Online discussions vs. Blogging

Blogging vs Threaded Discussions in Online Courses

I found this article very interesting, especially as I’m presenting to my secondary school faculty in a couple of days about the difference between these two methods of engaging students in conversation. Though the article was directed towards online courses, it was evident that many of the same arguments about a face-to-face environment.

“Learners process information based upon┬átheir shared experiences with others, entering into a phase of learning that includes: attention; retention; reproduction; and ultimately the motivation to alter behavior.”

This is a valid argument for online discussions and blogging in a walled classroom, just as much as it is for the online classroom.

What is interesting is that a 2012 study by Clarke and Kinne indicated that there was definitely a bias in online classes towards blogs over discussion threads.

“According to their research, students who blogged about coursework and posted responses to classmates, developed a strong sense of community amongst each other.”

This is fascinating! To see that they discovered a stronger sense of community through one means over another is significant to educators to understand. When making decisions about how to engage students, it is important to realize that the students feel more valued and are more likely to be more candid and personal when blogging than when using discussion forums.

This matches my own experience, though I’ve struggled to have students incorporate thorough comments in other students’ blogs. Nevertheless, I feel that the autonomy that comes with creating blogs is much more a powerful means of tapping into my students’ interests and capabilities as writers than when I use discussion forums. As the article indicated, a discussion forum tends to give more of a sense of being within the walled structure of the classroom, versus the creative venu of the blog.

I would love to see further research into these modalities of engaging students in online conversation. As mentioned in this study, “this is how learning becomes social and truly motivating”, and since our goals as teachers is to be all about student learning, we should find deeper and more meaningful ways to engage our students in these ways.



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