On Blogs in Online Courses

Blogs have been a tool for self-publishing to the Internet since the late 1990’s. The model is simple: An individual is “assigned” to a part of the platform. That individual is given permission to post text, images, video, audio and other content to their blog. Visitors to the site can post comments to the blog and comments on others’ comments.

Most blogging platforms can be configured to limit commenting to specific individuals or groups, comments may have to be moderated by the blogger, and other limits can be placed on how the posts and comments are displayed. Further, blogging software includes features so that posts can be displayed by date, category, or tag. 

When used in courses, the blogging tool in an LMS tends to be organized around one of two different types of interactions:

  1. Blogging can be used in the same way discussion boards are used (bloggers posts a reaction to an artifact, then other post comments). When used in this way, instructors often find the nature of the interaction can change; rather than discussion diverging from the original focus, comments on blogs tend to focus on the original post, and commenting on comments is unusual when using blogs in courses.
  2. Blogging can be used multiple times over the duration of a course. When used in this way, the blog represents the student’s work and reflections. Typically, blogs used in this manner are written by the student as a record of their increasingly sophisticated understanding.

No matter which of these are used, I have found the comments on blogs tend to be more detailed than replies to discussion posts. Further, the focus of the comments tends to be grounded in the original post to a greater degree than replies to discussion threads.