9.1 Desktop research – finding, analysing and synthesising information.

Blogs traditionally have been used, even in education, as personal logs (Williams & Jacobs, 2004) for example of own or class activity.  This tool may also allow for ”collaborative activity, knowledge sharing, reflection and debate’ (Hiler, 2003).

The distinct blogging behaviours outlined by Kerawella et al. (2008) suggest that in their nature, blogs are versatile and consequently they can easily cater for a wide diversity of interests and uses. In fact Williams et al. (2004) suggests that there is no rule that states that a blog has to be used for self-sufficient blogging. On the web, one can find different types of blogs with differing uses such as micro blogs, group blogs, mom blogs, community blogs and corporate blogs[1].

Looking at blog usage from the learner’s viewpoint, the learner can use a blog in various ways and for various purposes, acknowledging the different blogging behaviours of students. The behaviours observed in the study conducted by Kerawalla et al. (2008) indicate that blogging is appropriated to suit the learners’ own ‘learning’ needs.

Academics may find blogging useful as blogs provide an online area from which they can reach an audience interested in their area of specialisation.

Multiple categories I have identified in the following table may be evidenced in the same blog. For example, in a blog the user might be posting privately for own use (e.g. myself posting specific reflection which will later be useful for TMAs), in other instances I might be sharing knowledge about a specific topic.

Category Description Examples Main issues

(technical or pedagogical)

Private Blogging for oneself rather then for others. Blog posts may be privately posted with little or no access for an audience ? Learners may prefer a private space to a more public one. Such learners may be more self-critical, apprehensive of peer feedback, and view self-disclosure to others as too painful. Probably such learners may be new to blogging and need support/mentoring.
Activity Log Student may provide an online diary of their learning activities. This may take various forms.

Reflective learner – Learner use blog to showcase own learning trajectory

Scribe learner – Learner uses blog to log learning activities of ‘class’.


My own blog for H808 and that of other H808 students

e.g. kijt.wordpress.com


Students post their work to this blogging site;  http://youthvoices.net/


Reflective activity may take place as learners are posting or through discussions which may take place through blog post comments.
  Teachers may provide an online diary of the activities undertaken by their classes. Mrs. Cassidy’s Classroom Blog; http://classblogmeister.com/blog.php?blogger_id=1337


Collaborative Multiple users posting in same blog. Research blogging www.researchblogging.org


Blog used in 2009 by my H800 group; http://h800groupblog.wordpress.com/



A blog used last year with my secondary students where they posted their own research;



A collaborative group of learners may enable participants to delve in a much richer learning environment whilst working towards the same goal.
Knowledge sharing Academic – Academics voicing their opinion on issues related to their area of specialisation Weller, M. The Ed Techie, Blog http://nogoodreason.typepad.co.uk/


Neurophilosophy; http://scienceblogs.com/neurophilosophy/


Dave’s landslide blog available from: http://daveslandslideblog.blogspot.com

‘Blogs are perhaps the most obvious realisation of Allen’s vision to provide a forum for academic discourse that reaches beyond the scope of a university subject and which augments the knowledge creation occurring throughout a student’s enrolment in a higher education program.’ (Williams and Jocobs, 2004)


  Professional – Professional teachers blogging on areas of interest Teacher Michael Doyle shares his experience working as a science teacher and his thoughts on life in general on this blog.



Relevant for other teachers as subscription to such blogs may provide an informal way of doing professional development.


Various authors post on  elearning issues relevant to Maltese teachers;





Kerawalla, L., Minocha, S., Kirkup, G. and Conole, G. (2008) ‘Characterising the different blogging behaviours of students on an online distance learning course’, Learning, Media and Technology, vol.33, no.1, pp.21–33; also available online at http://libezproxy.open.ac.uk/login?url=http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1080/17439880701868838 (accessed 2 Jan 2010).
Williams, J.B. & Jacobs, J. (2004), ‘Exploring the use of blogs as learning spaces in the higher education sector, Australasian Journal of Educational Technology’, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 232-247, Available from: http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet20/williams.html (accessed 2 Jan 2010).





[1] Different types of blogs are outlined in Wikipedia’s blog entry found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog



2 thoughts on “9.1 Desktop research – finding, analysing and synthesising information.

  1. Dear Keith,

    Thanks for the mention!

    For some of us, blogging replaces or supplements keeping a journal. Getting words from others, though, makes blogs dynamic, and encourages sharing ideas.

    Whether teachers do it online or on paper, keeping a journal helps hone your teaching practice. Good luck with your blog!

    1. Micahel, thanks for the comment. Your blog’s use is very interesting. Have you ever tried anything different with blogging? Last year I experimented with a collaborative blog for my students. Blogs are versatile ain’t they ?!


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