myLesley Blogs, Journals & Wikis, Oh My!

Did you know that myLesley has its own built-in set of blogs, journals and wikis? They’ve been around for a while, but with the latest myLesley update now is a great time to take another look.

Blackboard blog

What’s so great about Blackboard blogs and wikis?

Faculty who have already switched over to these built-in tools have found them to be far easier to use and set up. This is especially true if you create individual blogs for your students. Now there’s no need to manually set up a separate blog for each student. Just create your blog, click a single button (Individual to All Students) and Blackboard will automatically take care of the rest. Note: If you select the Course option all of the students will post their entries to a shared single blog.

individual blog setting

Blackboard blogs, journals and wikis have the same text editor as the discussion board so your students do not need to learn a new tool. Adding images and media is far more straightforward and obvious and because theses tools are native to the Blackboard environment, they have access to all the Blackboard tools. This includes the ability to easily add and/or record video with Video Everywhere, recording audio with Voice Authoring and integration with the Grade Center.

What you need to know?

All Blackboard blogs, journals and wikis are private to your course and can only be accessed and viewed while you and your students are logged into myLesley. This set-up fully complies with FERPA regulations. This privacy feature also means that you cannot copy blog or wiki content to another course.

If you have created a template for a wiki assignment, we recommend that you set it up in another course, such as a development shell or your myspace (aka Faculty Demo Student Account). You can then manually copy and paste the pages of the wiki into your new course. You could also create a Word document with the structure of each page and save it with your other course resources. This may seem a little more cumbersome than simply copying the wiki from course to course, but it’s easier than having to delete all the pages and student comments from last semester’s wiki assignments in order to start with a clean template.

Where to find out more info?

Please review the support pages below for more info on how to set up the tools, create and edit content, and grade student work.

Blackboard Wikis
Blackboard Blogs and Journals

Blogs as a Reflective Tool

 Blogs as a Reflective Tool

The resources below are focused on the use of blogs as reflective tools. Although most of them discuss their use in online courses, some are used in face-to-face classes. Blogs and Journals in Blackboard can both be used for reflections. The Journal tools is normally used for private student to teacher communications, while blogs are generally shared among the class participants.

Developing the use of blogs as a reflective tool (the Arts)

In this video, Jonathan Kearney, an artist & Associate Lecturer at the University of the Arts London, outlines how he has evolved his use of blogs for reflection, leading to a deepening of  student’s reflection and four principles for future use. He compares 3 methods of posting in blogs: text, photographic, and voice + video. You can scan his video using the table of contents he provides on the web page.

Using blogs for peer feedback and discussion (Architecture)

This instructor uses  blogs for peer feedback and discussion around their coursework. Student postings include  process work, thoughts about their learning processes, and their goals for their work. Students in the video discuss how the blogs supported their learning.

Student blogging from the field (Engineering)  Examples of student blogs while performing fieldwork.

Reflection Journals   This reading from the University of Illinois is focused on the use of reflective journals for Service Learning, but it includes descriptions of a variety of different types of reflective journals you may find useful beyond Service Learning.

Developing reflective practitioners online: the business of blogs in work integrated learning (Business)

This paper examines the adoption, implementation and refinement of the use of reflective blogs in a work integrated learning unit for business students majoring in advertising, marketing and public relations disciplines. The reflective blog is discussed as a learning and assessment tool, including the approaches taken to integrate and scaffold the blog as part of the work integrated learning experience.

Using Blogs in the Foreign Language Classroom

(click on image to view videos)

A language professor explains how he uses blogs to help students learn about language “scripts” in the culture of the target language. Professor Kelm teaches Portuguese at the University of Texas at Austin and is one of the 12 language experts showcased in the siteForeign Language Teaching Methods, a collection of professional development modules featuring videos of language instructors discussing key areas of language teaching.

Improving Observation and Evaluation Skills Through Video Analysis and Peer Review

Literacy Collaborative at Lesley

The video analysis assignment in the Literacy Collaborative literacy coach training gives teachers the opportunity to develop their ability to observe and analyze both their literacy learning and teaching skills. Students use a Flip video camera to record short samples of their literacy teaching. These examples are posted to the student’s blog along with a self-analysis. Each student must then review two of their classmates’ videos and analyses and provide constructive feedback. Once this is complete, a faculty liaison reviews the video sample, the student’s analysis and the peer feedback, and provides his/her own feedback in the comments area. The final step is a self-evaluation and summary by the student based on feedback received from their peers and faculty, which they add to their blog as a new post.

The assignment creates a full circle of reflection and feedback, giving students the benefit of peer knowledge and feedback in addition to faculty review. As a result, students become much more observant and reflective about their own teaching strategies.

Check out the complete assignment: Video Analysis Protocol

Designing Motivating Scenario-Based Wiki Activities

The following webinar was presented via TeachU Ohio and features Dr. Jan Schmittauer’s presentation of an engaging blog and wiki based activity surrounding the novel Testimony by Anita Shreve. The students’ ultimate goal is to determine which of six character should be held the most accountable for the death of a student in the story. Via blog posts and group work in team wikis the students then proceed to whittle down which person they feel holds the most responsibility for this tragedy via debate and textual evidence from the book. Each day another character is “voted off the island of accountability” until only one remains. A final blog post, at the end of the process, allows students to reflect on whether or not their initial perception has stayed the same or changed. Click here to watch the webinar and learn more. You can also download a copy of the presentation.