#SGM15: Blog #3: Teaching in a Digital Landscape

Tom Burns & Sandra Sinfield

Duration: 4-hours

Activities: reading, answering questions, making notes, writing a blog post, reading three blog posts from peers.


1: Blended Learning

2: Scaffolding Blended Learning

3: Digital Storytelling

4: Resources for the future

Learning Outcomes:

  • To explore teaching as a dialogic activity in a blended landscape
  • To consider using a class blog as a way of modelling online learning for your students
  • To scaffold student blogging as part of their reflective learning – and to support the evolution of confident academic writing
  • To explore multi-modal ways of assessing student learning – and, by being more engaging, supporting positive student behavior.

Blended Learning:

Activity: To set the scene for a consideration of the role that technology might play in supporting positive student behaviour please read and reflect on the flowing:

Why is learning changing?


How is learning changing?


Making sense of MOOCs


Heutagogy and technology

See also this interesting blog post that explores the impact of technology on pedagogy – and proposes that the nature of technology itself is moving us towards the age of heutagogy – or more self-directed learning (drawn from the Digitally Literate Leaner blog): http://dllearner.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/week-6-activity-21.html

Teaching as wayfinding:


Scaffolding blended learning

We refer in the WorkPack to the module Becoming an Educationalist wherein we wanted students to blog their learning to develop academic voice and power as they narrated themselves becoming academic. To model collaborative practice and the writing of quasi-academic blogging, we wrote our own reflective blogs on the module; see http://becomingeducational.wordpress.com/. We also demonstrated ‘blogging to learn’ by sharing posts from our own reflective pedagogic blog, Last Refuge, where we write about our own learning experiences, including MOOC participation; see http://lastrefugelmu.blogspot.co.uk/.

Activity: Read some of our Becoming blog. See how we reflect on the lessons – re-post student blogs – and discuss the assignments. What do you think about this mode of addressing students? Is this something you might consider in your own practice?

Scaffolding student digital competences – the Salmon model

We wanted our students to blog their learning to make their learning conscious to themselves – and also to gradually develop mastery of academic writing itself. In the process we modelled blogging for our students – and we utilised Salmon’s (2000) Five Stage model of e-learning to seed our students’ blogging:

  • Stage 1: Access and motivation: invited students to take part in blogging the learning, demonstrated blogging tools, modelled blogging; asked Peer Mentors to facilitate the setting up and customising of blogs;
  • Stage 2: On-line socialization: encouraged playful voices and commenting upon the blogs of others, suggested quad-blogging to ensure dialogue; commented lightly on the student blogs, not marking spelling punctuation and grammar – and positively encouraging energy and enthusiasm;
  • Stage 3: Information exchange: more encouragement of commenting on the blogs of others; re-blogging student blogs to the whole class;
  • Stage 4: Knowledge construction: blogged about the classes and the topics covered, re-blogged academic blog posts of relevance and used student blogs in class to illustrate aspects of the course and to seed discussion;
  • Stage 5: Development: students encouraged to re-visit their blogs for use in their final essay and to compose a meta-narrative when submitting blog extracts for assessment.

Blogging the learning: some tips

Require that students write regular weekly blogs on their learning. Writing for real audiences helps students to realise that academic writing is about having something to say – to real people. Blogs are multimodal semi-public and quasi-academic spaces in which students can narrate themselves as they become academic. Setting students the task of blogging their reflective learning journals also develops student learning through the act of writing.


Narratives of the self: And this is what our student voices said:


‘Week 9 was all about my nightmare….drawing!

My drawings always mock me:

“Ha! I have defeated you! You may have many words, but give you a pencil, and watch the intelligence disappear! That’s not how you wanted it to look, is it? Is that a person or a tree? Dumbo!’’

In a class of five year old children, I am quite happy to display my ridiculous sketches. I explain to the children that drawing is not my strong point, and they assure me that I have done a very good job of representing the characters, props and scenery in the storyboard. However, if someone were to come in, they would be quite convinced that the children had drawn the pictures – and not the most artistically gifted children, either!

At the moment, I feel afraid of failure, but I have to remember that I have been here before. In 2011, I graduated with merit at the Barbican, from a Foundation Degree in Education: Primary Pathway. So I need to keep three things in mind:

  • Keep taking risks!
  • It will be worth all the hard work!
  • There are people to help me on my journey!’


‘In this week’s lecture, we were subjected to a 10 minute free writing exercise. If we stopped writing, then we were to write the reason why we did so on a separate piece of paper. Seemed easy enough, but the question given was very ambiguous to us: Winnicott (1971) argued that play is necessary to counteract the implicit threat of transitional…

“What?” I asked myself. “Who is Winnicott? What does he mean by play? Implicit threat?” I started writing, even though I had no idea what the question was asking. It took three attempts to get my writing flowing.’


When reading the blogs that students did write, you can see the voice, the energy and the passion – you can see playfulness and a rounded self emerging. This – these – are voices feeling their way into university and carving identities that feel like the student and the person that they are – but that is also transforming into the academic they are becoming. Moreover, we would argue, that that transformation is happening much more on the students’ own terms than if the writing only happened within the formal constraints of the restrictive academic essay. Further, the very nature of the blogging process underscores that it is about writing within and for communities of practice; it constitutes (online) dialogic (collaborative) learning. We felt and feel that blogging to learn has the potential to offer students playful online collaborative spaces to facilitate their learning. Moreover, as students could be said to have moved productively through Salmon’s (2000) Five Stage model of e-learning – we urge that this five stage model be taken back and used in classroom settings: what bonds students, builds efficacy and promotes active learning in virtual spaces, also fulfils that function in F2F spaces.

Activity: When, where, why and how might you use blogging to learn with your own students?

Digital Storytelling

The digital age is predicated on the notion of Student as Producer (of knowledge) – as opposed to earlier education ages that appeared to position the student as a consumer of knowledge. If helping your students to become digitally capable and proficient, set students the challenge of making digital artefacts and/or telling digital stories. Here are some useful strategies for developing Digital Storytelling in your students.

Activity: See http://edtechteacher.org/tools/multimedia/digital-storytelling/ – for school examples to inspire and resource your own practice.

Join #ds106 and sign up to the teaching blog roll

DS106 – or digital storytelling 106 – started as a MOOC, massive open online course, which created an international community of practice of educationalists interested in developing their and their students’ digital capacities in engaging and dynamic ways. The tutors have curated the website and its tasks and resources so that it continues to act as a meeting point for digitally developing educationalists. #DS106 has Quickstart Guides, Assignments, Handbooks and Daily Create challenges – and you can use them yourselves or require your students to use the resources to become more active and powerful in digital media. Tip: Sign your class up to #ds106 and enrol their blogs on the blog roll: http://ds106.us/teaching-ds106/

Design engaging assessments: Digital Artefacts

For certain assignments or parts of assignments, rather than writing an essay or report; require students to produce a digital artefact that sums up their learning – or to produce a teaching and learning resource that would convey learning about the key issues on the course. To assist with this we have built the AniMet Challenge: http://learning.londonmet.ac.uk/epacks/animation/ – you are welcome to build this resource into your own practice if you feel it would be useful.

Didactical Tools and Resources from our PLN

One way that we inspired our students to get digital was to show them the following digital artefacts – and then ask them to ‘Develop a Digital Me’. That is, we asked them to set their own short project where they used an artefact to tell a story about themselves or about studying. The final activity on the Project was that they had to design a Poster for an Exhibition that would show case their learning.

Make an Artefact Activity: Explore the following artefacts. Choose one – and create a short ‘story’ about any aspect of this online part of the #SGM15 Unit that has particularly intrigued or engaged you. Post the link to your artefact in your blog – and say yourself what you did – why – and how you think it turned out.

Bonus Activity: This is what our students produced when teaching themselves technology with the tools of their choice: http://learning.londonmet.ac.uk/epacks/posters-digital/ .

Have a look – explore the Posters and artefacts: write about whether and how you can use this in your own practice.

Resources for the Future

Alan Levine is one of the leading lights of #ds106 and has curated these didactical tools for developing our practice and our competences:

Alan Levine (aka CogDog) put this together:


And here is Alan Levine’s older iteration of that site: http://cogdogroo.wikispaces.com/StoryTools

We hope that you have enjoyed this session – and that you are planning on bringing blogging to learn and digital storytelling into your LTA practice.

Do not forget to write at least ONE blog post yourself .

Do not forget to make ONE digital artefact!!

Read at least THREE blog posts from your peers.

Good luck!



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