This project will focus on the development of a course-specific blogosphere that will foster community building, discourse, peer evaluation, and social learning in courses that employ student blogs. The development will result in a tool for aggregation, tools for peer evaluation, and tools for enhanced interaction within the UBC Blogs platform. Building on the development of an existing Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology-created plugin, the platform will allow for a course “community” site that aggregates students’ blog contributions to a centralized location, while maintaining the integrity and customizability of each student’s individual blog. This aggregation will offer several benefits, including easing monitoring and assessment through centralization; increasing opportunities for student interaction; distributing interactions across a wider student network than a traditional course blogosphere, where students often only reciprocally visit and interact with the blogs of fewer students in their existing social networks; and allowing contributions to be collectively sorted by category, tag, ratings, etc., which is not possible with individual blogs. The platform will also include tagging and rating systems, from simple like/dislike, scaled ratings, and rubric-based evaluation forms, to course-customizable “badges” that students can use to promote contributions from other students on a course-defined characteristic that is determined by the instructor. Badges will have flexible “labels” that can be set by the instructor in the administration panel of the aggregator site. This will allow students to identify and promote quality posts, to model successful posts, and to offer feedback and engage in discussion.
The goal of this project is to improve the current learning experience surrounding blog use in courses, and to provide an easily adaptable and implementable sociotechnical learning model to a wide variety of UBC courses. Implementation of this project will occur in January and September 2014.