by Jim Pettiward, on Jan 11, 2013

Blogs, Journals & Discussions – which to choose?

Snapshot: With the number of communication tools in Blackboard, how can you choose the most appropriate tool for the job? What’s the difference between Blogs, J

So what do we use? Blog? Journal? Discussion Forum?
So what do we use? Blog? Journal? Discussion./ | Credit: Discussion
So what do we use? Blog? Journal? Discussion Forum?
So what do we use? Blog? Journal? Discussion./ | Credit: Discussion


Spoilt for choice

Blackboard 9.1 has some improved communication tools which allow you and your students to create and sustain dialogue. However, it can be difficult to know which of these tools (if any) is suitable for your purpose, as certain tools probably lend themselves better to certain types of task.

For example, if you’re looking for an online space where a student can reflect on their learning and share their thoughts, and prefer to keep this inside Weblearn, an online Journal is probably the best option. On the other hand, if you want students to communicate and, for example, comment on each others’ ideas, then a Discussion Forum or Group Blog might be a better choice.

This page will give an overview of these tools and help you decide which is the one you need. 

For a quick overview of these communication tools, have a look at the attached Blackboard guide in the 'downloads' box below: 'Getting Started with Interactive Tools'

DOWNLOADS:

Click on the arrows to access more content

Discussion Boards

In Weblearn, Discussion Board is the name of the Tool which can be used to create Discussion Forums which, in turn, can contain various different Discussion Threads. A Discussion Board can contain as many Discussion Forums as the Instructor decides are necessary.

An online discussion Forum is simply a place where students (and Instructor) can discuss topics, ask questions and reply to each other. It can be divided into separate topics by creating separate ‘threads’.  One common use of a Discussion Board is for FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions). The advantage of the Discussion forum for this is that Questions (and their answers) can easily be separated. The forums can also be searched to quickly locate a particular topic or question. The download below will show you how to set up a Discussion Forum and make it available in your module.

DOWNLOADS:

Blogs

The word Blog comes from the combination of Web and Log, which gives a clue to how Blogs are often used. They can provide an online chronological record of events or experiences. Even so, Blogs have been around for a (relatively) long time and they have evolved to be used in many different ways.

The Blogs feature in Blackboard is not as visually rich or flexible as commercial blogging  platforms such as WordPress or Blogger, but it can provide:

• a secure space for students to share ideas showcase their work
• a gradable component to a module
• a place to construct knowledge and ‘bounce’ ideas of others

As a teacher, you might also want to create your own blog to suggest useful reading or links you come across, or provide general comments / feedback to a group of students.


In 'Downloads' below, you'll find a useful guide from the University of West London to help you set up Blogs & Journals.
 

DOWNLOADS:
  • [pdf : 1 MB] downloads 'Blogs, Journals & Wikis (University of West London)'

Journals

A Journal is a simple tool within Blackboard which allows a student to contribute regular entries to a private online space which only he/she and the Instructor can see. It can be a very effective way to encourage students to reflect on their own learning and experience of your module, and it provides a safe place for students to express themselves.

A journal can be used to deliver informal feedback on progress, and can also flag up any problems students may be having. This is an effective way to enhance dialogue and increase ‘teacher presence’ in a module.

DOWNLOADS:
Discussion Boards
Blogs
Journals