It was estimated that in January 2017, there were more than 1.8 billion websites. And as most of us know already, a website can be a personal, commercial, governmental website, or a non-profit organisation. Websites are typically dedicated to a particular topic or purpose, ranging from entertainment and social networking, to providing news and education.
Blogs are essentially another form of website. More particularly, as defined by the Australian Psychological Society, blogs are ‘shared online websites written in the form of journals by individuals, groups, or corporations about any topic or issue they want.’
It is generally recognised that blogging started in 1994, with Links.net considered to be the first ever blog. Blogging has come a long way from being interactive, online forms of the traditional personal diary to becoming a repository of valuable information. What makes blogging even more incredible is that anyone can start their own. As a result, blogs have now become ubiquitous, so much so that there are blogs on every conceivable topic, discipline, and niche.
With the increasing popularity of blogs, it makes sense that they should be adapted by teachers to make the classroom experience even more meaningful for students. The good news is that teachers seem to be receptive of embracing digital resources to propel student learning.
Blogging is not just simply writing a blog post and learning WordPress; there is psychology behind it. An emerging subfield in psychology that focuses on the application of psychological principles and research in order to optimise the benefits that readers can derive from consuming blogs is known as blog psychology. A recently published article in the Psychreg Journal of Psychology explored the theoretical underpinnings of blog psychology such as readers’ perception, cognition, and humanistic components in regards to their experience of reading blogs.
Furthermore, Laura Gurak from the University of Minnesota and Smiljana Antonijevic explained the psychology behind blogging. According to them, ‘by using blogging as a lens, researchers can see that many predictions and findings of early internet research on social and psychological features of computer-mediated communication have held true, whereas others are not as true, and that the psychology of the internet is very much a sense of the one and the many, the individual and the collective, the personal and the political. Blogs illustrate the fusion of key elements of human desire (to express one’s identity, create community, structure one’s past and present experiences) with the main technological features of 21st century digital communication. Blogs can serve as a lens to observe the way in which people currently use digital technologies and, in return, transform some of the traditional cultural norms – such as those between the public and the private.’
Now, how do we transfer the principles of blog psychology to optimise learning in the classroom?
First, let’s point out some of the benefits of blogging in education such as: allowing students to articulate their views. It is more engaging than simply reading a textbook; and, it increases extroverts’ satisfaction in the classroom, and has a host of other classroom benefits.
Indeed, it is remarkable that many teachers today are implementing digital technology in the classroom such as blogging and it is undeniably opening doors to new ways of learning. Teachers who are looking to adopt digital technology should not dismiss the power of the blog to revolutionise learning inside the classroom. Whether it is used for a class website or as stand-alone student projects, blogging in the classroom can easily connect students, parents, and teachers. Encouraging students to blog helps them see connection between what they learn from the class and the different aspects of their lives, and ultimately realise that reflective writing (through blogging) is a worthwhile skill in any field.