As on the previous two days, I have some sympathy with the views of the student. It is hard to maintain the motivation for writing blog entries when you don't think anyone is actually reading your posts. It can seem like simply writing for ourselves rather than a wider audience. In response to this, I think I would make two points:
- Firstly, the act of writing is itself valuable in forcing us to reflect on our experiences and synthesise ideas from various different sources. This aids our learning significantly.
- Secondly, whether we realise it or not, we do generally write in a different style when we know it is going to be published to a wider audience, whether this is public or just, for example. the other students in a tutor group. We thus tend to articulate our views more clearly, and the process of distilling complex ideas into words which can be read by others (as opposed to just ourselves) can be quite productive in terms of our own understanding.
So - I would encourage the student to persevere. How about looking at other students' blogs and commenting on them, and using the opportunity to invite them to comment on yours? Get the dialogue going yourself.
(Confession: I don't necessarily practice what I preach!)
I know from bitter personal experience how difficult it is to get students to engage effectively online. I have used discussion boards, blogs and wikis, all with limited success. I refer again to comments I made in response to yesterday's activities: learning design is critical. The online learning activities have to be designed as an integral part of the curriculum rather than an optional add-on. When I did my course with the OU the most effective online discussions were typically linked to an assessment. For example, the assessed work was required to draw on (and specifically cite) discussion board entries.
Some people think that John Biggs' concept of constructive alignment is a bit 'old hat' now, but I firmly believe that it holds true whether we are designing for face-to-face or online. Essentially, the learning outcomes, the learning activities and the assessment & feedback all need to be aligned. Far too often students are presented with learning outcomes at the start of a course or a module, but are given no guidance as to how those learning outcomes are to be achieved.
When a 'constructive alignment' approach is adopted, the learning activities and the assessment and feedback provide the scaffolding which enables students to reach the learning outcomes.
Images source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gavatron/10037420373/