Since people have started implementing various kinds of social software for communication, spending at least an hour for such type of communication has become an imprescriptible part of their daily routine. Most of their time expending in online computer-mediated communication (CMC) environments like chats, blogs, wikis and social networks, people spend for reading and writing. As most teenagers’ lives cannot be imagined without CMC, educators’ attitude towards writing has changed. Creative and entrepreneurial teachers started to implement CMC environments in their classrooms in order to exploit students’ habitual activities for learning purposes. One of the widespread types of online CMC environments frequently used in classrooms or out-of-class is a blog.
Due to its numerous advantages blogs have gained an enormous popularity among Internet users. Nowadays anyone who wants to maintain a blog can create his/her own personal blog just in few steps. By now, all blog-hosting services have made the process of creating personal blogs very easy and fast. With ready templates of simple and comfortable interfaces new blogger doesn’t need to be a good programmer. As stated by Yang (2009, p.13): “anyone who can create a basic Microsoft Word document can create and maintain a blog”.
Fageeh (2011, p.32) states that “in language learning, blogs have been experimentally used as tools to develop writing and reading comprehension skills”, and many researches have proven the positive impact of blogging on two types of language skills like reading and writing. He investigated the use of blogs for developing writing skills and improving learners’ attitude towards English learning, involving forth-year Saudi students of College of Languages and Translation in his project. Findings of his research have demonstrated that “Weblogs can encourage students’ self-expression in English, inducing a revolutionary engagement in writing” (Fageeh, 2011, p.41). He believes that the reasons for such positive impact of Weblogs on language learners are its easiness and interactivity. The study has proven that blogging improves writing skills, especially students’ accuracy and lexis choice, and learners monitor their writing as their entries will be read online by real audience. Fageeh (2011) reports:
It is noteworthy that, according to the self-reports, writing on the blogs made students pay close attention to the formal aspects of writing, both in terms of word choice, structure, and word spelling, attending to sentence and paragraph structure as well as adapting academic style, register and appropriate lexicon (p.39).
Yang (2009) described that some participants, who were involved in his research, admitted the helpfulness of blogging for reflection and giving comments. The findings of his study displayed the significant role of feedback and risk-taking in language learning that can, on their turn, strengthen language learners’ confidence and motivation. Thus, Yang (2009) believes that interactive nature of blogs provides motivation for language learning. He further reported:
One can read and also comment on what one reads in expectation of a little discussion and a quest for common interests and individual differences. By responding on blogs, people can get feedback from other audiences throughout cyberspace. Students have an opportunity to read things in which they are interested and write things they truly wish to write, thereby determining their own texts in language education and combining text with conversations in a very personal and stimulating way (p.13).
Thus, blogging enhances learners’ writing skills and motivation to write, particularly the interactive feature of blogging (giving comments and receiving feedback) arouses learners’ motivation. All of these reasons support beneficial features of online learning environments.
As for disadvantages, I believe that accessibility of the Internet connection and computers is a major concern for online learning nowadays. Moreover, asynchronous aspect of blogging may decrease the interaction between the learners. Not all of the blog platforms protect authors’ information by providing open access to posts only with the authors’ permission.
- Fageeh I. (2011). EFL learners’ use of blogging for developing writing skills and exchanging attitudes towards English learning: an exploratory study. Journal of Language and Literature, 2(1), 31-48. Retrieved from: www.lit.az/ijar/pdf/jll/5/JLL2011(1-5).pdf
- Yang, S.-H. (2009). Using blogs to enhance critical reflection and community of practice. Educational Technology & Society, 12 (2), 11–21. Retrieved from: http://www.ifets.info/journals/12_2/2.pdf
- Picture taken from: http://www.videojeeves.com/blog/e-learning-for-kids/