13 March 2013

My study of Students’ Opinions about Blogs


  • INTRODUCTION
      The Blog started to become a popular tool on the internet. Generally, its reason is that blogs do not need any programming skills on the computer or on the internet. Therefore, blogs are used in so many areas. One of those areas is the education.  Especially language learning can be obtained via blogs. The aim of this study was to explore how blogs are seen by the students and effects of blogs on language skills such as reading, writing and listening and advantages and disadvantages of using blogs for language learners.

- READING


      Learners read each others’ blogs and they learned something about their friends’ worlds. A friend’s blog could be considered as an authentic material so learners became more enthusiastic to read their blogs. Because of that these readings on the blogs were simple and shorter than other readings, learners liked reading blogs. In a study , a learner said that “ I think it’s the most beautiful tool of the world and it allows us the most magic thing…” ( Downes, 2004, p.14) 

-WRITING

      Writing on a blog was partially different from any writing assignment, because learners might not understand the assignment’s main content. However, learners had to have a purpose while writing to the blog and they thought there were other readers. This thought  made them aware of what they wrote (Ward, 2004, p.3)


-LISTENING

      The teacher might put some listening activities into his/her blog and students might go there. To illustrate, Banville (2010) suggested jigsaw listening and he used free audio editor and recorder Audacity. He made his own listening test to give it to his students.  If this activity had been put on his blog, students would go there to improve themselves in listening whenever they want.


ADVANTAGES of using blogs 
  1. Interaction :Blogs made learners interact not only with the computer, but also with others. For these learners, a computer could be considered as a medium for communication. Blogs do not like bots as Alice (http://alice.pandorabots.com/ ). Alice was an artificial intelligence bot that you could chat in English. It could not answer all of the questions correctly because it was arranged beforehand by an administrator. Also it was not real. However, blogs were more realistic so that people, not computers, could ask you questions and answer your questions.
  2. Self- expression:  The posts on the blogs were served as a kind of diary. Moreover, they could be witness for their improvement. That is, it was recorded chronologically and whenever  learners wanted , they could see their previous writings or comments on others’ blogs. They developed themselves consciously or unconsciously. However, at the end, they could understand its advantages. 
  3. Simplicity:Blogs were easy to use. Its users did not have to get knowledge of all computer or program skills. Then, some class discussions could be counted as an advantage of using blogs. That is, a blog might be a place where students discussed any topic.


DISADVANTAGES of using blogs

  1. For reading skill: Hammersly (2003) found that there was a disadvantage for reading skill. Learners read blogs superficially on the computer screen. Therefore, they could not improve their skills. Moreover, he justified that technological communication had a negative effect on writing skill, too. That is, learners used the literacy in a wrong way.
  2. Being offensive: Some people or learners might be offensive while criticizing or commenting on their peers’ blogs. Students could be demotivated.
  3. Privacy settings:Some students posted their  diaries, personal information and their photos and they might not know privacy issues. Strangers might make sarcastic comments on learners’ blogs.
  4. Plagiarism: Learners posted some information on their blogs without knowing copy-right issues.


  • DATA COLLECTION AND PARTICIPANTS
                  A quantitative survey was used in this study. ten Turkish students, one male and nine females, ages 20- 40, were from several hometowns and in the second, third or fourth year of classes at the same college. Students used an individual blogger account and they commented on each other’s blogs in the semester for one of their courses.

  • RESULTS
They got enjoyed while writing on the blog and reading it :  60%
The students were visiting their blogs often: 80%
The students thought that they were aware of  benefits of blogs:  50%
Disagree with the power of the blog on the listening skill: 30%
The students had not used a blog for educational purposes until the course: 80%


The things the students like the best in blogging:
















Also, in the questionnaire, the students commented on the other ways that a blog could be useful in their language development :

  •  It can be used for developing their vocabulary knowledge.
  •  Class discussions can be organized  in blogs.
  • To see others’ use of language can be useful.


According to participants: 
         The most important advantage was encouraging them to write something. The second one was providing communication via blogs. The other advantages were to create a friendly environment, to be good for extrovert people who like to talk, to help connect to the world,  to share ideas, to get different ideas from people or articles, to develop an ability of self-expression of the students, to improve language learning skills, to be good for the participation of shy students, to get feedback for posts and to interact with the foreigners who speak the target language as a native. 

According to 30% of participants:
They said : the blogs were not interesting for some people, they were boring, they included unnecessary information,   they needed ability of using computer programs, they took too much time of the students,  they could be terrible because of internet problems, they could be waste of time because using it is according to your position in your life and they could be dangerous in terms of privacy settings.


Conclusion:

This study demonstrated that the language learners could mostly improve their writing, with the help of using blogs in lessons. Moreover, the survey supplied learners, who did not know what a blog was really and its benefits with costs, a general and meaningful view on blogs. If  the disadvantages of using blogs were cleared away, the students would get more benefits from the blog by writing on the blogs more and doing it intrinsically...