BLOG-ID 19: CAN IT BE THE MAGICAL PANACEA IN TEACHING AND LEARNING DURING COVID TIMES? by Petek Şirin
Covid-19 has dramatically affected the trajectory of teaching and learning. In a matter of weeks, traditional in-person classroom was expected to leave its place to new learning modalities. But, was it that easy?
Rising to the debilitating effects of a crisis is nothing new to teachers. Forcing us to look for innovative solutions in a relatively short period of time, this pandemic has acted as a catalyst for many educational settings. As there was no use lamenting the inevitable move towards an orchestrated teacher-centered approach in zoom sessions, I considered new possibilities and decided to knock on the door of my old friend, blogging.
First date with blogging
Back in 2010, when I was desperately looking for alternative ways to enhance students’ writing performance and motivation, I realized that blogging could possess a great potential to do so. At the very beginning, as it was a brand new toy, students relished the idea of sending posts about themselves and leaving comments on other people’s posts. They seemed to interact with each other and benefit from it. However, this misleading start did not last very long and I had to face the plummeting trend in blog entries.
The low blogging frequency, sadly, disclosed that students lacked the necessary intrinsic motivation to enhance writing skills using blogs. Instead of facilitating learning and fostering motivation, the peer feedback they received in blog posts resulted in negative feelings, and thus a bunch of anxious bloggers. Once the course was over, students never engaged in any further blog posts. When there is no real motivation to pursue a goal or when a new approach is unnaturally nudged and pushed, consequences are potentially dire and plans fall by the wayside. Having looked at this stark picture, I also questioned whether blogging was all worth the effort and time given its workload intensive nature. The next thing to do was waving goodbye to it.
Everything deserves a second chance: Blogging in the time of a pandemic
The sudden shift to online teaching in the midst of the spring semester was anxiety provoking. Although most students continued studying regularly and completed their tasks in asynchronous sessions, it was difficult to understand whether they really grasped the content or simply enjoyed learning it. Additionally, it was also painful to manage the group projects which entailed progressive writing, editing, discussions, knowledge building and, most notably, endless meetings. Having noted these issues aside, I decided to opt for a change and planned the modus operandi for blog use despite the earlier disappointment.
The EAP course I teach focuses on writing an academic research paper in groups. Students should, initially, understand the dimensions of sustainable development and evaluate the role of different solution methods in eliminating national and global problems. The bedrock problem is that while some students contribute actively to group work, some others cannot follow what is being discussed as they have not digested the required content to shape their ideas.
With the purpose of helping learners navigate the content and eliminate the problems in group work, I asked students to post their reflections on each solution player every three weeks after covering argumentative texts which helped them have a critical perception. When learners were encouraged to reflect on what they had learned and to strengthen their understanding with further reading and research, this gave them the due confidence and motivation to stay active in the course and more importantly to construct a personal stance towards the efficiency of contemporary solution methods. This, additionally, fostered an impetus to interact with other group members and comfortably discuss the weaknesses and strengths of each method/player while writing the evaluation section of the research paper. This also meant almost zero tension & arguments in the groups and, no wonder, not feeling the need to find an excuse to escape meetings
Going back to my initial question (whether blogging could be the magic panacea we need now), I would like to stay impartial and honestly say that overly magnifying the positive results or presenting inflated views about blogging could be misleading. Yet, my assumption is that when learners see the short term benefits of a new approach, they treasure it. The success of an intervention tool, despite many other factors at play, primarily depends on these quickly attainable results.
We, as solution providers, have an array of options to recover and thrive in this new normal. The actions that we take during this turbulent period also influence how quickly we recover. So, why not embracing new opportunities or giving a second chance to an old friend that once disappointed you?
ÖZCAN METE / S021624
Faculty of Architecture and Design
BLOG LINK: https://ozcanmete.wordpress.com/home/
When I first heard that we were going to write a blog, I was nervous. I had concerns about whether I would be able to write the requested content or express myself well. And I was pretty busy writing my first blog post. I tried to learn to understand the page we use. I was faced with things like how to add photos, how to place them, how to arrange the order. As I said, it took me a long time to write my first blog post, spread it, and load the page settings. This time, there was always anxious about whether it would last this long. But the following posts have overcome most of my concerns and have become enjoyable for me. I didn’t wait excitedly to write the next blog post, but I was always ready to write. I can say that writing about what we covered in the lesson also increased my interest in the course materials. It enabled me to research and learn more about the subjects. It is different from the usual homework style, attracts you more to the course content, and increases your awareness about the topics. I don’t think that if we had written the requested text to a Word file and uploaded it to the LMS, it would have left the same interest and awareness, at least on me. Blogging is very enjoyable and instructive.
The most important thing that blogging gave me was not being afraid to write. As you write and continue to write, you are not scared to write. Your self-confidence increases, and you become aware of your voice. Maybe I’ll open a new blog page and keep blogging.
Faculty of Architecture and Design
BLOG LINK https://denizmergen.wordpress.com/
I enjoyed the blog posts we wrote because writing immediately on the topics we learned, kept the topics in my mind and I learned different things while doing research. The positive comments made also increased my motivation for the lesson. Since we didn’t write blog posts very often, I didn’t have time problem. Reading the articles of my other classmates, provided the opportunity to get to know them. The articles we wrote are like the summary of the lesson, since blog-post is on the internet, this situation allows me to reach it as soon as possible if there is anything I need to remember about this course in the future.
Faculty of Architecture and Design
BLOG LINK: https://ceylinozkozaciblog.wordpress.com/
In ENG102 course, we developed ourselves by writing blogs with different subjects such as NGO, SB and CSR. Writing blogs weekly help us to sum up what we learned in that week and improve our writing skills. In my opinion, writing a blog is very beneficial for the years ahead. Videos, readings and TED talks which we watched and read, taught us how to move and behave in the future. I really liked what we did in this term and I want to carry on writing a blog about what I’ve learned or what I’ve done.
Faculty of Architecture and Design
BLOG LINK: https://zeynepcakarsblog.wordpress.com/
ENG102 course made me have all kinds of knowledge and really made me improve myself. It was a very different experience for me to convey this by blogging. At the beginning of the semester the idea of writing a blog seemed challenging for me but I realized that I was starting to be much more comfortable expressing myself while doing it during the semester.
Faculty of Business
BLOG LINK: https://lifeofastudent60886535.wordpress.com/
During the Fall term of 2020-2021, I’ve have taken the course of ENG102 where we have written blogs about what we have learnt in the class which were about NGO, GO, CSR, Social Businesses and Social Entrepreneurship. I see this activity in a really positive way since it helped us to be always connected to the class and to understand and consolidate our knowledge about the concepts. It was different experience for us to explore the world of blogging.
Faculty of Social Sciences
BLOG LINK https://zzeynepzaim.wordpress.com/
The fall semester that we come to an end passed harder than the previous semester for me and all of my friends. It has been stressful and we had a lot of assignments and projects in all classes. While a situation like this I took this ENG.102 this semester and even it has a lot of work to do it’s an escape to me. Especially the blog part. I always admire blogs and want to create something over Instagram some time but it did not happen yet. I think doing something like that with this course improved my writing skills and worked my creativity while designing it. Sincerely I love the idea of introducing ourselves via blog posts, with that we look at each other’s blog and learn so many things about each other without communicating one by one. In other parts of the blog which we prepared through the semester, I reinforced what I learned in the class like NGO, CSR, and Social Business. The only critic by me is sometimes there is a lot to do and I could not catch the time for my blog posts. For example, one time there is Submission 2 deadline is on the road plus in-class activity plus blog post is too much for one week. In conclusion, the blog post is fun and educated for me but when too many tasks on the road it’s switched encouraged to discouraged for me.
Faculty of Engineering
BLOG LINK https://ayrems.wordpress.com/
I think blogging is like a person’s diary, and we are opening this diary’s pages to everyone. It is a really nice feeling to read what you wrote in the past and see how far you have progressed and what has changed in your life. And it is very enjoyable to decorate these blog posts with images. Therefore, it made me very happy to write a blog in the English lesson and I made the information I learned permanent. I will be happy to open and read them later. I wish these blog posts were shared with more people and they will learn something from my posts, I hope I will do something about this topic in the future. 🙂