Examination of a Global Telecollaborative Project Blog
Cynthia C. Choi
Department of Education, Le Moyne College, 1419 Salt Springs Road, Syracuse, New York, USA
Keywords: Online learning, telecollaboration, weblog.
Abstract: Students in three elementary schools in the Northeastern area of the US and their partners in a primary school
from a small coastal town of Papua New Guinea have used technology to initiate dialogue with one another
through collaborative classroom activities-a web-based learning community that spans across the globe.
Within an established model of teaching and learning online through online networking, application of the
weblog component is examined. Preliminary findings suggest the use of weblog to be an effective
component in regards to maintaining student motivation. And, the ease of implementation was manageable to
participating teachers.
As the Internet becomes an increasingly pervasive
and persistent influence in people's lives, teachers
have picked up on the creative use of this Internet
technology and put the weblog to work in the
classroom. A weblog (also referred to as a blog) is a
web publishing tool that allows authors to quickly
and easily self-publish text, artwork, links to other
blogs or websites, and a whole array of other content.
Blogs are set-up like conventional websites, with
navigation links, and other standard website features.
Blogs have one standard characteristic, however, the
posting. Blog postings are text entries, similar to a
diary or journal, which include a posting date and
may include comments by people other than the
author, photos, links, or other digital media. Postings
are often short and frequently updated. They appear
in reverse chronological order and can include
archived entries.
Being situated within the Internet allows bloggers
to access their webblogs anywhere and anytime an
Internet connection is available, an opportunity for
learning to continue beyond the classroom. Its
"underdetermined" design, where a system is
engaging, yet intuitive and easy to learn (Cassell,
2002), makes it equitable for many age groups and
both genders, and simple for teachers to implement.
Weblogs are used as collaborative spaces where
students, teachers, and sometimes guests can build
content together. Thus, weblogs are a popular venue
to fuse educational technology across disciplines to
encourage multidisciplinary lessons.
Telecollaboration among students from three
elementary schools in the Northeastern area of the US
and their partner from a primary school in a small
coastal town of Papua New Guinea is shared. In this
study, the Project blog is examined through the
framework of a five-stage model of teaching and
learning online through online networking (Salmon,
2000) to (a) examine motivation for online learning
and (b) explore the role of the moderator.
The participating students are from three US
elementary schools (1 public and 2 parochial) and a
primary school in Papua New Guinea. Students
from the US are 4
graders, while their Papua New
Guinea (PNG) are in 7
grade. In total, 78 students
and four classroom teachers have participated in this
project. Telecollaborative project model (Harris,
1998a, 1998b) was chosen to provide students from
around the world a chance to belong to the same study
The initial telecollaborative activities, “an online
project that blends curriculum, instruction, and
technology,” (Craig, 1997) that combines the
communication forms of speech, written language,
C. Choi C. (2007).
A WEBLOG IN PRACTICE - Examination of a Global Telecollaborative Project Blog.
In Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Web Information Systems and Technologies - Society, e-Business and e-Government /
e-Learning, pages 479-482
DOI: 10.5220/0001267504790482
and graphics, provided a way for students to
communicate using Internet tools and online
resources. Telecollaborative activities involve people
in different locations learning together by means of
using Internet tools and resources (Harris, 1999).
Students shared ideas and critique each others work.
To initiate the partnership, exchange of daily
events was made possible through a creation of a
multimedia presentation which opened several
opportunities for culturally based dialogue. Through
collaboration in creation and exchange of cultural
myths, study of local heroes and analysis of climate
and seasonal festivities, the participating students
became a web-based learning community that spans
the globe.
The participating schools and teachers
represented different stages of development on the
technology integration continuum. The American
students, for instance, had the hardware in place and
had easy access to computer technology, versed in
fundamental, age appropriate use, such as word
processing, basic multimedia presentations, and
Internet research. The PNG school, on the other hand,
was in their initial stage of being equipped with a
modest (5 desktop) computer systems. Needless to
say, these students and teacher from PNG had
minimal exposure to computer technology. In fact, for
all but one PNG student, computer technology was
seen for the first time in their lives. The participating
PNG teacher had minimal introduction to personal
computing through her college training.
While much of the sharing was meaningful,
allowing direct access to students became a challenge,
thus, creation of a project weblog was added to offer a
tele-collaborative opportunity.
The early adopters of weblogs in the classroom have
already created a wide variety of ways to use them.
Even at this still-early stage of development, blogs
are being used as class portals, online filing cabinets
for student work, e-portfolios, collaborative pace,
knowledge management, and even school websites
(Richardson, 2006). Through the unique process of
blogging, students are learning to read more critically,
think about that reading more analytically, and write
more clearly. And, they are building relationships
with peers, teachers, mentors, and professional within
the weblog environment West, Wright, Gabbitas, &
Graham, 2006).
Locating sample blogs is possible with a few
keystrokes. If you were to search for
education/learning related blogs, you will face
millions of weblogs. Under the Google search, you
can search for blogs exclusively. And, knowing some
categories of classroom applications may guided the
organization of exploring the best practices of
Curriculum Gone Digital - One strong trend in
education is the movement for curriculum to a digital,
online environment. By building a “class portal” to
communicate information about the class and archive
course materials is a powerful course management
tool and a great entry point for weblog use to get
comfortable with the transparency that weblogs
provide. In class portal weblog, having a place to
publish the course curriculum and presentations
makes communicating with peers easy and
Online Portfolio - Creating a weblog for each
student can also function as a “digital filing cabinet”
to archive their work. Beyond the benefits of
organizing and managing student papers, weblogs
provides an easy transition to electronic/digital
portfolio. As students collect their work they may
critically reflect to highlight and select work that best
represent their learning progress, which is published
for others to see.
Learning collaboratively from an Expert - In
addition, the Read/Write web opens up all sorts of
new possibilities for students to learn from each other
or from experts in the field. Even though they may be
far away from authors or scientists or other
professional one another physically, they can now
work side by side in digital space. Collaborative
learning has been a buzzword in American education
for some time now and with the use of blogs, this is
made even more accessible.
Of course each implementation of blogs take on a
different nuance to meet the goal of each blog. And,
in this study, use of blogs primarily as a collaborative
space of a global collaboration is highlighted.
As a such collaborative space, Faces of the World
blog was created using the Blogger, web publishing
tool and host server. While new to all participating
teachers and students, the informal feedback were
positive. But, to extend the examination of the
effectiveness of the project blog beyond the anecdotal
reflections, a systemic analysis of blog
implementation from setting up of the blog to the
WEBIST 2007 - International Conference on Web Information Systems and Technologies
development of a constructivist learning environment,
the five-stage framework (Salomon, 2000) is
4.1 Stage One: Access and Motivation
For this first stage, ensuring that the learner can easily
and quickly access the designated online learning
space must be the utmost priority. Usually this will be
to ensure there are no technical problems, for
example, with logins and passwords. Technical
support is critical at this stage as the learner can easily
become frustrated. Simultaneously the teacher/
facilitator needs to ensure that the learners understand
the need to put time and effort into the online activity.
For this Project blog, Blogger (www.blogger.com)
which is owned by Google was selected. Hosting of
the Weblog is free, therefore, there was no need to
worry about setting up or maintaining software. With
ease of setup and access, Blogger offers some privacy
options that makes more ideal for class blog. One the
Project moderator crested the blog, each class was
assigned a group log-in.
4.2 Stage Two: Online Socialization
During this stage, learners need to become
comfortable in the online environment and to
socialize with each other.
Some of the preliminary efforts to establish a
mutually respected learning partnership was
accomplished through exchange of multimedia
presentations from each participating class, which
included photos and narratives that described a day in
a life of a student at their school. To begin online
socialization, Virtual Handshake became the first
blog topic. Select students posted their reflection on
what a handshake symbolized, which prompted into a
rich discussion of cultural values.
There are a number of barriers to consider for a
successful interaction:
overcoming the embarrassment of making a
mistake in front of other participants;
daunting task of the text-based nature of
the newness the environment;
lack of non-verbal and visual cues.
It is essential to create an environment where
learners feel respected and show respect to each
4.3 Stage 3: Information Exchange
Usually this stage of the conference is characterized
by the fast and furious exchange of messages.
Demonstrated by another exciting topic entitled “Lost
World,” this current events interactions neutralized
learning environment.
For example, one of the US classroom read about
a scientific expedition sponsored by the National
Geographic Society of New Guinea’s Foja Mountain.
This mountain region was given the name of “The
Lost World,” as people had not thoroughly explored
until very recently. Through this blog, all
participating students learned about access to
information. It was not until this blog interaction the
PNG students learned about this scientific discoveries
in their native land. As a topic that bridged science,
culture, and literacy, teachers’ perceptions of their
first content-based weblog facilitation exceeded their
anticipated student motivation and learning
Potential of information overload resulted in a
need for a greater structure in the flow of interaction.
The need for teacher/moderator intervention to focus
and direct the interaction because essential.
4.4 Stage 4: Knowledge Construction
As the main focus is building such online community
is student learning, each of the participating teachers
related these scientific and cultural finding to their
respective curriculum.
4.5 Stage 5: Development
The richness of the interaction among participating
students was evident demonstration of high-level
learning. The students willingly embraced the role of
content producer, which was encouraged by the
“published” nature of their work. They were taking
responsibility for their own learning and become
more confident and critical thinkers.
The blogging technology is reported to be quite user
friendly, even for novice users and required minimum
technical knowledge to maintain. Weblog provided an
excellent opportunity for project participants to
express their experiences and feelings for the duration
of the project. It was reported that students felt more
engaged in the project as the progression of the
project was chronicled on the blog for everyone to
A WEBLOG IN PRACTICE - Examination of a Global Telecollaborative Project Blog
A structured learning scaffold offered the essential
support and development to participants at each phase
of their online interaction, as they build up expertise
in learning online. The user-friendliness and
anytime–anywhere access proved to be an
instrumental component in fostering peer learning
relationships. All teachers reported that weblog
component was highly motivating to students and
offered excellent opportunities for reading and
writing skills building. With the ease and flexibility of
the weblog technology, online communication and
collaboration was quickly established among
participating students in a simple form of blogging.
In this type of environment students become a
“community of learners” (Burgstahler & Swift, 1996).
Working with their peers, they become problem
solvers. They began to view their own thoughts and
ideas as significant contribution to the whole
community. Through such tele-collaborative learning,
where both teachers and learners are active
participants in the learning process, knowledge
emerged from active dialogue among those who seek
to understand and apply concepts and techniques.
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WEBIST 2007 - International Conference on Web Information Systems and Technologies