Beginning in Fall 2011, The Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) will be switching their Learning Management System to BlackBoard version 9.0 from an older Campus Edition of WebCT. This change is necessary as WebCT was acquired by BlackBoard in 2006 and the product is no longer supported at the level needed by a large community college like CCBC that offers over 300 academic courses online per semester.
BlackBoard 9.0 allows the faculty to integrate blogs into the online course environment. A Blog (or weblog) is an editable web page with entries listed in reverse chronological order. These entries are content, such as personal or directed commentary, descriptions of events, favorite web links, or other material such as graphics or video, that is posted by the user. The blog allows for interactivity of others by allowing readers to post their own comments to the entries. (Zawilinski, 2009).
Analysis Using the SECTIONS Model
As online faculty will already be transitioning to a new learning management system, it will be important to ascertain whether adding a new course tool, like a blog, is a good decision. This paper is an analysis of using blogs in the online classroom using the SECTIONS model as described by Bates and Poole (2005). This model is a framework for selecting and using technology based on eight key aspects (Students, Ease of use and reliability, Costs, Teaching and learning, Interactivity, Organizational issues, Novelty, and Speed).
Bates and Poole (2005) identify three aspects regarding students when selecting technology: access, student demographics, and differences in the way students learn. Access will not be a problem when using blogs within online courses. Students who are enrolled in online courses at CCBC already have access to computers with high-speed internet. Most students have this access at home or work, while others use the computer labs on campus to complete online courses.
As CCBC is a two year institution, student demographics vary greatly from the traditional college student to the older returning to school adult. However, as these blogs will be utilized with an online course, the students will already have some technology exposure and should adapt easily to using a blog regardless of their backgrounds.
Downes (2005) states that blogging is very different from traditionally writing in that it is less formal and written from a personal point of view based on the student’s own interests. Therefore, several different learning styles can be addressed by using blogs.
Ease of use and reliability
According to Downes (2004), “what makes blogs so attractive, in both the educational community and the Internet at large, is their ease of use. A blog owner can edit or update a new entry without worrying about page formats or HTML syntax.” Using a blog within an online course that uses BlackBoard 9.0 is just as easy. BlackBoard blogs have just two components: ...