Personal Blogs or Communal Blogs? - Pre-Service Teachers' Perceptions Regarding the Contribution of These Two Platforms to their Professional Development

Published: 
2018

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education Volume 69, Pages 253-262

Although educational blogging is not a new phenomenon, the use of blogs in teacher education in Israel is still in its early stages. In line with the above-mentioned study aims, which focused on exploring the pre-service teachers' perceived usefulness of blogs in their professional development and training, the following two research questions were examined:

• What are the perceptions of pre-service teachers regarding the contribution of personal blogs and communal blogs to their professional development?

• Which platform do pre-service teachers prefer: the personal blog or the communal blog? and why?

The study was conducted at a college of education located in a major city in the center of Israel. As part of the teacher education program, pre-service teachers engage in a full school day of practical work once a week throughout the academic year (two semesters). Each pre-service teacher's practical work includes the following: (1) planning lesson experiences with one student or more, selected by the pre-service teacher in consultation with the teacher educator, (2) implementing the lessons, (3) receiving feedback on their practice from both the pedagogy instructor and the other pre-service teachers at the same school, (4) observing fellow pre-service teachers, the teacher trainer, and other professionals in the classroom, (5) attending meetings with school officials (e.g., the school principal, the school counselor), and (6) initiating unique educational initiatives at the school (e.g., creating special learning spaces, staging educational events). Various incidents that occurred during the practical work and the reflections derived from them were posted on a personal or communal blog. These posts could be accompanied by photos, videos of the pre-service teacher's practice, and links to relevant sites. The blog was situated in the course site on the MOODLE platform. The current study extended over a period of two years and included two groups of predominantly female pre-service teachers training to be elementary-school teachers.

In conclusion, teacher educators who wish to use the personal blog, the communal blog, or both as an accompaniment to their courses or to their college students' practical work should examine the findings and conclusions of this study. In choosing the suitable platform, they may take into account their particular educational approach (cognitive-constructivism, social-constructivism), defining the aim of their course (peer learning, self-inquiry), and identifying the unique needs of their students (self-exploration, peer support).
According to these study results, if the teaching goal is to develop social learning, the communal blog should afford the benefit of peers' encouragement, diverse perspectives, and sharing, and should be used as one open space wherein all practicum participants can read one another's posts and comment on them. If the teaching goal is to develop self-inquiry, the personal blog should afford the benefit of disclosure, a close relationship with the pedagogy instructor, and an understanding of the importance of reflective thinking. It should be used as a more closed space where only the pedagogy instructor can read and comment on the pre-service teachers' posts. Nevertheless, in order to elevate pre-service teachers' learning in each type of blog to a higher level of thinking and reflection, the pedagogy instructor or another teacher educator should act as a facilitator who sheds light on specific aspects of the practicum experience presented in the pre-service teachers' posts, raises questions, and conducts a profound discussion on them virtually or face-to-face. 

Updated: Feb. 13, 2018
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