IBLC11-Abstracts-Engaging Creative Arts students using blogs and online communities
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13 May 2011
Author: Mr Tony Reeves
How is it possible to evidence whether students are engaging with a course? What can be done to increase their level of engagement? Johnson (2010) states that the sense of community felt by students in online courses can be integral in determining the level of course completion and satisfaction. This research project aimed to investigate whether student engagement could be increased through the use of blogs to develop an online community around a course, and to establish the effectiveness of blogs at evidencing engagement.
The research used a case study methodology to examine the CG Arts and Animation course at UCA Rochester. The research revealed that the course team had successfully developed a thriving online community involving students, staff, alumni and industry, helping the course to move from 100% dissatisfaction to 100% satisfaction in the National Student Survey over three years. An evaluation of the activity on the blogs concluded that a Community of Practice (Wenger, 1998) had developed around the course with clear benefits for both students and staff. The discursive, commentary nature of blogging enabled students to engage in peer-supported learning, and the online ‘always on’ nature of the community provided a 24/7 support network. In addition, tutors were able to clearly assess the level of engagement of each student and provide targeted, timely feedback for those students who required more support.
This case study is helping the Learning Technologists at UCA develop a model for implementing collaborative online technologies in an Art and Design courses. The next step is to establish whether such a model is applicable to subject areas that are not as computer-based as CG Arts and Animation.
Keywords: Blogs, collaboration, communities, student engagement, art & design