Digital Learning Technologies. Experience and Evidence

Academic Paper, 2018

24 Pages, Grade: 74


I. Digital Technologies
1.1. Blog technology
1.2. Mobile telephone technology

II. Digital Technologies: Recommendations
2.1. Blog technology
2.1.1. Knowing your subject and choosing the right blogging platform
2.1.2. Setting up clear guidelines and expectations
2.1.3. Be realistic, monitor and Integrate class curriculum
2.2. Mobile technology

III. Digital Technologies: Design or Specification
3.1. Blog learning activity
3.1.1. Characteristics of learners
3.1.2. Barriers that learners may face
3.1.3. The schools guideline for a course design
3.1.4. Expected Module Outcomes
3.1.5. Training content, plan and design

IV. Digital Technologies: Individual and Collaborative Learning


Abstract : This paper takes a look at blogging and mobile learning, the two technologies that underpin the learner's experience of technology-enhanced learning. Each technology is critically discussed in terms of how it supports teaching and learning and judged against its strength and weaknesses in specific contexts. Based on concrete evidence, including the author's design of the learning activity, key recommendations were given to other practitioners as to how they can use each technology for teaching. One finding is that, as traditional classrooms change, blogging can help students develop the necessary educational skills, but more research is needed to understand the changing nature of teaching and learning as a result of using blogs. To overcome many obstacles related to mobile technology, a solid strategy was recommended. In conclusion, the author found the concept of individual and collaborative learning useful, especially in understanding the experience of learners in a given context.

Key Words : Use of Blog in Learning, Online and Distance Education, Mobile Learning, Students and Teachers’ Experience with Technology, Web 2.0 Tools, Individual and Collaborative Learning, Learning Design and Specification.

I. Digital Technologies

1.1. Blog technology

While the use of Web 2.0 tools, specifically blogs are becoming more and more popular in higher education (Garcia et al., 2015 ), and powerful tools in today's learning (Christopher, 2014), this has been a new topic for the learner on the Technology-Enhanced Learning (H800). The fact that I had never written a personal blog before was explained by Bayne (2005) who talks about online identity. The use of different social networking sites being so paramount in my online experience, I found myself preferring to use those which allow users to control their privacy and/or use alias names unlike blogs. By discussing with my peers, reading their blogs and Kerawalla et al. (2008), I was able to understand and use blogs and have ideas about their strengths and weaknesses in promoting learning as well as how such tools may affect teaching and learning.

While some of my peers had written a blogs even before the course started, I had the opportunity to discuss with them the role of blogs in learning and teaching, but I found myself even more reluctant to write my own blog. Fortunately, Cameroon and Anderson's (2006) argument about the blog's long-term learning ability has been very appealing and convincing. For example, while many peers’ blogs were reflecting on their previous learning, I couldn’t even remember the topic covered in previous weeks and the idea was most appealing when we were asked to watch a clip of student teachers who had written reflective blog surrounding their studies (JISC, 2010). I eventually decided to publish my own reflective blog but I seemed to be a very self-conscious writer, trying to pitch my blog based on my peers’. While I was so anxious in reading and commenting on my peers’ blogs, being also uncomfortable with writing my own blogs, I learnt a lot from my colleagues and I now believe, that I learnt the way I would go online and overcame my concerns about how I might be perceived by other learners. I found blog experience very rewarding and intend to keep updating my blog and consolidate my blog learning experience with future modules.

When trying to share my appreciations as visiting teacher at a high school, I asked some of my students to write personal blogs reflecting on the topic they previously covered in business strategy. I gave them instructions on how to set up their blogs and asked them to visit their peers’ blogs and leave a comment. Surprisingly, in a class of 39 students only 11 published their blogs and three commented on their peers’ blogs. I tried to comment and ask questions to see if I can encourage interaction but could not. When some students shared their blogs on other social media sites like Facebook, they got four times like than comments. This confirms Bayne (2005)’s idea about students fear of disclosing their identity in online environment.

This activity would have been more valuable if students had spent time reading and commenting on each other’s blog posts. I realized that I could have allowed them to use alias names hoping that anonymity makes people open and honest well as giving them the ability to be self and feel at ease as if they are using their preferred social site. Bayne (2005) stated: “as they adopt their chosen online identity, people can experience freer borders”. When I asked some of my students about why they were unable to post their blogs, some said that they did get that point of writing blogs while they have class notes that they use to review. However one of them also mentioned that he enjoys working independently and didn’t really want to share his ideas online. From this experience, I felt that there is still a special need to research on how high school students use blogs.

On the other hand, Kerawalla et al. (2008) have studied the perceived benefits of Web 2.0 technologies, particularly the blog, in which he tries to determine if these tools constitute opportunities for online learners, based on student experiences. While it was argued that web 2.0 technologies are supporting learning in higher education, with increasing students’ interest in blog (Weller, Pegler, and Mason 2005), surprisingly Prensky (2001) highlighted that even half of the so called Net Generation had never read a blogs. This was later confirmed by Kennedy et al. (2008) who indicated that 65.1% of respondents had never written a blog and 56.1% had never visited a blog. Although Kerawalla et al. (2008) keep doubting about the effectiveness of teaching and learning using blogs, Williams and Jacobs (2004) insist that blogging have the potential to bring about a new kind of online sociality, arguing also that these technologies are effective only if there is a synergic work. The later are support by recent study on the technology enhanced learning which suggest that as technology progresses, students’ blogging experience is increasing, using the web 2.0 tools’ strengths to promote and improve the learning (Christopher, 2014).

Beyond the H800, recent study suggests that Web 2.0 tools provide a link between learners, teachers, subject expertise and general audience, allowing information to flow in multiple directions and meeting the individual needs of learners. An aspect of Web 2.0, blogs are becoming an increasingly popular tool in teaching and learning in higher education (Garcia, 2015). Glori H. Smith (2009) and Masoud (2012) acknowledge the recently exciting explosion of experimentation with weblogs or blogging in the school setting where Emelia, Rahman and Melor (2013) added that the increased use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in education was due to the increased reliance on internet, adding that teachers increasingly feel that ICT is an effective way to connect with their students and inspire them to learn. Although they did reflect on students’ blogging experience, it should be noted that students are familiar with and feel it’s easy to use blog in learning (Emelia, Rahman and Melor, 2013). In their study, students gave positive feedback on learning through blogs because they could share their thoughts unlike the traditional classroom and they recommended that other courses should be taught using the same method. Here Ahmad (2013) recommends the improvement of ICT facilities, for example by availing internet connection so that students and instructor can post more articles, clips and give more feedback on their comments as this could improve and help them more in their own learning. In addition, different authors have discussed the strengths of blogs in today’s learning and teaching.

On the University of Sydney’s blog dated January 2018, they said that blogs have the potential to promote open dialogue and to encourage community building in which both the bloggers and commenters exchange opinions, ideas, and attitudes. In this regard, teachers use blogs to publish educational materials to which students have access and where students can comment. It was also mentioned that students, in their turn, set up their own blogs, share them with other students and receive relevant tasks from teachers. This helps teachers to monitor students learning progress and identify learning needs that have not been considered, for example when students express doubt on a topic, etc. Downes (2004) also emphasized the strength of blogs in linking to Internet items relating to courses, organizing class seminars and to provide summaries of readings. It was supplemented by Huffaker (2006) who explored the role of weblogs in promoting literacy in the classroom, a concrete example being the storytelling that ignites literacy and remains an important part of the life of childhood at adulthood. Many other authors, like Garcia et al, 2012; Toyle, Keri, Morris, Bradley, 2017; Marc S.,Qing L., Ralf K.,Rynson W. H. L.(2009) and Stoyle, Keri L.; Morris, Bradley J. (2017), conclude that blogs offer different education opportunities that traditional classrooms cannot. However blogs may present some drawbacks once not properly used in education.

Although blogs were described as important tools in learning and teaching, they also present a number of concerns such as the copyright issues where outsiders may steal intellectual properties (Julia, 2015). While there is a confidentiality concerns, teachers also argue on the difficulty of grading too many students’ blogs which is very overwhelming to educators, she added. Hossain, Mokter & Quinn, Robert. (2012) add that students who didn’t have previous experience in blogging find it difficult and even those who are familiar may have difficulty in inserting mathematic notations.

As a conclusion blogs were found useful tools in teaching, a safe place for student to explore their own but they are not for everyone or for all classes and need to be made an integral part of the course design since they allow the students and instructor to interact in a way that may otherwise not be possible. However, blogging should not replace face-to-face interaction, but it may provide a practice environment where students can think, reflect, and create language slowly for a real-life audience. In addition, its popularity outside the classroom can be a driving force for young, technologically savvy learners. For this reason, educators are interested in motivating their learners to communicate and learning beyond the classroom can benefit from integrating blogging projects into their classrooms. While more research needs to be done on how blogs can be used more effectively, it is clear that technology will continue to influence learning.

1.2. Mobile telephone technology

While I used the phone for communication and especially for social issues, I never thought it could be a learning tool. This is related to the prohibition of my previous schools from using mobile phones in schools and this has become a government regulations that made me think like Sophie (2018) that telephones are more distractive than beneficial to students. However, in the second week of the H800, John (2018) discussed how people learn and the different learning tools were explored. While week 12 focused on learning and teaching approaches, week 17 introduced me to different perceptions of new technologies in education and, more specifically, discussions focused on mobile learning in the classroom during week 19. As results, after uunderstanding the type of students we are experiencing today, the benefits of learning technologies and the way my Android phone has been particularly flexible for my learning, I absolutely chose to write about mobile learning.

Research indicates that most students use mobile telephones for social interactions, chatting and sending texts to each other (Ersin et al. 2011, Emma et al. 2016). Similarly, my own experience in using mobile telephone consisted of sending/receiving work related calls/messages, reading online journals and interacting with friends via WhatsApp. This was also the case for most of my classmates on H800 as per discussions made in week 19. Although we most appreciated the mobile learning opportunities, many authors are so strict on the disadvantages of the use of mobile telephones in education (Shudong&Michael, 2005; George, 2015; Mohankumar, 2015 and Alexis, 2018). As results, even though students’ experience is different, people have different perceptions in the students’ use of mobile telephone for learning.

On one side, Kukulska-Hulme et al. (2011) found that students use smartphones to browse different websites, but there is no clear indication that they do so for learning purposes. To this end Joanna (2015) mentioned that using smartphone can be detrimental to students’ social-emotional development. In addition to the distracting nature of mobile phones, Mohankumar (2015) said that these devices can also allow students to cheat, which makes it difficult to test their learning. On the point of learning anywhere and anytime, Shudong & Michael (2005) don’t see it as a learning opportunity because “it is very hard to follow up on the learning achievements of those attempting it”, yet the lack of learning atmosphere and learning framework are argued to encourage laziness which may be a reason that many students who start distance learning do not complete it (Heath, 2018). In trying to link these ideas to the idea of students abduction on mobile technology (Margued, 2008; Ellis, 2013), lack of focus due to constant incoming messages and calls (Alexis, 2018), multitasking (John, 2008) and to what was explored in the first week of H800, where Naughton (2008) presented the information behavior of the future researchers, I understood that learning using cell phone can expose learners to skimming in reading without deep knowledge from the reading. This was complementary to research that found that most mobile phone screens are between 1.5 and 2.6 inches in size (Jkielty, 2018), a size that is good for reviewing text but usually not for longer than one or two minutes, as for longer than that people’s eyes become tired (Bryan, 2014). Gaby (2018) also pointed out the inconvenience of mobile phones for learning. They found that students with excessive cell phone habits exhibited chronic agitation, reliance on stimulating drinks, difficulty falling asleep at night, and fatigue and stress. However, despite all limitations, there was no considerations for age groups, effectiveness and the nature of self-organization of mature students. Also given that learning include informal and unstructured learning, this reiterates the hypothesis that cell phones constitute very important learning tools in today growing technology.

Research indicates an increasing mobile phone ownership across different countries, where students account a big number in this (Daniel, 2016). As I found myself in this number, I can testify the easy of using mobile telephones to access information. Specifically on H800, my phone enabled me to access course-related information because by subscribing to different students group forums, I could be notified of any posts from colleagues/tutor and read them at my convenient. As a proud owner of an android 7.0 Techno F3, I could download the course materials and the recording for offline review, even in the absence of internet. Instead of taking printed notes, textbooks or going to a computer lab as I used to do, I could carry around all my module materials in my phone and could study wherever my phone was, even in a taxi or while in bed. It really made me appreciate the Mohamed (2009) and Atif & Naveed’s (2010) idea of ​​learning anytime, anywhere, as well as mobile learning, by giving students the choice to access content at their convenience. As Davids (2015), it also became easier for me to use my translator instead of taking out a dictionary and instead of going through books to find a piece of literature, I could find the book online and be directed to specific words. This has not only reduced time for reading documents (effectiveness), but like Daniel (2016), it also proved that my learning quality was good because I could easily review and reflect on the comments from my peers to consolidate my learning.

Beyond the H800, Mobile telephone has eased the way I receive and share information with colleagues, especially through different social media. For example, inspired by Annica and Ulrike (2011), I facilitated peer-to-peer discussions through special groups on self-managed platforms, namely Facebook and WhatsApp, to improve performance and cohesion of our team. It was a hands-on learning that was done using texting, calling and recording, where the information was passed directly to colleagues and comments were fast. Based on Dominique’s (2018) idea of collaborative learning, the more we interact, the more we learn. Although in Jeffrey’s (2013) research students who don’t use mobile phone write detailed notes and record 67% more information than those who use phones, his study suggests that mobile phones are a suitable learning tool for students. Similarly, Mtega, Bernard, Msungu, & Sanare, (2012) found that mobile phones facilitate immediate access to information resources needed for teaching and learning, as well as being cost-efficient. This confirms the importance of mobile phones to poor users because of their flexibility, versatility and convenience, making them ubiquitous in terms of ownership, whether it is taken on trips and where it is subsequently used (Kenton, Mark, Abigail and Barry, 2015).

In short, despite different perceptions and limitations associated with the use of mobile devices by students, mobile phones, when used properly, are affordable and widespread learning and teaching tools that facilitate information accessibility at a learner’s convenience. They are believed to help both teachers and learners to interact seamlessly with each other, in both formal and informal learning contexts (Joanna, 2014).

II. Digital Technologies: Recommendations

2.1. Blog technology

As part of the web 2.0 tools, blogs were found potential social media tools that allow class participants to share ideas with a genuine audience and engage those audiences in the conversation (Oliver and Coble, 2016). Although people claim that blogs can only foster non-academic interactions (Christopher, 2014), they can be used in learning and teaching, and I am optimistic about the use of technologies used by the rest of the world for communications. Below are some of the key recommendations on effective use of blogs in educations.


Excerpt out of 24 pages


Digital Learning Technologies. Experience and Evidence
The Open University  (School of Educational Technology)
Technology-Enhanced Learning: Practices and Debates
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
Use of Blog in Learning, Online and Distance Education, Mobile Learning, Students and Teachers’ Experience with Technology, Web 2.0 Tools, Individual and Collaborative Learning, Learning Design and Specification
Quote paper
Dr. Sixbert Sangwa (Author), 2018, Digital Learning Technologies. Experience and Evidence, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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