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One of the ways in which we learn, as students, is through taking notes; one of the ways in which we revise is to read through those notes. I think we’d all agree with that.
Traditionally, those notes have been made on paper in exercise books; there’s nothing wrong in that but what I want to suggest is that using a blog is a better tool.
Why is a blog a better tool?
Your note books and loose sheets of note paper can easily get lost, torn or spoiled over time. What use are they if your studies last one, two or three years at the end of which, you turn to your notes for revision only to find … well, that you cannot find them or, if you can find them, that you cannot read them or only bits are available. The advantage of putting notes onto a blog is that they are available in perpetuity. You can access them at any time from any computer, or smartphone or tablet, which has internet access. You can add to them or amend them at any time and you can read and reread them whenever you want or need.
Not only can they be read by you but you can also share them and let fellow students read them. Not just read them, of course, but also to add comments. Let’s just suppose you write a blog post on what you’ve learned in one lesson and a fellow student comes along later, reads your post and thinks ‘that’s not quite right’, they add a comment to that effect and suggests what they think. Some teachers may call that cheating; modern teachers prefer to call it co-operation.
How about this, then? Let’s say you don’t know the answer to a question. So you put a post on your blog, explaining your situation and asking others for their answer. Along comes a friendly soul who provides you with the answer you’re looking for or tells you where to go for more information.Is this wrong? Of course not, again this is just co-operation. The only caveat is that you will need to check the ‘answer’ given but, hey, that’s all part of learning!
That’s a couple of times now that I’ve mentioned co-operation. Co-operation is a thing that works two ways, so you too can read other students blog posts and maybe you can find occassions where you can add a comment to help a fellow student. Or just maybe you can find a student somewhere in the world who is doing the same studies as you, so you can perhaps agree to study together, share your studies and share your findings; maybe even share the workload.
I can see some people starting to see a bit of a problem here in that a blog will contain posts that relate to each student’s study in a a range of subjects and it is likely that these posts will get mixed up. One day there will be a post of mathematics, the next there may be one on biology, then the next day the student will post two posts on Physics and Psychology. Carried on over a two or three year period, these notes are going to get very jumbled, especially if the student wants to post items about social life as well. This is where tags and categories come in; each post can be tagged by subject or topic of study and each subject can be assigned a category. Then when the student wants to read their notes they can do a search by tag or category and only those selected posts will appear.
Aha, I can hear some of you saying smugly but even if we use tags and categories correctly, there will still be a lot of material to read through and they’ll be in reverse order (with the oldest last and the newest first) and it isn’t always easy to read through post by post on a screen in order to revise. Well, I agree, which is why I advocate the use of a plugin like Anthologize, which will turn all your selected posts into an ebook or pdf so that you can either read on screen or print off.
So there, you are, I have tried to present just some of the reasons why I feel students should be allowed and encouraged to use blogging as a learning and revision tool.