Web 2.0 Wednesday--Come up with a Blogging for Learning Activity
Blogging and "E-Flective" Practice

Blogging for Learning--How To's

This week we're exploring various strategies for using a blog to support personal and formal learning as part of the Work Literacy course's focus on blogging. Today we're going to talk about "how to's" or instructional blogging.

"How to" posts can serve a few purposes in terms of learning.

  • They're a great tool for assessing skill development. If you can write an effective instructional post, then you're demonstrating you have an essential understanding of the skills and tools involved in accomplishing the task or activity you're describing. On an individual level, this can be a check for your own personal learning. If you use "how to" blogging as part of instruction in a course, this allows you as a learning professional to determine if people actually understand and can apply the learning.
  • The process of developing the instructional post actually solidifies learning--it helps learners consolidate different skills and through the process of application, cement the ideas in their brains.
  • Posting a "how to" on a blog invites peer discussion and commentary. You might describe one way to handle a task, but then someone else might offer a tip on how to make some aspect more efficient or effective. The two-way conversational nature of the blog allows you to futher build upon the learning that begin with developing the "how to."
  • "How to" posts can also serve as a collective resource not only for the learners who post them, but also for others in an organization.

In developing "how to's," blogs are really a platform for publishing the information. You can develop written instructions with pictures if that makes sense. But you can also use a tool like Jing to record and post a screencast. You can also record a video demonstration or audio or a VoiceThread presentation. This is one of those areas where choice of presentation method can be a further aide to motivation and learning and blogs lend themselves to using and sharing a variety of engaging media.

Do you use "how to" posts as a tool for personal learning or to support skill development with other learners? How do you use them? What benefits and drawbacks do you see?


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When I first started blogging I used 'how to' posts for exactly the purpose you mention they helped me solidify my learning and increase my skills.

What I've found is the skill level of the intended audience makes a big difference in the tool you use. New people, with lower technical skills, like simple instructions with screenshots, and tend not to like screencasts. Whereas more advanced users can easily cope with screencasts as multitasking is simple and they are used to stopping the video while they watch.

Downside of these types of posts is they do appeal to certain readers and yet turn off other readers (often those looking for deep thinking -- what I call the Shakespeare blog posts). I use these types of posts to help my readers learn how to blog but will mix them up with sharing other information and posts that ask for their input.

Sue, you are the QUEEN of "how to" posts--I always think of you first when I think of this kind of blogging. :-)

I think that most people get the idea of us as learning professionals using blogs as a way to deliver "how to" content to learners (and all your points on this are well-taken), but one thing that I think we often miss is turning it around and having learning come up with their own "how to's" as a form of processing and demonstrating competence.

This actually feeds into some of my frustration in general about how I see a lot of learning professionals thinking about using blogs with learners--I think there's often a quick jump into seeing blogs as a delivery platform and a much greater struggle with thinking about creative ways to use a blog as a tool for learners.

No criticism of you, Sue--just something that occurred to me as I read your comment.

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