Framework to guide blogging in higher education

In the first stage of the authors’ work, they discovered four things that students consider when blogging for their course: audience, community, presentation, and comments. This paper details the second stage, in which they ultimately flesh out those four things and expand it to make a framework that students and learning designers can use when incorporating blogging into a course.

Kerawalla, L., Minocha, S., Kirkup, G., and Conole, G. (2009) ‘An empirically grounded framework to guide blogging in higher education’, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, vol. 25, pp. 31-42 [Online]. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2008.00286.x.


  1. Introduction
  2. The challenge of educational blogging
  3. Methodology
  4. Findings
    1. Students’ blogging behaviours
      1. Carrying out course-directed activities to share
      2. Carrying out course activities for oneself
      3. Keeping a learning journal
      4. Blogging as self-motivation
      5. Creating a personal online store
    2. The technological context
      1. Use of the blog in relation to other course communication tools
      2. Functionality of the blogging software
    3. The pedagogical context
  5. A framework for student bloggers and educators
  6. Discussion
    1. Integrating the technology within the pedagogy of the course and clarifying its role to the students
    2. Students’ blogging behaviours: adapting and making their own choices
    3. The framework and its role in guiding students and course designers


They discovered that the students had different reasons for blogging. In keeping with the previous study, they investigated the four considerations for each of the reasons. Note that 4/9 were blogging to share, but really 5/9 were blogging for their own reasons not necessarily to share. It seems the self-sufficient ones who were blogging for themselves and for their own reasons were the ones who blogged throughout the course. Blogging because it was required or because they wanted an audience/community was not enough to sustain blogging.

About audience
About community
About comments
About presentation
Blogging to share (4/9) 44%
‘These four students stopped blogging shortly after completing the [one assigned] activity’ (Kerawalla et al., 2009, p. 36).
Wanted an audience
Did not receive comments, and so they felt isolated
Wanted comments and ‘were soon disappointed by the lack of interaction’ (Kerawalla et al., 2009, p. 35)
Took care with the presentation
Blogging to meet course learning objectives (1/9) 11%
Blogged because he thought it was mandatory for the course. He ‘stopped blogging halfway through the course’ (Kerawalla, 2009 et al., p. 36)
Did not care about having an audience
Was not concerned about community
Did not expect comments and did not find them helpful
Took some care with grammar, as he would with his own journal notes
Blogging as a learning journal (1/9) 11%
‘As he was not reliant on his audience for motivation, he was blogging throughout the duration of the course’ (Kerawalla et al., 2009, p. 36).
Open to having an audience, but this was not a big concern or motivator.
Wanted a sense of community, but did not feel that it happened, and so he blogged for himself instead
Welcomed comments but did not seek them
Took care with the presentation, which he shaped as essays
Blogging for self-motivation (1/9) 11%
‘She was blogging throughout the duration of the course’ (Kerawalla et al., 2009, p. 37).
Wanted an audience, but did not have a big one
She used the blog for personal and school comments, and was behind in the studies — without a community,  she used the blog as a way of talking to herself
Received comments especially from students who had known her from the previous course
This was not important to her
Blogging to store notes (2/9) 22%
‘One student blogged several times a month throughout the whole course, while the other student blogged minimally and sporadically’ (Kerawalla et al., 2009, p. 37).
This was not important to them
This was not important to them
This was not wanted, and comments felt intrusive
This was not important to them

The blogging technology

Some of the learners liked blogging because they felt that they owned the site and had greater ownership over the content in their posts. Two mentioned that their blog spaces felt more informal than the forums. However, several students were confused about when to blog versus when to post to the forum, and one person gave up blogging because he felt there were too many different locations for student dialogue.

Some of the learners used a blogging tool that was outside the Open University (OU) environment because the OU blogging tool did not allow for exporting. They did not want to lose their work.

The framework

As a result of this study, the authors created this framework. It provides questions that learners can ask themselves before blogging in support of their learning, and/or that learning designers and teachers can ask before designing and teaching a class that offers blogging as a supporting tool for learning (so that they can make the reasoning clear to the learners). The lower half provides questions that correspond with the four considerations (audience, community, comments, and presentation):


(Kerawalla et al., 2009, p. 39)

See also

There are a set of studies done by these same authors, all within courses at OU about blogging:

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