nOU to blogging

The Open University is one of the world’s largest, oldest and most respected practitioners in technology-supported distance learning. So you’d think blogging would be the technology du jour.

However, it appears this is not necessarily the case. A very interesting survey by Lucinda Kerawalla and colleagues at the OU found that, of nearly 800 Open University distance learners, only 18% thought that blogs and blogging would be ‘useful’ or ‘fairly useful’ within the course. Even more interesting was the fact that only 8% of the students who were about to embark on courses that may well utilise blog-based work had their own blog, and only just over half had ever even read a blog. A further 35% of the sample did not want the OU to provide a blog as part of their studies.

The authors note in their conclusions: “These findings suggest that, although educators recognise the potential for blogging to support learning, most students do not agree” (p. 176).

Of course the OU caters for an audience that is likely to be older than the typical cohort of a traditional university, but, given the astonishing levels of media-hype and supposed general public interest in Web 2.0 services and technologies these figures make sobering reading.

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