Educational blogs and their effects on pupils' writing

Myra Barrs and Sarah Horrocks

This research report explores the effect that writing on online blogs can have for primary school pupils. The research project was led by the London Connected Learning Centre.

The key aim of this study was to explore the differences in pupils' writing on blogs compared to their other writing. The secondary aims were to investigate the potential for using blogging to develop pupils' writing skills and to identify good practice in blogging: the elements that supported (or hindered) effective use of blogging to further writing skills.

Many schools are launching school blogs as a way of developing their online profiles and involving pupils in digital writing. Blogs are used in many different ways. In some case they are used as a way of sharing class activities with pupils' family members and caregivers, or as a showcase for pupils' writing - a kind of online school magazine with a wider audience. In other cases they can be used as 'work blogs', a way of establishing ongoing learning dialogues with pupils, sometimes including personal journal spaces for individuals.

Blogging was found to inspire the pupils in this study and gave them access to new kinds of writing and new audiences. In general pupils' writing was different on the blogs and for some groups of pupils, such as those with English as an additional language, it was judged by the teachers to be better than the writing in their books.

In most classrooms, for most pupils, blogging resulted in pupils' increased engagement in writing, increased confidence in writing, greater awareness of audience, greater sense of their 'voice' as a writer, greater awareness of their own writing and that of others, and an enhanced sense of belonging to a writing community.