Enhancing learning beyond the classroom: blogging and other social networking tools

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Blogging has become one of the key ingredients of the so-called socials networks. This phenomenon has indeed invaded the world of education. Connections between people, comments on each other posts, and assessment of innovation are usually interesting characteristics of blogs related to students and scholars. Blogs have become a kind of new form of authority, bringing about (divergent) discussions which lead to creation of knowledge. The use of blogs as an innovative, educational tool is not at all new. However, their use in universities is not very widespread yet. Blogging for personal affairs is rather commonplace, but blogging for professional affairs – teaching, research and service, is scarce, despite the availability of ready-to-use, free tools. Unfortunately, Information Society has not reached yet enough some universities: not only are (student) blogs scarcely used as an educational tool, but it is quite rare to find a blog written by University professors. The Institute of Computational Chemistry of the University of Girona and the Department of Chemistry of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona has joined forces to create “InnoCiència”, a new Group on Digital Science Communitation. This group, formed by ca. ten researchers, has promoted the use of blogs, twitters. wikis and other tools of Web 2.0 in activities in Catalonia concerning the dissemination of Science, like Science Week, Open Day or Researchers’ Night. Likewise, its members promote use of social networking tools in chemistry- and communication-related courses. This communication explains the outcome of social-network experiences with teaching undergraduate students and organizing research communication events. We provide live, hands-on examples and interactive ground to show how blogs and twitters can be used to enhance the yield of teaching and research. Impact of blogging and other social networking tools on the outcome of the learning process is very depending on the target audience and the environmental conditions. A few examples are provided and some proposals to use these techniques efficiently to help students are hinted ​
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