Blogs for MOOCs, blogs for ePortfolios

As the 2015 academic year rolls around, our use of blogging at UOW continues to grow.

After negotiations flowing from a report to the Learning Platform Steering group regarding sustainable support models, we have handed over the reigns for the blog-create process to Robert Robinson and his team at IMTS, and Learning Teaching and Curriculum will continue to support the teachings-specific usages of blogs. In particular, we are seeing a spike of usage in our Maths MOOC (delivered in a blog) and we are working with colleagues in Workplace Health and Safety to create a Maths MOOC that is specific to the needs of the calculations in the new Masters of Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) program. Below is the intro video clip that explains why WHS students and working professionals need to keep up their Maths skills. And in exciting news, we are working with edublogs (our service provider) to come up with a batch/bulk blog create process that will allow us to create 650 new blogs-as-eportfolios in a large first year LHA subject.

MOOCers and Shakers: March 2014

Prof. Stuart Kaye and I gave an overview of our MOOC experiences yesterday, and today I repeat the same via video-conference for interested staff and students at Shoalhaven and Bega campuses.

Here are the 2 short handouts I made up: one for the Reluctant Mathematician MOOC that i co-ordinate, and one for the Ocean Governance MOOC(developed by Stuart and his colleagues at ANCORS.)

And here is a video with Stuart and his colleague Robin Warner telling their story – why they developed a MOOC and how they’re using that experience to leap into fully online course delivery.

2013 In Review

Merry Christmas from the OpenUOW Team!

 It’s been a busy year! For the first time we’ve been able to collate detailed statistics across all our blogging sites and the data has been better than we anticipated.

Across all our sites we had a view count of 53 021, with 40 494 being unique visitors to the sites.  Beyond that there was a total of 101 799 page views with
79 208 of those being unique visitors.

A big congratulations goes to the team at the Student Life Blog who took out the number one place for page views with 16 627 unique views. We had a wide variety of blogs within our top viewed; it’s great to see that both the social and academic side garnering support.

We were also able to see just how our visitors were reaching our blogging sites. Of the 53 021 visitors, just under half (24 158) came directly to the site using the url. Another 15 025 visitors were referred to our sites through Google.

On the social media front, 80% of our traffic from social media came through Facebook. It’s great to see that the bloggers are pushing the blogs out through social media channels, and that these are getting a good response from readers.

On our OpenUOW YouTube Channel, since its launch in June we have had 4028 views on our videos and gained 52 subscribers.  Our top ten videos so far are:

 This year also saw the implementation of UOWs first ever MOOC. In partnership with Open2Study Dr Kylie Mansfield and Associate Professor Lyndal Parker-Newlyn from the Graduate School of Medicine launched ‘Understanding Common Diseases’ with 1502 students completing the course. A huge success for UOWs first ever MOOC!

It’s been a fantastic year for our Open Education initiatives and 2014 is shaping up to be even bigger. From all of us at OpenUOW, have a safe and happy holidays!

August Blog Stats

Hey Bloggers,

Here are our stats from August:

Our blogs had a total number of 5798 views with 4945 unique visitors.

This translated to a massive 8881 page views.



Once again the folks over at Student Life have taken out our top spot of most viewed blog over the passed month. They also took it one step further and had four posts in our top ten most viewed pages. Congratulations guys!

Lorraine Denny has kicked off the E-Optimism course, run through PODS, and this also made it up into our top ten.

The Moodle Learners and Builders blog was also up in our top ten, and it’s great to see that people are checking out information on Moodle while we move through the transition on the learning platform.

The breakdown of our traffic sources shows the largest portion of our audience is coming directly to the sites: ie they know the URL
From our referred sites a massive 40% of our audience coming across from Facebook. Keep up the cross promotion on social media, it is definitely working! The remainder of our referrals came through the UOW website and search engine queries.

Excellent work across all fronts.

Keep it up.

Happy Blogging!

Creative Commons and Copyright-free images

We’ve been looking in to sourcing images that can be used by our bloggers in their blogs, and have found a wealth of images that fit the bill. It’s all part of the Flickr image sharing website.

Firstly, there is a historical archive of photographs with no known copyright restrictions developed by over 50 contributing organisation called The Commons. It includes photos from 6 major Australian libraries/museums. And you can explore creative commons licenced images ie search through contemporary photos contributed by people all over the world, who are happy to share their work via a creative commons attribution/share alike license.

The license agreement allows a person to share (copy, distribute and transmit the work) and adapt the work, so long as the work is attributed in the specified manner of the author, and that any adaption made to the work is also distributed under the same licence conditions.

More info on the specifics of the licence agreement can be found here

Google Analytics Update

Just a quick update on our Google Analytics stats.
Between March 22 – April 21 our blogging sites had 5679 views, with 4046 unique visitors. This broke down into 16 753 page views, with each visit averaging 3.5 minutes. Well done bloggers, you are writing good stuff, and our readers are doing more than just skimming your content!

The MGMT901 Blog, a private teaching resource blog) accounted for 8785 page views, not surprising that it topped the list as the students were logging on to submit their essays and use the web-form for peer review. Our analytics data also indicates that the students are successfully navigating hundreds of blog entries using the categories that have been set up.

Excluding the MGMT site, the most popular sites were:

The breakdown in the traffic sources shows that:

  • Half of all visitors are coming to the sites directly, i.e. they know the URL
  • One third were referred from a non-search engine site – Facebook was the most common referral in this category – so we are bringing ‘friends of friends’ to our blogs who may not have ben aware of us otherwise. Next to this, the most common referral was from the various parts of the UOW website
  • The remaining group found us while looking for particular information via search engines, i.e. they googled us

Excellent work! It’s great to see our blogs getting so many hits.

Happy blogging!

Blogging tasks and assessments for your uni class

As the session gets underway, we’ve had some interesting new blog requests for new teaching blogs. I have been asked for information on how to get students writing good blog posts, and how these can be assessed.

Read on for my reply…

Academic Blogging

In an academic setting, student’s blog postings are often made in response to the various educational resources presented ie lectures, readings, or case studies. Word length ranges are usually specified ie 250-750 words. The aim of the activity often has a component of “demonstrate that you have read and understood the materials” and often asks student to write a reflective c500 words blog post explaining whether they agreed or disagreed with material presented, or to compare and contrast theories presented, or to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of a case.

A different blog-related task is to ask the student to locate 3 other articles on a class topic and blog about those new resources – it could een extend to posting a draft annotated bibliography to support a larger essay or assignment. I have also seen blogging used to host on online debate, where students in teams wrote for or against a topic, and guest/expert markers judged who won the debate. Feedback was made to each team via the blog commenting feature.

As you can see, for each different type of blogging task – the marking criteria is subtly different as it flows from what is asked of the students in the task. So for ease of writing good marking criteria, first you need to design and write up a good blogging task!

Marking criteria examples

For example, if the activity is to “demonstrate that you have read and understood the materials” – and to write a reflective c500 words (ie blog post) explaining whether students agreed or disagreed with points of views taken in readings required for that week, then the marking criteria would be around  how clearly they have taken a position, how well they have explained and justified that position, referring to (all/some/few) the materials presented.

If the blog post was a compare and contrast type of writing activity, then the marking criteria might ask for a certain number eg 3-5 similarities which are noted and justified, and a certain number of differences noted and justified.

You might want the students to summarise the material, or take a certain point of view in which case the marking criteria would be about synthesising the different sources into a cohesive argument. For an annotated bibliography, it would be about the number, variety and quality of each source, and perhaps the succinctness or helpfulness of the annotation.

Giving marks for commenting on students’ posts

Similarly, if you want the students to read and comment on each other’s work, there should be an aim for this which can be used to shape the marking criteria. For example, if there’s an international perspective focus in your task, the students might be asked to find 3 posts where the situation described in the blog post is different to how things are done in their country/culture – and be asked to write a 350 word reply (ie comment) to each explaining how things are done in their country/culture and to offer an opinion as to the pros and cons of doing it this way.

If the purpose of the post is to write up a project proposal and the purpose of the comments is to provide feedback and constructive criticisms to students as to their proposal, then there might be 0-5 marks offered for the quality of the feedback over  three criteria ie research question, research method, quality of sources.

When students need to learn and practice public blogging and social media integration

Where you have journalism, communication, media or PR students, they really need to practice being media/comms professionals. They would benefit from getting up to speed with both public blogging and twitter use as communication channels. You could try what Dr. Ted Mitew (Arts) does in his “Convergent Media” class (BCM112 ie first year subject!). The students have to use Twitter “tweets” with links to material, and blog postings every week. This is called their “learning portfolio” and they submit a selection of their posts and tweets with reflective commentary twice during semester. The submission is done via the Assignment tool in the eLearning space ie formally. The students are also encouraged to share and learn from each others’ discoveries, so they use a twitter hashtag #bcm112, which creates a feed of the students links to their discovered resources. It also teaches them how to use hashtags and twitter properly for best social media practice. Essential comms skills for some professions!

Another great public/media assessment is to swap a group presentation for a group produced YouTube Video presentation/story (3-4mins). The students have to create a YouTube account, make a YouTube clip, upload it, post it to the blog. Then view other students videos and use the facebook “like” button  or a voting/poll tool to vote for their favourites. There can be  some  marks (maybe 5-10 marks for example) given in the assessment criteria that comes from how many votes they got. But you still might want the majority of marks coming from teacher’s mark or formal peer review using assessment criteria matrix.  See for a sample of a video competition in the blog.

I hope this is helfpul, and if you have any questions you can email me at Sarah Lambert –


Analytics Blogging Stats

Welcome back!

After reviewing our analytics for the last few weeks of summer we’ve had a nice split between student and staff blogs. Over the past month our blogs have had over 6500 views!
Our most viewed blog was the Student Life Blog and student life blogger, Angelique took the crown for the most viewed post where she investigates ‘Australianisms’ that are lost on foreigners (coarse language)
With the launch of Moodle this semester we’ve also had a number of people checking out the Moodle LAB Blog which is assisting staff with the transition from elearning to Moodle.

Our top ten sites for the month are:

Enjoy the first day back!

Happy blogging!