I have started analysing the student blogs for evidence of collaboration. At this point I have looked 39 - only 270 to go. This is a few hours work but it does go faster once I become more familiar with the analysis instrument.
I am using three different instruments to analysis the blogs. For this aspect - collaboration - I am using an instrument provided by my thesis advisor (Dr. Elizabeth Murphy), from a case study she did concerning collaboration in an on-line asynchronous discussion board. The title of the article is Recognizing and promoting collaboration in online asynchronous discussions. In this article she examines how students used a discussion board to collaborate in problem solving for their course.
Thus far, I am quite surprised at the range of items in the posts. Many are very simple posts stating how excited they are to be doing their e-portfolios. However, I am finding evidence of such items as summarizing their opinions of the course, seeking feedback on particular items and expressing motivation or more general feelings of blogging.
What I suspect will become clearer as I progress through the other 279 blogs is that they need to be directed in their blogging. We cannot simply leave them to try and blog and "see what happens". This was the approach that was recommended by some colleagues and one that I felt was appropriate at the time because I did not know much about blogging. Of course, the purpose of any study is to learn about the topic and so I believe that this view shall be one of many that I hope to draw from the study.
Murphy, E. (2004). Recognizing and promoting collaboration in online asynchronous discussions. British Journal of Educational Technology, 35(4), 421-431.