The point of the literature review is to see a gap in the literature where further research is possible, or even requested. I have now completed seven reviews and see a couple of main points coming through.
A main consideration is that students can often find motivation from blogging to blog (if that makes sense) and that blogs are used for purposes decided by the student, and not by the instructor. In cases where the students are assigned blogging activities, they completed these activities but greater success is found when the activities direct students to reflect on their learning. One study noted that students need time to learn how to use the blogs and that individual purposes and motivation take time to develop. I think this is a result of the personal nature of blogs and the fact that due to the technical ability to personalise, and control the blog to a great degree not possible with discussion boards, students can turn the blog to their own purposes outside of what they wer originally asked to do.
Finding also indicate that if students are given time to write to their blogs it seems that they naturally gravitate towards a reflective type of entry which relies on input from other participants. This is an indication of the community building nature of blogs and the possibilities of allowing people to communicate through the blogs thorugh postings, comments, links, trackbacks and other features which I do not yet fully understand.
Reflecting on my students' blogs I think they almost instantly seized on the personalisation features and found this to nbe highly motivating. Students from this part of the world are highly visual and find success when they can relate to their studies and repsresent their work in a visual manner.
Here are the links to the latest two case studies that I have reviewed.
Fun, Rachel IP Kwai., Wagner, Christian (2005). An Exploratory Study on the Progress of Social Computing and Its Potential
Impact on Organizational Computing. http://www.pacis-net.org/file/2005/247.pdf Last Accessed 9, May. 2006.
I very much enjoyed this study because it investigated the technical feautres and how they impact on the use to which the blogs are put. This is a unique angle that I have not seen in any other case studies.
Dickey, Michele D. (2004) The impact of web-logs (blogs) on student perceptions of isolation and alienation in a web-based distance-learning environment. Open Learning, Vol. 19, No. 3, November 2004.
This one is not freely available on the internet - you need to access it through a subscriber database. It was very interesting as well because it loked at community building in a distance course. I think this would have been a great thing to do with my courses rather than the discussion board.