Best Tools for Student Reflective Journals – 2020

We have several tools which are ideal for student’s reflective work from discussion boards, to journals, from blogs to wikis. Read about them below to decide which tool is right for the needs of your assignment.

Discussion boards / conversations

Discussion boards on Blackboard can be an ideal way to have students interact with each other outside class. You can set them up directly in your module, and they also work well on mobile devices. However, these are more aimed at interaction between students, than personal reflections between student and staff.

Student Journals

You may wish a student to keep a personal, reflective learning journal. There are a number of ways to achieve this

Blackboard’s Journal Tool

This is the ideal solution if this journal is intended to be used for a single module with fewer than 50 total users (including all enrolled staff), and it will be graded. It’s also ideal if you’re more interested in students reflections, than their ability to present content visually.  Blackboard’s own Journal Tool is the most straightforward option since you can set it up directly in the module. However, this is currently a very limited tool.

OneNote Class Notebook

OneNote offers a ClassNote book option. This allows you to have a private area for each student, and a central point where students can contribute to content. It’s got a lot of flexibility, in terms of content students can add, content you can push to students, and they can use it off line. Although direct integration between Blackboard and OneNote is possible, this can be a bit tricky. Please contact Help4U and mention ‘FAO CTIL’  if you’re interested in pursuing OneNote Class Notebooks.

LearningSpaces

This is the ideal solution if the journal assignment is intended to be reflective over the course of multiple modules, and it will either not be graded, or be graded infrequently. We have a hosted installation of WordPress, LearningSpaces, that will allow you to request individual blogs for students. These can be set to be private to the student and tutor(s) if required. While this would be too complex to have one blog per student per module, if you would like to have students having a single reflective space for all their learning, this would enable it.

Class Wiki

If you would like to create a class based collaborative space, you could use the shared area of a OneNote ClassNotebook, or a Class Blog on LearningSpaces, using the Wiki plugin

Wikipedia

We have a small pilot project looking at supporting students to create and edit articles on Wikipedia.

Podcasting

If you want students to create podcasts, as well as being a video tool, Yuja also allows you to host podcasts. Some staff encourage students to use podcasts to add their reflections to a blog post; it allows students to decide if they prefer written or spoken reflections

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