The Handbook for Economics Lecturers

Learning logs are diaries students keep that record their reflections about what they are learning and how they are going about learning it. Learning logs are useful because they promote reflective learning. They are also useful tools for educators because they can reveal students' perceptions (and misperceptions) of the information, as well as reveal how they are reacting to the way the material is being taught.

Learning logs can be considered identical to individual blogs (whilst group or common blogs are similar to wikis, discussed in the previous section). Learning logs/blogs can be easily created and integrated in the university’s VLE or created and administrated in an external website, much like wikis. Again, most institutions tend to prefer to host the learning logs internally as it makes access control simpler and data management more straightforward.

An example of a Learning Log is shown in Figure 17.

Figure 17: Example of a learning log

Students respond best to learning log activities when provided with some structure. For example, the lecturer can provide a set of ‘guiding questions’ that students can select from and respond to on a regular basis. Learning logs with prompts can guide students by asking questions which in turn will help students to activate background knowledge, i.e., to bring to mind and state, write down or otherwise record what they know. For this reason, learning logs can be an effective tool to promote continuous and reflective learning. An example of an entry in a learning log is presented in Figure 18.

Figure 18: Example of an entry in a learning log

Learning logs (and blogs) share the same disadvantages with wikis. However, as learning logs are individual by nature, the amount of work required of the lecturer is even larger here, especially if learning logs are to be used in summative assessment – although one strategy might be to ask students to create a small portfolio of their posts. As mentioned above, for best results the lecturer should regularly prompt students by adding new questions and comment on individual students’ entries which will logically be higher in number for learning logs than wikis.

Finally, there is the question of the degree of openness of these websites: should they be open to all others in the class or open only to the lecturer and student? There are potential benefits to some degree of accessibility but whether they are used formatively or summatively may be an essential consideration.