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Thursday, 5 September 2013

Critical Review

O. Kitchakarn (2012). Using Blogs to Improve Students’ Summary Writing Abilities. Bangkok University Language Institute: Bangkok.

The advancement of internet and social media has increased rapidly from year to year. Blog as one of the social media has been popular and used by million internet users. As one of a social media, blog gives a chance to more internet users from all around the country to criticize the posting published by the bloggers (Xie, Ke, and Sharma, 2007). This kind of feedback is considered to be able enhancing the students’ motivation in improving their writing skill.

In every field of study, the students need to read some sources and make the summary. Some students face difficulties when they have to write summary for their assignment. In Kitchakarn’s paper, the difficulties can be both from the students themselves who are lack of writing skill and the teachers who do not have interesting method in stimulating the students to produce the summary. Using blogs is one of the ways which is believed to be effective to solve the problem.


The writer elaborates about how blogs can be used to improve students’ summary writing abilities by explaining some important aspects in blogs. There are three types of blogs which can be implemented in teaching writing: tutor blog, learner blog, and class blog. Every kind of blog has different contents and function. Somehow all of them will be useful for both teachers and students in reaching their writing goal.

Blog advantages in language learning are also mentioned by the writer. There are many advantages of blogs such as giving a chance for the students to write outside the classroom, the feedback which will be given by other students who visit the blog, blogging can save students’ and teacher’s time. Blogs also offer more restful atmosphere for shy and less-confident students. Considering those advantages, the writer deems blog as an effective tool for students in improving their writing. More than that, blogs even can encourage students to be more critical thinking because the feedback to their writing does not only come from the teacher and the students in the same classroom, but also from global audience with different background of study.

To prove that blog can be a good tool to improve students’ writing, the writer did a research by giving summary writing tests, questionnaire, and the posting of the students in blog which is posted via blogger.com blog platform. The writer decided a textbook American English File 3 to be summarized into 3 – 5 sentences and asked the students to form a group. The comments which are becoming feedback from the other students and the teacher have been a good stimulation for them to improve their writing. By using this method, the students also can work more cooperative each other.

The writer’s idea to use blogger.com as the primary blog platform is brilliant because this platform is one of the most blogger platform used by bloggers around the world. Somehow, it is advisable to give more options to the students to use more blog platform such as wordpress, tumblr, livejournal, blog.com and many others. This consideration can be implemented in the research because every blog platform has different tools which can help the student to do their writings. Every student is also possible to have different interest toward the kinds of blog platforms.

Besides explaining the types of blog, the writer should also have explained about some chosen-blog platforms in her paper. The writer can make comparison among the blog platforms. For example, blogger.com is free, has 1 gigabyte storage, very limited plugins but is automatic updating; on the other hand, wordpress has more gigabyte storage, more free plugins, but the update is manual (Wallagher, 2013). By giving the comparison to the chosen-blog platforms, the students will have wider description about the blog that they will choose to post their writing.

In her paper, the writer mentions that there are two students who make a complaint for not having their own computer in the dormitory. This actually can be a serious difficulty when other teachers from another area such as Indonesia, especially Pontianak would like to use blogs as the tool to teach writing. Even though nowadays laptop or personal computer has become a must-have facility for many students, but in fact not all college students can afford to have it.

The need of internet access also definitely becomes another big issue. The writer did the research in her environment where the internet access is not a problem. On the other hand, this is the fact that not all area has good internet access; even some don’t have at all. When it is available, sometimes the students will need more cost to provide it. Doing the writing can’t be versatile anymore due to the absence of internet access.

Wrapping it up into a conclusion, Kitchakarn’s paper is still very useful and helpful for teachers to improve their students in writing. It’s comprehensible why the writer considers blogs as effective tools to improve students’ ability in writing summary. The advantage of blogs for teacher and students is one of the main reasons for it to be the effective tools. The difficulty of gaining the computer as the main facility and the access to the internet to some students, somehow, remains as the issues which are solvable.

Overall, using blogs to improve students’ summary writing is applicable with some requirements and conditions. First, the teacher has to make sure that all the students in the classroom have a personal computer or laptop, or at least can initiate to borrow it from others. Second, the area where the blogs method will be implemented must be full of internet access. After these two things are fulfilled, the teachers may consider to use this method to improve the student’s writing performance.


References:

Y. Xie, F. Ke, P. Sharma (2007). The effect of peer feedback for blogging on college students' reflective learning processes. Journal of Internet and Higher Education 11. Retrieved August 31, 2013 <http://mrwattsclass.pbworks.com/f/Blogging+reflection.pdf>.


Wallagher, Mike. "Blog Platform Comparison Chart." Web log post. How To Start A Blog. N.p., 04 June 2013. Web. Retrieved 05 Sept. 2013. <http://startbloggingonline.com/blog-platform-comparison-chart/>.

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