Student journals – some approaches (Claremont College 21 Apr 2009)

Online journal techniques for students to document their learning.


Students can take responsibility for documenting their own learning, and much of this can be documented in a digital form. Access at college and at home (and after leaving college) can extend the concept of learning beyond a classroom.

The approach of personal online journals could be useful.

Techniques for journalling


either “live” as in a weblog,  or saved from an application


  • use inbuilt Sound Recorder +microphone,
  • Audacity (free) + microphone
  • student mobile phone if it records audio
  • audio off video capture on many digital still cameras

photos and images

  • draw themselves (eg SumoPaint)
  • digital camera
  • stills from webcam
  • student phone images.


  • from cheap still camera
  • from webcam using MovieMaker (free)
  • From cheap video camera (eg Flip Video under $200)
  • from better-quality video camera (caution – big files are not good for web use!)

How to manage this:

Students and teacher each create a personal weblog (blog) on a service like

Depending on how much you want to manage it you can let them do this themselves or set them up yourself. (use the Gmail extended name trick if necessary eg

Make a list of links to the student blogs on your own blog, this acts as an index.


Tags vs categories. – it’s not obvious what the difference is at first, but perhaps the simplest approach is to sit down in advance and decide on the way you want to categorise, and use these as categories. Tags are decided more on the fly. I’d suggest that a common set of categories could be used by all students in one class (eg the dimensions of assessment)


Online safety is a huge issue. Main thing is to ensure ALL students (and staff 😉 ) are aware that personal information should not be disclosed. This includes, obviously, the blog name and other identifying materials.