LiveJournal: http://www.livejournal.com

Introduction and Description:


LiveJournal is an online blogging site that combines the community feel of Facebook with the ability to journal in an online format. It has several levels of membership including the “Basic” and “Plus” accounts, which are free to all subscribers; as well as “Paid” accounts which have some enhanced features. LiveJournal applies aspects of social networking sites: such as communities linked by theme, interest, location, school, etc., the ability to instant message, as well as the ability to post entries using mobile technology such as an iPhone with a personal blog page. One of the aspects which differentiates LiveJournal from other “open to everyone” blog services is that it allows individuals to “friend” other members, select and restrict who views and comments on their blog, as well as who can join their “community.” This ability to restrict viewing and membership facilitates a level of privacy that is not found on other free blogging sites. The platform of LiveJournal is easy to navigate, and the terms such as “friending” are easy to understand. In all, LiveJournal is an online journaling site that is user friendly, easy to customize, and allows for personal reflection, online discussions, and community membership.
In terms of educational use, LiveJournal can provide a forum for students to reflect upon their own learning, practice writing skills, gain feedback from others in the form of commentary, as well as comment on the journals of other individuals. However, there is not the level of teacher control that is found on sites such as Edmodo or Moodle, so it would probably be better suited to adult learners.

Educational Uses:

  • Personal Reflection on Learning Experiences: LiveJournal allows students to reflect and write about their learning experiences and have other students comment on their postings.

  • Community Building: Since blogs can be associated with various communities associated around a theme, topic, school, class, or other activity, students can read the opinions and writings of others with similar interests.

  • Communication and Collaboration: LiveJournal allows students to discuss and debate the topics covered in the blog, as well as joining communities of individuals with common interests. The instant messenger function would allow students working on projects to communicate in real-time without having to be in the same location. In addition, students from different schools, states, or even countries can participate in these discussions via commentary or instant messenger.

  • Audio Posting: LiveJournal allows for the posting of audio clips via cell phone. This could be used in a World Language class to help students improve their speaking skills or to have students practice transcribing spoken material. Also, it would allow students with writing impairments or other learning disabilities to participate in class activities.

Learning Objectives with LiveJournal:


LiveJournal could easily be used in a course that is composed of adult learners. In an Introduction to Psychology Course, LiveJournal could be used to facilitate discussion of certain “controversial” topics in psychology; such as the debate between the contributions of nature versus nurture in personality development.
Sample Objective:
Using their personal blogs on LiveJournal, learners will explain and support their position on the nature/nurture debate by creating a blog entry supporting EITHER the nature or nurture side of the debate, supported by evidence from their textbook, peer-reviewed journals, and research studies. (Graded via Rubric)

Benefits:

  • Access to LiveJournal is free.
  • The LiveJournal format is very user friendly and easy to navigate; with “help” easily accessible and understandable.
  • LiveJournal allows the user to customize the page easily using preset themes.
  • Users can select who is able to view their online journal using a “friend” function which is similar to that of Facebook.
  • Users can search, select, and become a member of various communities that exist on LiveJournal.
  • LiveJournal allows you to post to your blog in several ways including
    • Mobile Posting: from a Phone, Smartphone, or PDA
    • Voice Posting: Post audio clips, it also allows for transcription on posting by user or friends
    • Txt LJ: Interact and post via text message
    • LJ Talk: and Instant Messaging service found on LiveJournal
  • LiveJournal allows for screening of comments by the journal “owner.”
  • Users can “tag” their postings at the time of creation, as well as describe their “mood” at the time of the posting.

Challenges:

  • Educators may see LiveJournal as a hybrid of a blog and Facebook, which can create potential for inappropriate activity or as a distraction.
  • LiveJournal is open to the public and students can “friend” individuals outside the class, as well as access journals with questionable content.
  • LiveJournal has an instant messenger function, which may prove to be a distraction to students.
  • Since LiveJournal is open to the public, parents may be concerned with student safety or exposure to inappropriate content or bullying.
  • Unless the Blog is created as a “Community”, the teacher cannot screen comments, only the poster has that ability.
  • The format, abilities, and content of LiveJournal would not easily be used in the elementary and middle school because of safety and/or content concerns.
  • Advertisement videos appear when navigating between certain functions of LiveJournal and adware software did pick up some items to be removed after using the site.
  • LiveJournal requires an email account to activate.

Conclusion:

LiveJournal is a free online journaling (blogging) site that combines some of the features and vocabulary of social networking with a traditional blogging site. It can be used in many different ways to encourage learners to evaluate and reflect on their own learning and ideas, as well as discuss, debate, and respond to the writings of others. Through the instant messaging feature, it allows individuals to discuss and/or collaborate on assignments in real time. The “friending” aspect of LiveJournal can provide a level of privacy for learning communities that does not exist on other online journaling sites. In addition, LiveJournal is constantly updating, and actively looks for suggestions from users. The one cautionary factor is that students can “friend” outside the class community, which makes it a tool that would be best suited to the adult learner because of safety and/or content issues.

Contributed by: Caroline Watters