Sunday, February 28, 2010

5.3.3: ePortfolios outside the wire

Article: Wang, S. (2009). E-portfolios for integrated reflection [Full text PDF]. Issues in Informaing Science and Information Technology (6), 449-460.

Wang (2009, p.449) starts by saying that "Currently, e-portfolios are viewed mostly as a tool of assessment and showcase, but less as a tool of active learning"; this is not the New Zealand experience as far as I am aware. Anyway, Wang proposes an ontological reflection model for ePortfolio use.

While it is disappointing to not see reference to the considerable work being done in the UK (and no reference to open source tools beyond, err, 'OSP'), Wang does make the connection between artefacts and learning objects and suggests a model linking course objectives to rubrics, rubrics to assessments... and, ultimately, student work to assessment outcomes. So far, so good - but next Wang describes an ePortfolio tool designed to facilitate the process of the model.

I have noticed this sort of thing before (see earlier comments on Swan): the development of a model followed by a highly structured application/solution that enables that model to be followed. This seems to be a US approach, as no UK or Australiasian literature I have seen (in published form - I have seen some review articles) attempts this. In the UK and Australasian contexts the trend seems to be toward tools that are much more open-ended and flexible.

The fatal flaw in Wang's work is really this phrase on p.457: "This paper recognizes a lack of applications of e-portfolios for integrated reflection beyond course-based teaching and assessment...". It is a pity that Wang did not read further afield, nor consider how reflection might be structured outside of the ePortfolio application itself. Structuring reflective activity using offline guides and questions can enhance the application of reflection within the ePortoflio environment; the two do not need to be integrated into the ePortfolio tool itself. Indeed, separating the brief from the tool enables the tool to be far more flexible than the case presented by Wang.

Hmmm... perhaps the fact that the study was "supported by" Chalk & Wire Learning Assessment Inc., who (perhaps coincidentally?) market the ePortfolio system Wang recommends, has something to do with the thrust of the paper...? What came first, the system or the model? At least with open source and flexible solutions such as Mahara, you need not constrain your use of an ePortfolio into a conceptual model that may actually be limited in scope.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

5.3.3: Trusted links for data - and the lifelong ePortfolio

Article: Kirkham, T., Winfield, S., Smallwood, A., Coolin, K., Wood, S., & Searchwell, L. (2009). Introducing live ePortoflios to support self organised learning [Full text PDF]. Educational Technology & Society 12(3), 107-114.

Kirkham et al (2009) give background on how ePortfolio systems might link with third party data providers once trusted links are established. The benefits of this are many:
  1. External data relevant to the user can be verified.
  2. User ePortfolios are updated dynamically by the agency storing the data.
  3. The ePortfolio becomes a real focal point for the user's abilities and certifications.
The case study provided reports on the TAS3 (Trusted Architecture for Securely Shared Services) project which, provided it is on track, will be complete by end 2011 (it is likely that it will be based on SAML 2.0). The project seeks to create a set of compliance standards that will permit agencies to share data in mutually trusted ways.

Why is this exciting?

Well, it is one thing to say that you have a Masters degree from the Open University on your ePortfolio and quite another to be able to portal your offical grades (as verified by the University's own student management system) into your ePortfolio view. Once a trusted architecture is available (and adopted), the vision of a verifiable ePortfolio for life is that much closer to fulfilment. Employers will be able to have the claims of an applicant's CV verified from the ePortfolio itself. Students will be able to see their latest grades and timetables from within their own ePortfolios. Employees can have their professional development activities automatically added to their ePortfolio from their institution's record-system.

Of course it is one thing to develop a trusted architecture, quite another for it to become a standard across the agencies whose data would add value to an ePortfolio. But the work of TAS3 is a vital opening step. Once we have an architecture, hopefully agency commitment will follow.

Monday, February 22, 2010

5.3.3: The netfolio and peer interaction

Article: Barbera, E. (2009). Mutual feedback in e-portfolio assessment: an approach to the netfolio system. British Journal of Educational Technology 40(2), 342-357.

Barbera (2009) provides an interesting study comparing the performance of two groups using ePortfolios: one in a classic, individualised sense (Group A n=15), the other using a 'netfolio' system that required peer review of ePortoflios (Group B n=16). The difference in performance between the two groups is considerable, with Group A students in the B to C grade range, Group B students in the A to B grade range.

The difference between Group A and B performance is ascribed to collaborative peer feedback that is formative in nature. However it is not a simple case of requiring peer feedback on ePortfolios to improve student performance. These results may or may not be transferable to other situations. Note the caveats that apply to this study:
  • All students were enrolled in PhD studies (and so were interdependent, highly motivated learners with high levels of expertise).
  • Group B required "more attention to the dynamic of the class and more complex grading on [the lecturer's] part" (2009, p.350).
  • There are hints in the article that Group B had to invest far more time in the course (even though students did not seem to mind this, based on the overall satisfaction they reported).
  • Peer review was a required aspect of assessment.
It would be interesting to see how transferable the principles of netfolio might be to other learning contexts, particularly given the nature of the learners themselves in this case. The obvious dedication and enthusiasm of the lecturer/researcher here is also relevant to the success of the exercise. The lecturer had to work harder, students had to work longer, the intervention was highly structured and the students were highly motivated. That said, the results from the peer netfolio exercise were clearly improved.

So, technology in this case leads to improved learning... but not on its own. The learning system here requires more energy however the learning outcomes more than justify it. The key for other practitioners is how to adapt the netfolio concept in ways that are realistic for students who are emerging as scholars - and ensuring that adequate learning time is allocated to the peer exchange.

5.3.4: Affordances of 3D learning environments

Article: Dalgarno, B., & Lee, M.J.W. (2010). What are the learning affordances of 3-D virtual environments? [Full text PDF] British Journal of Educational Technology 41(1), 10-32.

As I read this article (which is the subject of a Webinar this afternoon NZT through ascilite), something occured to me: of course 3-D environments have a critical contribution to make to formal education. However, as with most techological interventions, it is not a comprehensive contribution. The five affordances proposed by Dalgarno & Lee make this point implicitly.

After a very useful discussion about immersion and presence, the authors present their affordances:
  1. 3-D VLEs can be used to facilitate learning tasks that lead to the development of enhanced spatial knowledge representation of the explored domain.
  2. 3-D VLEs can be used to facilitate experiential learning tasks that would be impractical or impossible to undertake in the real world.
  3. 3-D VLEs can be used to facilitate learning tasks that lead to increased intrinsic motivation and engagement.
  4. 3-D VLEs can be used to facilitate learning tasks that lead to improved transfer of knowledge and skills to real situations through contextualisation of learning.
  5. 3-D VLEs can be used to facilitate tasks that lead to richer and/or more effective collaborative learning than is possible with 2-D alternatives.
These are all well and good (I particularly like the honest use of the word 'can') - however there is much left unsaid that helps to further legitimise (and contextualise) these affordances. Firstly, not all of these advantages apply to everything that is taught in higher education. Take philosophy, for example - 'spatial knowledge representation of the explored domain', facilitating 'experiential learning tasks' and applying 'transfer of knowledge and skills to real situations through contextualisation' are, well, not directly relevant. Even 'increased intrinsic motivation and engagement' and 'more effective collaborative learning' are questionable affordances for this type of subject. Here, then, is my point - the affordances are not comprehensive or universally applicable. They are inherent in the technology only insofar as the subject area itself stands to benefit from them.

The examples cited by Dalgarno & Lee illustrate my point above. In support of affordance 5, they cite a study by Jarmon, Traphagan and Mayrath (2008), who:
tell of how students in a graduate-level communication course work together and in collaboration with architecture students at the same university. The communication and architecture students are tasked with creating a virtual presence in SL of two green, sustainable, urban housing designs, that are later physically implemented in a low-income neighbourhood in Austin, Texas. Successful completion of the course assignments and projects is contingent on the students in both disciplines interacting extensively with educational and non-academic participants, both in real life and in the 3-D virtual world. Positive interdependence is also evident in that the communication students are reliant upon the domain knowledge and expertise of the architects, and vice versa (2010, pp.22-23).
Now, that just makes sense. I wonder the extent to which this example also applies to more abstract or theoretical collaboration, where there may be only a concpetual outcome. After all, this is what much of formal education is concerned with.

Lest my perspective here be misconstrued, I see an exciting future for 3D learning environments - and, as an aside, for m-learning - but it is vital that we place these technologies in the context of teaching and learning outcomes, and not try to hawk them as complete solutions that ought to be applied in all educational circumstances. Yes, there are real affordances. But there are also real contexts in which they apply.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

5.3.3: Ministry document, "Celebrating Learning"

I've been a bit remiss on this one... the Ministry of Education report, "ePortfolios - Celebrating learning" was released in August 2009. It is a report that reveals much about central support for ePortfolios in New Zealand, and is rather outstanding for its clarity and, well, good sense.

The report also reveals the challenges of implementing a single ePortfolio solution across an entire formal education sector, from Primary through tertiary. I think the report makes very sound recommendations, based on its analysis of needs and existing practice. Essentially, the recommendations are:
  1. That LEAP2A be adopted as an interoperability standard (Mahara is LEAP2A compliant).
  2. An open source, LEAP2A ePortfolio option be centrally provided (though not mandated).
One interesting finding of the report is that Primary users have specific needs, needs that powerful tools such as Mahara do not cater for... all a 5 year old should be required to do is upload a digital photo of his or her latest painting for the family, not manage views or take responsibility for an individual account! So, on a national basis, it makes great sense to adopt a standard rather than an application.

The report is also an excellent introduction to ePortfolio practice, making various suggestions for practitioners. Cosnider this list of what to consider when getting started with ePortfolios:
  1. Purpose.
  2. Ownership.
  3. 'Duty of care'.
  4. Teacher capability.
  5. Time.
The report also suggests that "Simplicity is a good thing to remember. Start 'small' but think 'big'" (p.17). Nice. Based on the reports own recommendations there is one additional factor to consider when getting started with ePortfolios:
  • Application features (particularly LEAP2A compliance).
This report is a strong indication that informed high-level discussions are taking place on how ePortfolios might be best considered in a lifelong context.

1.1.2: Compulsory 101 for e-learning thinkers

Article: Njenga, J.K, & Fourie, L.C.H. (2010). The myths about e-learning in higher education. British Journal of Educational Technology 41(2), 199-212.

This sort of article always draws my eye - exposure of 'myths' involves the sort of self-criticism that I think e-learning thinking benefits from. The authors suggest that e-learning can only benefit from "a dose of techno-negativity or techno-scepticism... so that the gap between rhetoric in the literature (with all the promises) and actual implementation can be bridged for an informed stance towards e-learning adoption" (p.199). Here's their list:
  1. e-Learning is a saviour; its redemptive power is overreaching and every educational institution should adopt it.
  2. e-Learning can replace human interaction.
  3. e-Learning cuts the costs of education, for instance, e-learning courses are cheaper to deliver than the traditional face-to-face or distance learning.
  4. Providing numerous courses and an abundance of information is beneficial, and can enhance learning.
  5. ICTs should become the primary medium of learning in higher education.
  6. Leisure (including playing and entertainment) and learning are separate activities.
  7. e-Learning will make HEIs more competitive and they must seize it or be declared institutionally redundant.
  8. Establishing the infrastructure (hardware and software) in e-learning is the most difficult part .
  9. e-Learning will see the demise of traditional campuses.
  10. e-Learning can decrease absenteeism and lower dropout rates among students.
No real surprises here, I guess - and only 6 is really questionable (and not just because Prensky is the reference!) It is probably just overstated. Other than that, many of the items on the list remind me of bold claims being made in the early days of Web-base e-learning.

Of course we should not err on the side of dismissiveness. Online access enhances informal learning, providing access to a huge set of text, multimedia and collegial resources; done well, it can refocus instructional development, improve student access to education, provide flexible study pathways, and can even prove better than alternative educational experiences (depending on how its done). Our positive claims become questionable when we project value on to the technology itself, rather than the means by which it is applied.

Monday, February 15, 2010

5.3.3: ePortfolios coming of age - and a bit on Mahara...

Article: Waters, J.K. (2009). E-portfolios come of age (full text). T H E Journal 36(10), 24-29.

Waters (2009) talks of how ePortfolio tools are coming of age as applications in their own right - no longer as appendages to learning management systems even though SSO (Single Sign On) with LMSs is now standard. The reason for ePortfolios coming into their own is largely because of the predominance of Web 2.0 flexibility, which ePortfolios must both imitate Web 2.0 flexibility and also integrate Web 2.0 presences.

Actually, there is one mistake in the article (printed twice); Moodle was not the inspiration for Mahara. We started with a clean slate, inspired by the potential for a flexible and open source ePortfolio system - and drawing on our dismal impression of the various proprietary tools we had experienced (some of which are listed in Waters' article). Only one member of our steering committee was deeply involved with Moodle, and I was the only other member on the steering committee with administrative Moodle experience. The Moodle connection comes in with Catalyst, the Moodle partners who developed Mahara to our specification - and its strong links with Moodle are further reinforced by the fact that Moodle is widely adopted in New Zealand, where Mahara was proudly forged! An early SSO integration with Moodle was therefore a priority for the developers.

In addition to mentioning Mahara as an application illustrating this coming of age, Waters lists Epsilen (see overview), Angel Learning, and (intro video)... and Google (in the form of mash-ups). However, in my view, until Google 'mash-up' can provide a feature such as Mahara's views it will not be a viable alternative to a user-controlled ePortfolio (see workflow). The full openness of a Google solution would be its greatest weakness.

5.3.3: The prime directives for an ePortfolio

Link: Tolley, R.J. (2008). The prime directives for an ePortfolio.

The past few posts on this blog have benefitted from the comments of Ray Tolley, whose work I link to here. Ray's ten 'prime directives' resonate strongly with me - and, oddly(?) enough, they are reflected in the design brief we gave for the development of Mahara. As we consider how ePortfolios might thrive outside of the classroom, criteria such as Ray's will no doubt be discussed more widely.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

5.3.3: ePortfolios and what we need to know

Article: Yancey, K.B. (2009). Electronic portfolios a decade into the twenty-first century: What we know, what we need to know. Peer Review 11(1), 28-32.

Yancey's (2009) brief article is, in some ways, disappointing - it does not draw deeply from the vast literature on ePortfolios, instead opting to treat the book Electronic Portfolios 2.0 as its major source. Now, I have only read the first book the author was involved with, called Electronic portfolios, so I cannot comment on the worth of the 2.0 version. But this article does not fully deliver what it's title promises, and it is disappointing not to see some of the very valuable UK-based research directly cited (this despite the author's own admission that "our knowledge-base is both wide and culturally complex", p.32). Anyway, there is still ample value in the article!

Among Yancey's (2009) what we know's:
  • Student engagement is a critical aspect of ePortoflio development
  • Student engagement is, in part, a result of students having control over their ePortfolios and not having to work too much in a prescripted environment
  • Students using ePortfolios tend to perform better than those who do not (though the possibility that this is because only more successful students would tend to use them is not acknowledged)
  • The choice of ePortfolio platform is important; "the ways the technology is programmatically formative" (p.29) should be considered.
  • Reflection across courses - 'meta-reflection' is a good (my) term for it - is proving highly valuable. Typically assignments require students to reflect on what they have learned within each course; ePortfolios broaden the scope of reflection, enabling "a shift from discrete courses to a larger frame of reference" (2009, p.30).
  • A Skills Matrix (like a table that students populate with artefacts to demonstrate their attainment of various skills) can help to guide meta-reflection.
  • Reflection is a valuable exercise encouraged by the effective use of ePortfolios; the process is more important than the outcome. Yancey (p.32) notes that "Many colleges and universities... found that helping students develop a 'capability to reflect' is a critical educational outcome, in and of itself".
What we need to know:
  • The influence on ePortfolio tools to student outcome.
  • The nature of reflection in the development of ePortfolios.
Not a bad list - but far from comprehensive. I do agree wholeheartedly though that the 'What we need to know' areas are very rich ones for further research, particularly the latter one on reflection. The first, relating to ePortolio tools, is also important - but I think the current case study research speaks for itself on the matter of tool choice (see previous comments relating to Swan's article).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

5.3.3: Key findings from Swan (2009)

Article: Swan, G. (2009). Examining barriers in faculty adoption of an e-portfolio system (full text). Australasian Journal of Educational Technology 25(5), 627-644.

Swan (2009) reports on an 'exploratory implementation' of ePortfolios in a teacher education programme. ePortfolios were used in particular for student placement reflections and evaluations.

Swan performed in-depth interviews with faculty and university supervisors for some insight into their experiences (n=15) as evaluators of ePortfolios. Interviews took between 45 and 75 minutes.

Key findings:
  • Faculty tended to rely on their existing means of evaluating students. Student ePortfolios provided additional insight into student experiences. Faculty were used to reviewing the reports of cooperating teachers and were content with the feedback on those reports, so seldom made use of the additional information available in student ePortfolios. They also felt tha they knew their students well enough to not need to consult the eportfolios. Those supervising larger numbers of students werre more likely to make use of the student reports in their ePortfolios.
  • Supervisors liked the data storage capability of the ePortfolio. The fact that all information was availle through the same paperless interface was perceived as a plus.
  • Providing feedback to students through the ePortfolio system was perceived as 'redundant'. Supervisors met with their students on a regular basis anyway, so they did not se the point of repeating themselves when giving written feedback on the ePortfolio.
  • Accreditation (final marking) can be messy. Respondents indicated that they found the final marking (or 'accreditation') of the ePortfolio difficult, because information was so spread and marking is often left to the last moment. I suspect that the problem in this case was to do with the ePortfolio platform itself (Open Portfolio) and the requirements of the accrediting body.
Swan (2009) concludes with the observation that, in his case, "the culture of assessment in this research setting is far from ideal for meeting the loftier goals of an e-portfolio system" - a vital lesson from the 'coal face'. Conversations, it seems, be centred on assessment systems, practice and aspirations rather than 'which tool should we use' or 'which course should we try it on'. Swan (2009) talks in terms of gaining faculty 'consensus' (a common theme in ePortfolio literature), and 'centrifugal force' surrounding implementation. As Swan hinted at earlier (see previous post), implementation involves challenge:
It may be that project leadership must not shy away from conflict and possibly be courageous enough to actually initiate and see it through to resolution.
This certainly resonates with experience! There are a number of implicit lessons from Swan's work:
  • Take systematic change seriously. It is not enough to add an ePortfolio into a workflow; it must be embedded within systems. This, of course, requires change management, intensive conversation and negotiation, listening, changing...
  • Choose the tool carefully. I have not examined the Open Portfolio tool, but from the article screenshots it looks highly customised. This can be problematic, as highly customised tools lack flexibility and can serve to reinforce older systems rather than provide opportunity for new ones.
  • Understanding faculty workflows is vital. After all, it is faculty who will ultimately determine the effectiveness of implementation. If all an ePortfolio does is add an optional extra to their responsibilities, it is no surprise that they may not use it at all. On the other hand, an effective and smooth-flowing system that saves time and improves their ability to interact with students' ideas is likely to achieve its own success.
  • Get students to create their own final submissions. Swan (2009) found that student information tended to be difficult to compile when needed for accreditation; why not get stduents to do this themselves, according to clear guidelines? The problem Swan encountered may be to do with the constraints of a highly customised system however transferring aggregating work to the stduent seems a very clear and valuable exercise - both for faculty, and for the students themselves. It seems Swan is working on further customising the ePortfolio platform to permit better summaries of data... (see second bullet above).
A very useful article, with some very important lessons for implementing ePortfolios at a programme level. In the days ahead I hope to draw additional ePortoflio-related lessons from literature together.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

5.3.3: ePortfolios: More research needed at the coal face

Article: Swan, G. (2009). Examining barriers in faculty adoption of an e-portfolio system (full text). Australasian Journal of Educational Technology 25(5), 627-644.

I'm beginning a focus on e-portfolios, because I have a keynote to present in late April and I need to get back in touch with the literature!

Swan (2009) reports on the implementation of an e-portfolio system in a teacher preparation programme in Kentucky. Swan (2009, p.629) begins with the need for more work in the area of "the schisms created by the intersection of faculty practice and system design"... in other words, more work is needed on how ePortfolios might be effectively integrated within the systems and structures of academic programmes, and the faculty responsible for them. Institutional studies, Swan suggests, are numerous... but there are not many "at the user-utility, program assessment level" (ibid.) How do we effectively operationalise ePortfolios within programmes of study?

Swan answers the question of effective operationalisation with reference to:
  1. the emergent perspective, that is, from the understanding that the interface between people and technologies is symbiotic and unpredictable; and
  2. interaction resistance theory, which holds that the differences between "designer intention and user perception cause implementation problems" (2009, p.629).
So, the greater the change, the more implicit resistance to that change and the more potential there is for problems. Swan (2009, p.670) rightly observes that "Adaptation is necessary by both the developer of the system and the members of the organisation to facilitate adoption... a high level of conflict management is crucial to achieve success" (ibid.)

Swan provides an excellent platform for further studies in ePortfolio implementation/operationalisation at the user-level. His introduction of the emergent perspective and interaction resistance theory ring true to my own work in institutional change and development in e-learning where leadership, conversation and improvement (I was going to write 'compromise' as the result of conversation, but in fact it is ultimately improvement) form a tri-unity of absolute importance.

More on the findings of Swan's study tomorrow...

Monday, February 8, 2010

5.1.1: The realities of Web 2.0

Source: Boyd, D. (2009). "Streams of Content, Limited Attention: The Flow of Information through Social Media" Web2.0 Expo. New York, NY: November 17.

A good, honest and interesting look at the phenomenon of Web 2.0. The "Four Core Issues" are very thought-provoking in terms of calls for Education 2.0!

This quote seems a useful (part) mission statement for higher education:
...the tools that consumers need are those that allow them to get into flow, that allow them to live inside information structures wherever they are, whatever they're doing. The tools that allow them to easily grab what they need and stay peripherally aware without feeling overwhelmed.
Now, I'm not sure of the 'grab what they need' part, but I like the 'getting them into flow' (citing Csikszentmihalyi) - and the 'staying peripherally aware without feeling overwhelmed' neatly describes my own appreciation of e-learning (even having completed the e-primers). Reading between the lines (and even on them), this article provokes serious challenge to those suggesting an egalitarian, open and networked Education 2.0.

5.3.2: Student behaviour in wikis

Article: Meishar-Tal, H., and Gorsky, P. (2010). Wikis: what students do and do not do when writing collaboratively. Open Learning 25(1), 25-35.

The article describes the editing behaviour of n=60 graduate students required to contribute to a wiki containing course concepts. The article demonstrates good practice in wiki design:
  • A compulsory task
  • A clear objective (building a glossary of key terms)
  • Beginning with an existing set of definitions
  • Recognition of the complexity of the task
  • Specific instructions.
The article cites previous findings indicating that students have a reluctance to edit one another's work or even to criticise; one study reported that a completed collaborative wiki resembled a threaded discussion "that lacked integration and unity" more than a polished document.

The authors constructed a taxonomy of actions that would be useful for further studies into categorising wiki use by students. All 60 students edited the wiki, with 2986 editorial changes made. The most common activity was adding sentences: "Additions occurred three times more than deletions and 4.3 times more than moving entire sentences" (p.31). However, findings indicated an uneven level of activity:
  • About two-thirds of all sentence deletions were carried out by two students.
  • 33% of all grammatical changes were made by one student.
  • One student carried out 478 of the total editorial actions (16% of the total).
  • About 10% of students were "extremely dominant" (p.32) in the activity.
These dominant students are further described:
The dominant students were ‘specialists’ who created near ‘monopolies’ on certain kinds of editorial actions: one ‘mover’, two ‘deleters’, one ‘stylist’ as well as one student who served as ‘formatter’ and ‘linker’. These roles and behaviours were assumed without any direct instruction, apparently quite spontaneously.
The authors suggest that editing behaviour might be correlated with student traits... far more interesting to me is how they graded the exercise, and whether the 'dominance' of some students served to alienate their peers and shape the overall outcome so that it was, perhaps, less representative of the class. It is interesting to note that these findings relate to graduate students... I wonder how editorial behaviour might change among undergraduate students?

A very interesting study... it's great to see some primary analysis. However the findings are, for me, a bit disturbing. Participation was far from equal... was the outcome, then, far from optimal? Might a better level of student activity resulted had the assignment required students to prepare (say) a set of short-answer definitions individually, marked by the lecturer and returned with individualised feedback?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

5.1.3, 5.3.1: The non-bloggin' generation

A recent Pew Internet Project report, "Social Media and Young Adults" (PDF), examines how those in the teens and early adulthood years (18 to 29) interact with technology. One of the interesting finds: blogs are not a high-use, highly interactive medium for young people. Bloggers in the age group went from 24% in 2007 to just 15% in 2009. Among adults, well, about 11% of users over 30 maintain a blog (the "Are blogs for old people?" news item cites the Pew report). The attention of young people is shifting to social networking. Twitter, the report found, has a 37% use among online users aged 18-24, 25% use among those 25-29, and 22% use among those aged 30-49; 19% of all online adults use Twitter. Virtual worlds (it is not clear if this statistic includes virtual worlds such as World of Warcraft) are used by about 4% of online users.

The report contains lots of useful information relating to internet uptake and connectivity, gadget ownership (cell phones, computers, mp3 players, gaming devices) and overall trends in internet use. I found this take on ReadWriteWeb thought-provoking:
But blogging? Passé, says the report. The medium once used for sharing either news and/or personal thoughts and feelings is no longer popular among teens. The why is simple: Facebook. With the ability to update your status on social networking sites, the need to communicate using long-form mechanisms like sentences and - ugh! - paragraphs is no longer necessary. Instead of summarizing a day's events via blog post for example, a teen may simply update Facebook multiple times throughout the day with the details as to what's happening in their life at the moment...
Longer forms of communication are being sacrificed for smaller, more convenient, bite-sized pieces. What will this mean for a generation already struggling with general literacy? I think the "young people are using it so we should" argument starts to rapidly fall down here... the genre of use for social networking is immediate, brief, and more descriptive than reflective.