Examples from a June 2012 webcast

The Concept

EnquiryBlogger extends WordPress, the world’s most popular open source content management system and blogging platform, with a set of plugins that turn it into a particular flavour of social learning journal.

It is an example of Dispositional Learning Analytics (also referred to by Schneider, et al. 2012 as Learning Process Analytics). EnquiryBlogger is a collaboration between the Open University’s Knowledge Media Institute (Simon Buckingham Shum & Rebecca Ferguson), and University of Bristol’s Centre for Systems Learning & Leadership (Ruth Deakin Crick).

What does it do?

For Learners (e.g. school and university students, workplace staff) EnquiryBlogger adds three learner plugins to a WordPress blog, giving visual feedback on how many times blog posts have been categorized by a learner using the seven dimensions of “Learning Power” [1], progress against the core activities of Authentic Enquiry [2], and a visual ‘mood graph’ showing the peaks and troughs of how the learner feels about their work. The plugins are also used to navigate quickly to those posts, by clicking on the coloured blobs.

For Teachers/Mentors there are three dashboard widgets displaying all learners’ plugins in their group, and an additional EnquiryBlogBuilder plugin for batch generating blogs for a whole cohort. The cohort can quickly visit each others’ blogs for commenting through auto-generated links in their blogs.

This user guide for educators introduces the functionality of the system as of May 2012: EnquiryBlogger_QuickStart_May2012.pdf

To know more…

Design Process: A pilot project in enquiry was run in July 2010 to clarify requirements for the project, and this blog post updates an authentic enquiry workshop trialling the first release.

Status: As of May 2012 it has been through two significant pilots in UK schools (secondary and primary), and at Masters level, and is about to scale up to hundreds of blogs [3].

Reading: Over a decade’s educational research underpins the concepts of Learning Power and Authentic Enquiry:

[1] Buckingham Shum, S. and Deakin Crick, R. (2012). Learning Dispositions and Transferable Competencies: Pedagogy, Modelling and Learning Analytics. Proceedings 2nd International Conference on Learning Analytics & Knowledge, 29 Apr – 02 May 2012, Vancouver, British Columbia, CA. ACM Press: New York. Eprint: http://oro.open.ac.uk/32823

[2] Deakin Crick, R. Inquiry-based learning: reconciling the personal with the public in a democratic and archaeological pedagogy. Curriculum Journal, 20, 1, (2009), 73-92. DOI: 10.1080/09585170902764021.

[3] Ferguson, R., Buckingham Shum, S. and Deakin Crick, R. (2011). EnquiryBlogger – Using widgets to support awareness and reflection in a PLE setting. In W. Reinhardt, & T. D. Ullmann (Eds.), 1st Workshop on Awareness and Reflection in Personal Learning Environments, PLE 2011 Conference, UK. Eprint: http://oro.open.ac.uk/30598

How to get EnquiryBlogger

It’s free, it’s open source, and it’s right here as a set of WordPress plugins! We run the “Multi-User” mode, enabling the automatic generation and administration of many blogs as a group.

You will need to be a system administrator able to install WordPress Multi-User, plus the plugins — see the documentation. If you would like the Open University’s Knowledge Media Institute to host your private (non-commercial) installation, then contact Simon Buckingham Shum to discuss a collaborative research project: s.buckingham.shum [usual sign] gmail.com


EnquiryBlogger was funded by the national Learning Futures programme in 2010-2011. That initial project ended in Sept 2011 with the release of v1 of the software, and is now continuing with support from the OpenU and Bristol.

We gratefully acknowledge the outstanding software development job done by Geoff Austin of CodeJuggler [geoff.austin at codejuggler.com]