After sharing a few thoughts about Global2 and student blogging, I was asked about my experiences within the classroom. Here then are my reflections so far:
Collection of Learning: Blogging provides a means for students to publish to more than just the teacher, it allows them to share with a wider audience. This can include everything from text, images, videos and audio records. See Sue Waters description of what you can embed for more information. The audience for the blog depends upon what settings chosen during setup. Although I have mine set to the students within the blog, I am always reminded of Steve Wheeler’s argument that, “having a private blog is like going to a party with a paper bag over your head.”
Student Engagement: Not only does openly sharing work provide for a wider audience, it allows for a different sense of engagement. Whereas discussions are usually restricted, publishing to a blog provides a means of “broadening the perspective of the conversation with authentic audiences from around the world.” This is one of the points Alan November makes in his discussion of transformational learning.
Appreciation of Digital Media: Often when students compose writing they have little appreciation for context. Publishing texts digitally provides for an appreciation of the constructive and creative aspects of digital media. For example, what colours, images and theme is appropriate for the content of the blog?
Administration: One of the challenges with every digital medium is that they always require some sort of support. This can include resetting passwords, maintaining email accounts and setting up blogs. With limited class time, such administration can be a frustrating hurdle.
Expectations: The ability to check student’s posts before they are made live is both a strength and a weakness. It is fantastic, because it provides a level of security and safety for students, teachers and parents. However, in today’s day and age of social media and instant messaging, when you have not reviewed students work to check if it is appropriate to be published, they get annoyed quickly.
Silver Bullets: There is a danger of introducing technology as some sort of panacea and then being faced with the situation where you are left wondering why it did not work. Although technology enables new possibilities, it only ever “amplifies whatever pedagogical capacity is already there.”
Be Patient: One of the dangers when introducing any tool or strategy is that we expect dividends from the start. This is often not the case. One of the reasons for this is that they required certain habits to become ingrained, before their full potential can be met. In regards to technology, Gary Stager talks about it becoming boring so that we can use it to focus on the real issue, learning.
Start with Why: Before you introduce blogging into the classroom, you need to think about why you might be blogging. If you want students to interact with each other to provide feedback, then everyone writing a review on the same book or account on the same concept is not really going to work. Blogging is an ideal platform for the creativity and self expression. See for example Anthony Speranza’s use of a class blog to showcase student projects.
Tinker: Although you can read the posts I have shared or even Celia Coffa’s excellent unpacking, I think that the best way to learn about blogging is by tinkering. Start a personal blog. Explore, wonder, experiment.
So what about you, what are your experiences? What questions still remain? As always, questions welcome.