Educational use of blogs

When I think of integrating technology or new media into teaching, I ask myself “Does the new media facilitate learning that would be more difficult or impossible without the technology?  In reading an article by Stephen Downes entitled Educational Blogging, I found some answers to this question.  A 5th grade student writes, “Blogging is an opportunity to exchange our point of view with the rest of the world not just people in our immediate environment.”  This seems to me the most compelling answer to the question.  Downes mentioned that it “offers students . . . a support tool to promote reflective analysis.”  I believe it would be just as easy to use paper and pen to reflect but the one thing that would be more difficult without the blog technology is “a learning community that goes beyond the school walls.”  I also think that it allows for personal publishing which would be difficult without blogging technology. 

I am not clear about what the advantages are for teachers using blogs to replace their class web pages.  I am not sure how it simplifies the task. I am also not sure that they are the best technology to use in organizing in-class discussions. Will Richardson stated in the article that “The blogging process just seems to .. . be closer to the way we learn outside of school.”  There has been a lot criticism leveled at situated learning and  communities of practice in traditional schooling.  The traditional school structure does not lend itself well to these concepts; however, blogging makes that more possible and even less difficult.

6 Responses to Educational use of blogs

  1. I’ve seen teachers use blogs to post a running update of class assignments, activities, and other announcements. For this purpose, the chronological nature of blogs is simpler than a static webpage. I don’t know about using blogs for in-class discussions, but for out-of-class discussions, they can be pretty useful for teachers because of the ability to moderate comments. The Disqus plug-in supports threaded comments on blogs.

  2. Mary McEwen says:

    Blogs are easier than webpages (actually blogs are special types of webpages) because most bloggers need to know little if anything about HTML, Javascript, XML, servers, backups, etc, but can still do some pretty ‘neat stuff’. Plus, there are a wealth of ‘gadgets’ out there to incorporate with very little effort. It basically all comes down to ‘user interface’ for both creator and user. But in a general sense isn’t that true for almost everything of worth? User interface is huge, and at it’s best when it is almost un-noticeable.

  3. sarajoypond says:

    …we keep hearing about “exchanging viewpoints” and “conversations” and “discussions” and I whole-heartedly agree that blogs [and most other new media technologies] are most effective, most positive when used in this fashion. One of the things I’ve noticed, at least for me, hindering this type of application is the length of postings. The one you mention here, Cheryl, and many others like it, are LONG! I stopped reading after a couple of paragraphs, realizing that the was almost a full-fledged essay…a very long probe. They seem much more effective when they are concise and perhaps even less than perfectly polished. Yvette’s point about the comments being the most worthwhile part of the post [can’t figure out how to leave a comment on your site, Yvette] is also instructive, I think.

  4. David Wiley says:

    I’m not sure that having students blog provides that many benefits to the instructor, either. I think it’s just as easy / hard from the teacher point of view (RSS is handy, though). I think the benefits are mainly to the students, who have the opportunity to engage many people with their thoughts, feelings, and passions.

  5. I liked your initial query about, does the new media give affordances that would be difficult or impossible without it…I think that that is a necessary question to ask about any new technology! I suppose as these technologies become more integrated into everyday educational situations, the usefulness will begin to tell over time! Thanks for your thoughtfulness!

  6. Yetters says:

    Yo, Cheryl!

    Good to see you in a blog space! I like the idea of writing to learn. For me, when I write, I am able to better articulate my thoughts. The blog space allows me to write down some thoughts that I would perhaps not otherwise share. As an educational tool, I do believe it allows for reflection and probing.

    We’ll see how it goes. I need to blog more.

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