September 3, 2008

Is Classroom Blogging Dead? Or did we miss the blogging age window?

Filed under: edtech,learning,TeachersFirst,writing — Candace Hackett Shively @ 3:28 pm

I just read a thought-provoking article on course blogging by Sarah Hurlburt, a college professor of foreign languages and literature. Her analysis of the issues swirling around setting up and evaluating the success of a classroom social blogosphere are dead on. It makes me sense a hollowness in attempting any use of web 2.0 without a strong basis in pedagogy and analysis of the intricate relationships defined and created by each tool. These tools really do require rethinking. We aren’t just shaping the soft clay of learning into differently-shaped vessels. When we use these tools, we throw the clay into a communal lump and let everyone have at it at once. And if no one ever even told us about the foibles of clay in the first place (cracks easily if not dried the right way, requires glaze to hold liquids, etc.), we as teachers are likely to end up with a useless –though possible pretty — BLOB. We at TeachersFirst (especially the Edge team) can review tools and place them in a context familiar to teachers and students, but we risk missing the point entirely in doing so.

Perhaps the real power of some tools lies outside of any known classroom context. And the classroom context one teacher knows is different from that another knows. The chemistry teacher is not a writing teacher. So, as Hurlburt points implies, the chem teacher would not know the pedagogy of writing that an English teacher or Writers’ Project fellow might find intuitive.

Blogs were tacitly tossed aside as “passé”  by many attending NECC this year, even though blogging was the hottest topic in 2006. I do not believe that this was because wikis or Second Life are so much better. I personally believe that writing is so high-level a constellation of processes that many never “get it.”  And many are intimidated by it. And if you don’t “get” writing, you’ll never be able to create a successful, authentically social blogging community.

Hurlburt’s analysis is from a post-secondary context. What if we took blogging down to the little ones where writing process is less encumbered by self-consciousness? If  ever there were an opportunity to build an extended writers’ response group, this would be it. Start with a bunch of third graders (they might have some keyboarding skills), and let them customize their blogs (Hurlburt is right about the personalization!). learn about response and revision as social creative processes, and build a supportive mini-blogosphere. I can’t think of a better way to lead kids into seeing the tools as extensions of themselves , helping them learn positive ways to interact in virtual spaces, and building their vocabulary about language and message before they venture into collaboration on a wiki or other, more complex social tool. (Of course, we’ll have to get the school to stop blocking blog tools…)

kidblog2.jpgI suspect that those who learned to blog at age 8 would never stop. And wouldn’t that be a dream world: people able to express themselves instead of hitting each other? They might even be able to form a beautiful sculpture out of all that messy clay. I can dream. can’t I?

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.