Saturday, February 11, 2006

Blogging is a Class/Classroom Activity ... for now

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D'Arcy blogged a summary of Thursday's Social Software Salon at the Northern Voice Blogger Conference in Vancouver. One of the thinks he shared was the nature of blogging in the classroom.

Blogging is not a classroom/class activity

We talked about the current implementation of blogging in the context of a class. Someone mentioned that a student may have 5 different blogs - one for each class - and must post content to each blog in order to get “credit” for their work. And, at the end of the semester, the blogs are nuked from orbit. So, not only is a student’s work divided across several quasi-related locations, it is so closely tied to the Class that in ceases to exist after the Class is over.

But, what we’re hoping to approach is the mythical “lifelong learning” - if content is tied to a Class, that implies that Learning occurs only in that Class. And that learning starts from scratch in the next Class. And for the following cohort.

While I agree with the better part of all the sentiments D'Arcy summarized I think the idea of each student in a school having their own blog is more a vision of the future than a reality of today. Which has implications for "Blogging is not a class/classroom activity."

What we've got right now are pockets of blogging teachers around the world connecting and learning from each other through their personal blogs. The blogs that students have in school are more or less limited to the class in which they have a blogging teacher. There's a better chance that their next teacher will NOT be a blogger. And even if they are a blogger, they may not yet be using the tool in their classes. So, for the present, blogging IS a class/classroom activity -- and a fairly uncommon one at that. What we hope for is that our students take their learning forward into their next classes with them. If the teacher doesn't provide the learning ecology, then perhaps they will build it on their own.

There is no reason that a classroom blog needs to be "nuked" out of existence at the end of a course. As a matter of fact, that strikes me as a sort of vandalism. Leave the digital content online; there's room for all of us out here. Moreover, students in the next class, taking the same course, can refer back to the work done by the students who came before them, learn from and build on it -- taking another step down the road to life long learning. (I can hear Newton whispering something about the "shoulders of giants.")

I very much liked the vision of the future D'Arcy wrote about. In my imagination, in the very near future, each student will have their own blog and each class will as well. A fundamental feature of each student's personal blog will be several feed windows coming from each of their class blogs (along the lines of netvibes.com). They will be able to consume and contribute content on the fly, multitasking not just within a single class' learning environment but across all the learning content generated by their teachers and classmates in all their classes.

The technology exists to do this today. Right now. All free. We're not there yet though. What will it take?

7 comments:

D'Arcy said...
11/2/06 17:24  

Completely agree that this isn't the case now. I should have written "Blogging shouldn't be a classroom/class activity"

Schools are definitely not set up for this level of managed anarchy - but we'll get there...

Tom Hoffman said...
11/2/06 18:32  

You need a grant for between $50,000 and $150,000.

Darren said...
11/2/06 19:12  

How would you spend that Tom? All the resources are web based and free.

Ewan McIntosh said...
12/2/06 05:56  

It is becoming the reality in Scotland. Already we have students blogging their work on personal blogs on a v. small scale. Next week we start a whole (large) school blogging as individuals with feeds and, hopefully, by April that'll be up to individual student blogging in every local authority in Scotland. By September every student and teacher will have their own personal webspace (800,000 users) and this is likely to include a blog element - provided I get my way ;-)

Don't believe that something isn't happening just because you can't see it. Aim high and the chances are your ambitions will happen, bit by bit.

Letizia said...
13/2/06 15:31  

This conversation is really helpful, thank you!
I've left my comment on Darcy blog.

(Ewan, I'm really interested in what are you doing in Scotland. I've just added your contact in my list)

Caro said...
12/3/06 20:15  

HeXXX, my students aren't even allowed to access email at school.
And students AND FACULTY are blocked from any site that allows you to set up your own blog or page - including Yahoo and Geocities.

I have websites that I created specifically to supplement my classes. I very politely explained this, and requested that they be unblocked. I never received ANY answer from our tech department.

But I'm not bitter...
Caro

Darren said...
12/3/06 21:09  

Ouch.

Sounds like an uncomfortable arrangement. The way I did it at my school was to set up the blog and orchestrate it so that students did all their blog work from home -- they still do.

After a semester of this the administration at my school was so impressed with the depth and quality of the students work that they began to advocate for access to these tools as well. Might that be a strategy you could transfer to your mileu?

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