Blogging: Does It Scale?

12/04/2007 12:38:00 pm

I'm participating in a forum as a mentor for a group of teachers learning about using web 2.0 tools in their classrooms. One of them asked about how would blogging across the curriculum and grades scale?

I don't know that there is a best answer but this is where I'm at in my thinking about it at the moment:

There are basically three models teachers use to blog with their students:

(1) A Comment Blog • The teacher creates the blog and is the sole authour.

• The teacher posts thoughtful (provocative?) questions to the blog and the students reply in the comments. They might even aggregate research (hyperlinked to sources) in the comments when prompted to by the teacher.

• This model is often used by teachers trying blogging for the first time. Nonetheless this can be an incredibly powerful use of blogging as exemplified in the, now dormant, A Look at Bullying blog.

(2) The Class Blog (this is what I do) • The teacher and students all share authourship and contribute content to the blog.

• The teacher structures the nature of the content that students are required to contribute and the students are free to contribute more as the mood moves them.

(3) The Mother Blog (Clarence Fisher does this. So does Barbara Ganly; I think she coined the term "Mother Blog.") • Each student has their own blog.

• The teacher runs a central blog that all the students subscribe to and check in on daily.

• The mother blog is linked to all the students blogs and vice versa.

• The teacher uses the mother blog to guide the students learning by:

» "handing out" assignments on the mother blog.

»aggregating and pointing to resources that may be useful in the students learning.

»highlighting exemplary work shared by students on their individual blogs. This drives traffic (comments) to that student's blog and models for the rest of the class what exemplary work looks like. (Powerful motivational consequences flow from this practice.)

How Might This Scale? If I were looking at a school wide implementation of blogging across the curriculum I would probably aim to have a fusion of (2) and (3) above:

»Each student would have their own blog where they aggregate all their work from all their classes through the years. Over time this becomes a concrete artifact of their learning. The content can also be remixed into a portfolio of all they have learned. Using a wiki to create that portfolio (pbwiki does this quite nicely) allows them to cross reference (using links) the opus of work archived in their individual blog.

»Each class would also have a class blog blog where the teacher could orchestrate and structure the class' learning experiences. All the content from that particular class would be aggregated in the class blog. Students would cross post (copy and paste) any content they create to both their personal and class blogs. Teachers may pursue a "mother blog" concept with their classes too simply by cross linking the student's blogs and the class blog.

»When students "graduate" from whatever school they are attending (elementary to high school, high school to university, etc.) they would take their individual blog with them. Hopefully, when they leave secondary school, they will continue to use their blog to capture their learning for the rest of their lives.

One virtue of setting things up this way is that it transparently models and provides the tools for life long learning.

Are there other benefits? shortcomings?

Are there obstacles to implementing this? What are they?

What do you think? ;-)

Photo Sources: untitled by flickr user stranded_starfish
node by flickr user uqbar

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