Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why Blog?

After exploring the blogs from the PowerPoint, what are your thoughts on blogging in education? Some questions you may want to think about include: How are blogs used as a communication medium for educators or students? How does the voice or tone of a blog influence the audience? Does blogging provide a 21st century educational experience that can't be gained in another way? Why or why not? Please chose to reflect on at least one of these questions or pose and answer another thought provoking question about the blogging experience in education. Be sure to post and respond to the posts of at least 2 of your peers by Sunday evening 6/19.(Happy Father's Day!)

39 comments:

Rachel Berkowitz said...

I really enjoyed exploring the blogs from the power point. I would click on a blog and see another blog recommended and I would end up reading another blog that I found to be very interesting. I think blogging in education is a very powerful tool for teachers to communicate with parents or other educators that share the same interests. Educators can get their message out there and provide a way for others to share their insight. Blogs are being used in different ways in the classroom to enhance and deepen student learning. Blogs can be a great communication tool for students and teachers. Teachers can post their syllabus or other important documents related to the class. Students can then participate in this blog by posting their assignments and engaging in discussion with other students. Blogs are a great way for students to communicate with each other as well as for teachers to communicate with their students.

In chapter two “weblogs,” the author says that blogs can be used as class portals, online filing cabinets for student work, portfolios, collaboration, school websites and much more. Blogs can be a very powerful platform for students to get their information out there to others. All different audiences can view their work and it shows students that their work is important for other purposes than just being used in the classroom. A really big part of using a blog for educational purposes is how students can collaborate. Students from all different places and backgrounds can connect and collaborate. Also, a blog can be used as an e-portfolio because a history of the students work will be archived. Students can reflect on their learning and the growth they have made.

Blogging provides a first-hand 21st century experience that can’t be obtained another way. There are other alternatives that can be used in the classroom, but I think that blogging is one of the most powerful ones for students to engage in. Blogging is not being just used now to teach writing it being used across the curriculum. Students can work together to solve math problems and students can also run science experiments. There are so many different ways to use blogs in the classroom by using blogs it provides students with an authentic learning experience and teaches them to be 21st century thinkers and learners.

Kathy said...

Blogging is a great 21st Century tool for adult learners and adult teachers. Knowledge can be communicated quickly, efficiently, and to unlimited large audiences of students and educators alike. It seems quite obvious that this new learning tool with its ever growing capabilities will be relied on within every classroom in the US within the next few years.

On page 33 of his book, Will Richardson points out that, 'Blogging across the curriculum' is a magnificent way to communicate with subject-matter-experts and other educators, creating endless connections. Imagine if I had had these types of technologies in high school instead of a typewritter- how much I could have learned.

Additionally, what better way to learn firsthand about culture, language, history, and limitless other categories in education, without leaving your desktop. This is an authentic learning experience for students and can be built upon with scaffolding learning.


Just a thought, I do think that blogs cannot take the place of learning by 'hands on' experiences. Such as: traveling, volunteering in your community, working for charity or helping a non-profit ogranization. There can be no better 'teacher' than actually getting out there and doing something that gives you that feeling of intrinsic value. You can read about it on a blog and you can communicate it with friends but doing something educational is so much more valuable for student development.

However, it is also true that many folks do not have the opportunity or time to particiapte in those types of educational opportunities and that is where the blog becomes ideal. Then it can become a viable source as a writing and learning classroom tool. Blogging can also help a teacher or a student explore new ideas and expand on those that they already have in their existing knowledge base. collaborating the students will be able to easily reflect on what they know, and what they still need to know.

I really loved all the links in the PPT that you provided us. A few I couldn't get to work, but the majority of them did and after watching them I then went on to view other instructional videos on YouTube. I especially enjoyed all of those helpful videos clips by Lee Le Fever he was so excellent. He spoke with clarity that was plain and concise so that I easily understood each lesson. Loved his messages and sense of humor! Learning is always more engaging with a little bit of wit and humor thrown in and he did this effortlessly.


Here is a thought provoking question...what about the parents that can't afford computers for their students? I have family members in upstate NY that do not have computers because they can't afford them. They have no internet in their homes. Although they can go to their small town library that has about 4 computers (that limit each student's time). My nephew is 16 years old and has never had a computer in his home. This makes the blogging experience very limited for him. Surely he is not the only student in this prediciment.

I agree that collaboration with blogging and e-portfolios are powerful tools for learning and working on problems with peers. These are very valuable tools as the student and teachers continue on their education pathways.

Kathy Ziolkowski

Nick Formica said...

Going through the blog/wiki exercises has renewed my interest in exploring thoughts and opinions of others over the web. Although I consider myself fully immersed in technology, I still prefer a synchronous verbal conversation to anything typed or recorded. With that being said, not everyone prefers this and I need to conform to keep abreast of opinions and trends. I started cleaning up my rarely used Google Reader and will begin scouring the web for feeds.
I think that blogs can offer something special over other educational mediums. Many students prefer to go online on their own time to gather information so providing course content and discussions online gives students a place they prefer to learn. For those that do not prefer this, they can at least learn to appreciate that others do and they can (hopefully) learn using other means. To sum this up, I see blogs as an additional format versus a total replacement to "traditional" learning. It is all about expanding our arsenal of learning tools.
My concern with going "online" for learning is that school systems have trouble with liability concerns of communication out of class and creating an expectation of computers/internet at home. I still have students that do not have computers/internet at home, at least reliably enough for me to have web-based requirements out of class.

Jackson Edwards said...

I can’t say a similar experience blogs provide could not be gained another ways (e.g. you could use a physical news letter in place of a blog), I can say other ways may not be as effective and wouldn’t utilize students predisposition toward new mediums information exchange. Blogs are often used by educators as an organizational tool, to announce and keep track of events and dates like www.stevehargadon.com , or to share views and opinion on education like weblogg-ed.com or education news.

I think blogging is a great tool for keeping parents informed and up to date with what’s going on inside the classroom. I like the idea a blog being the hub or portal for classroom information. I like the point that the technology is not the point (Jacobs pg 86), if a blog is just a place to keep homework assignments how is it much better a paper worksheet? Blogging needs to add something more, which it does. Beyond just being an effective too to engage parents it’s an effective medium to keep students informed and engaged also, whether it be a student that missed a day for the doctors who wants to know what was taught the day missed or as a forum for students to do their homework (Richardson, pg 45), to ask questions on the daily posts if they’re stuck on their homework with responses from the teacher and potentially promoting a collaborative environment in which students answer students’ questions, a “participatory culture” (Jacobs pg 83) where students are involved in their and their classmates’ learning shifting responsibility (Shirky 2008).

It’s effectively a conversation (more casual than the classroom environment) but there’s record of it, which means that students can refer back to it for help, and (like is done here in this course) as a way to for the teacher to monitor participation (Richardson, pg 46)

Nick Formica said...

Jackson Edwards said...
I can’t say a similar experience blogs provide could not be gained another ways (e.g. you could use a physical news letter in place of a blog)

You did clarify your statement later in your post, but part of the idea of a blog is to as Thomas Friedman would say it, “Flatten the world.” That is, give everyone equal access to a medium to be an author. A newsletter is inherently a limited in its distribution, so anyone that isn’t on the “list” will likely not have access and will never see it even if they are put on the list in the future. Additionally, a newsletter does not allow instant commentary/feedback or syndication. While we could discuss the strengths of various mediums, the general point is that no single medium is ideal for all circumstances and as each new option emerges we need a progressive attitude on how the “technology” can expand our toolset. As you rightly said from Jacobs book the specific technology doesn’t really matter it’s the ability to capitalize its strengths while its relevant, something very difficult to be “allowed” to do within a school setting.

Mitra said...

I was blogging before, and created some blogs for some of my courses in JHU, but reviewing the PPT I have noticed more detailed information regarding blogging. I remember the first time I used RSS, I was so overwhelmed by the volume of information update I received every morning from different web sites. However, it was so exciting to see all the new and updated staff in the Reader.
I have been reflecting on the question “Does blogging provide a 21st century educational experience that can't be gained in another way? Why or why not?” a lot and I think for the time being blogging provides the experience that the 21th century learners need to gain.
It was in the news that, “Thirty-four percent of the women aged 18 to 34 surveyed by Lightspeed Research for Oxygen Media said checking Facebook was the first thing they did in the morning, even before washing their face or brushing their teeth.” (http://www.physorg.com/news197744311.html) this is the world that we are living in. This is the world that revolves around the learner and the user and its inhabitants need constant connection with their surroundings. Most of the young people when they want to know about the news they check their facebook, instead of reading a paper, or even using the New York Times website. They need information that is shared by the group of friends. Why? I think because the internet generation is looking for personalized experiences. These personalized experiences are offered by the companies who figured out this need. Take Apple, for instances, its iTunes store offers services that make the user to have access their favorite music in less than a few seconds.
Blogging gives this personalized experience to each of the learners.
Another factor is “collaboration”. According to Richardson weblogs expand the wall of classroom. The collaborative feature of the weblog makes it easy for the learners to be the members of the global classroom. It does not matter that if the user lives in a developed country like Norway, or a developing country like Iran that has a lot of trouble with internet filtration and bandwidth, people can share knowledge and information collaboratively through blogging.
According to the report from BBC news, 15 December 2008, “Iran has one of the most vibrant blogging communities in the world-despite government boasts that it blocks five million websites.” To know the power of weblog I have to say that blogging is a crime in Iran and bloggers are sentenced to twenty years in prison just for blogging, and still the government cannot stop them.

Richard Morgan said...

Blogging has the potential to transform education in the 21st century. Blogging can alleviate some of the perennial problems of education. As a pedagogical tool blogging can be used to help students transition from knowledge consumers to knowledge producers. A class blog allows students to participate in nontraditional ways. In every classroom there are students who do not feel comfortable participating in discussions. A blog allows these students an opportunity to express their opinions, assess class material, and engage other students through a medium that may feel more comfortable than face to face interaction. Students can also use blogs to extend class lessons by posting relevant links. For example, a possible assignment for a social studies blog could have students find a map and post it to the blog. After students have completed the assignment a class discussion about the different types of map would further extend the lesson.

While blogging is a useful medium for communication, blogs raise several problems of authenticity and validity. Determining whether or not a blog can be used as a valid source has its inherent difficulties. Difficulties arise from the challenge of separating facts from opinion. As quoted in Richardson “determining what to believe - or not to believe- is a matter of trust” (Downes quoted in Richardson 2010, 37). There are several methods of assessing the authority of a bloger. Richardson mentions a number of tools which can be used to investigate the reputation of a blogger. One of the most important tools is google. A google search can reveal information regarding the blogger’s profession, employer, and educational background. Technorati.com is another useful tool. This website has an “authority” rating that is based on the number of bloggers that have linked to a particular blog (38). Of course these methods are not perfect, however they can be used to teach students the process of information validation.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rachel,

I enjoyed exploring the blogs in the power point as well. I particularly enjoyed Scott Mcleoed's blog called Dangerously Irrelevant.

His blog on the 1980's text based computer adventure game Zork, was particularly interesting. I had forgotten how enjoyable I had found interactive fiction to be during my adolescence.

Richard Morgan said...

Kathy said... "what better way to learn firsthand about culture, language, history, and limitless other categories in education, without leaving your desktop?"

Because few students have the opportunity to travel the world, blogging and social media technologies are essential for cultivating this generation's global citizens. Students can read blogs from cultures all over the world. They can view music videos from Mexico, recipes from Singapore, and TV shows from England. There are blogs that cover all of these topics and more.

Jackson Edwards said...

Nick Formica said... I started cleaning up my rarely used Google Reader and will begin scouring the web for feeds

Nick I had the same experience this last week, I went to google reader and was surprised to find I had already set up an account a long time ago so I too had a lot of cleaning to do before I started using it again.

Jackson Edwards said...

Nick Formica. I agree with what you’re saying, I’m thinking of blogging in the limited context of how I could see it being utilized in my math classroom and so my audience is intended to be limited to the 120 students and their parents, not global distribution (for which a newsletter has obvious flaws) but agree that instant commentary and feedback is an obvious major benefit of the blog over some more classic methods.

Erin Renner said...

Students are already exposed to social networking sites, like Facebook, which already provides a medium for commenting and posting information such as videos or articles. Students are already familiar with the idea of commenting on other individual’s ideas. If they are exposed to Blogs, they can start using their developing critical thinking and problem solving skills, as well as creativity and collaboration to develop a spot where they can demonstrate knowledge and share what they are learning with others.

After accessing the Blog links provided, I was able to identify a few that I would like to continue following. I began sharing them with my co-workers, including my principal. There are so many interesting and applicable things out there. This is the perfect medium to share and promote ideas among educators around the world.

Blogging does provide a 21st century educational experience that can't be gained in another way. Simple discussion or group work in a classroom does help develop communication skills, but the Internet offers so many more perspectives and opportunities. It allows students to practice their 21st century skills in a meaningful way. Heidi Hayes Jacobs highlights the idea that we need to prepare students for the global job market and to be informed citizens in the 21st century. (101) I found it very interesting that she mentions teachers are hesitant to focus on those skills because they are forced to prepare students for the state tests that are designed to measure how well we are doing at closing the achievement gap (102). I agree with the fact that those skills are not the sole, determining factor of a student’s success in the post-secondary world. Blogs are a great way to increase global connections. With the use of the Internet, students can collaborate with other individuals around the world to demonstrate and develop their content knowledge using the 21st century skills.

Will Richardson also supports the idea that blogging is important for preparing students to enter the “real world.” Blogs connect students to others outside of the classroom, and allow for the use of reflection and metacognitive skills. Also, I liked the idea that Richardson mentioned a blog as a tool for differentiating within the classroom. Many of my students do not want to share their ideas in front of the class, but they will write them down. A blog might give them the opportunity participate and be heard (27).

I think Anne Davis stated it best in her Rationale for Educational Blogging, “It is not just a matter of transferring classroom writing into digital spaces.” Many people believe it’s just using the Internet for the sake of using technology. This is not the case if it is done correctly. Students are also learning digital and information literacy skills. It does not take the place of direct instruction in effective reflection writing and using the resource in a meaningful way. Students have to identify an audience, analyze text, and provide support for their responses when creating and collaborating within a blog. Typical classroom research projects make students use these skills, but they are missing a consistent digital approach, which is necessary for students to be successful in a technology filled world.

In Baltimore County we do not have access to normal blog sites. Wiki’s are approved for collaborative use in the classroom, but I don’t think Wikis are functional for blogging. The trouble the county has with normal blog sites is that, in order to open up the site for use by us, it's also opening up the entire site, which also includes any other individual's blogs that are, in large part, unregulated. Because we have to protect kids from potentially obscene or inappropriate content, we can't use them. I’m wondering how else we might be able to bring more opportunities for blogging into the classroom…

Erin Renner said...

Rachel Berkowitz said, "...a blog can be used as an e-portfolio because a history of the students work will be archived. Students can reflect on their learning and the growth they have made."

I LOVE this idea. My school is pushing towards piloting e-portfolios for all students. When they graduate they will have a collection of artifacts to represent various 21st century skills. Our committee has been talking about ways for students to store and reflect on their work. The idea is for them to have something to show employers or colleges. It would be so easy for them to provide a link to their blog to share all of their hard work.

Erin Renner said...

Jackson Edwards said, "I like the point that the technology is not the point (Jacobs pg 86), if a blog is just a place to keep homework assignments how is it much better a paper worksheet? "

I completely agree with your statement. Proper use of a blog is something that needs to be taught to all stakeholders involved. The idea is to collaborate and practice problem solving and critical thinking skills, while developing digital literacy. Having students pose question to the teacher about homework is a great idea. I like the fact that you mentioned students might be able to answer each other's question's. I think implementing the EFFECTIVE use of a blog is the most challenging part.

Karalee Nagel said...

I find blogging to be very overwhelming. There is so much "stuff" on the internet and I find it hard to sift through it all and find the time to keep updated with everything. Even using RSS, I still find it to be a lot. Part of my problem is that I have not truly gotten into blogging and so the unknown is somewhat overwhelming. I do, however, see how beneficial blogging can be as an educational tool and hope learn to use it on a regular basis. I need to start small as Richardson details in chapter 3.

I feel that blogging provides a 21st century educational experience that cannot be gained through other means because students are learning through how the "rest" of the world functions and communicates. In the adult work world, professionals use blogging to further their knowledge in their field and on many other levels. Students need to collaborate with their peers in order to learn real-life situations as it will be their practice later on in life as well. On the other hand, I think that there needs to be a healthy balance between activities such as blogging, and other face-to-face interactions. I feel that with the shift towards technology-centered education, students are losing the social skills and experiences that they gain from being around peers instead of a computer screen. With a balance, blogging can be a very effective tool in the classroom as it prepares students for lifelong learning.

Miss Polan's Blog said...

Blogging is a very interesting concept for the 21st century. In one of my last classes in the technology program at Johns Hopkins, I took a lot of time exploring blogs around the around and across the country. I found it very interesting that some school systems, (in Florida), are going towards learning through a blog. All assignments are posted through the blog and the students take the time to do their research and comment through the blog. I believe that this can take away from the “hands on learning” for students. Can students do an accurate lab in their science class if everything is on the computer? However, I do love the idea that students can collaborate with their peers and bounce ideas off each other. At the same time, I am a very visual and hands on person. I like to hear and see the person talking instead of just writing and typing. Many folks are not like that and technology is the way to go. Blogs have wonderful potential, but I still like the old, traditional classroom setting.

One question, I do have is...does this work for elementary school students and has anyone tried it? The population of the school that I work at is a lower income school. Therefore, not everyone has access to computers at home. I would love to start a blog for my students; however, they do not have the background knowledge of computers as well as the support for their parents to participate regularly. I also think a blog is a great idea for working parents as well. Parents are so busy to come to conferences or even contact you, that having assignments and projects on the blog, parents can easily ask a question to the teacher or to other parents with questions. It is almost like a support system within the community. I do believe that it is a wonderful resource for teachers to uses with their colleagues.

Miss Polan's Blog said...

Nick and Jackson...After viewing the powerpoint, I had to do the same thing. I had to scour through my google feeder and see what I used and didn't use. I haven't been on it in a long time. I think I like following a blog or even the diigo that we set up better than the RSS feeders.
Dana

Rachel Berkowitz said...

Hi Karalee,

I completely agree with what you are saying about that blogging can be overwhelming. There is so much information that is displayed in blogs and finding the time to sort through it can be challenging. I think that RSS is a great way to help make it more manageable, but at the same time it can be a lot to tackle. I agree with what you said that there needs to be a balance between blogging and face to face interaction. Students can effectively collaborate online, but it is important that they still collaborate face to face in the classroom.

Rachel Berkowitz said...

Richard said, "In every classroom there are students who do not feel comfortable participating in discussions. A blog allows these students an opportunity to express their opinions, assess class material, and engage other students through a medium that may feel more comfortable than face to face interaction."

I think that is a great point about why blogs can be effective in the classroom. Students that don't normally feel comfortable sharing their ideas infront of their peers can feel more comfortable blogging. They can express their ideas and collaborate with others with out feeling the pressure in the classroom. Blogs are a powerful way that students can participate in discussions in all different subjects. It allows students to participate in creative and innovative ways that they might not be used to, but at the same time they are gaining a valuable experience.

Mitra Mahboubi said...

Kathy,
Regarding your question, “what about the parents that can't afford computers for their students?” I have to say that I am totally agreed with you and this is not a small issue. You can see this problem not only in the U.S but in all over the globe. However, I believe that situation in the U.S is far better than other regions. There are public libraries that provide free internet for everyone, and other places that people can use internet easily. I am not sure about the schools, but do you think that it is possible for schools to offer after school program for kids who are deprived of computer or internet to work with them?
Mitra

Mitra Mahboubi said...

Nick,
You mentioned your concern about the schools having trouble with liability and you are absolutely right. It is upon the educators and teachers to resolve that with educating their learners the netiquette and the skills that they need to apply while working with internet or online applications. One of the ISTE standards is about this:”Standard 4: Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility
Teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices.”
Mitra

Guy Lucas said...

Blogging is such a powerful tool. As stated in both the powerpoint presentation and by Richarson it has such a wide variety of applications. Blogs can be used as communication medium for educators or students to share news, information,questions, interest, and links to other relevant information. Plus blogs are active two way discussions and help to establish relationships around common interest.
The list of applications is exhaustive. Educators of course can share lessons, best practices, educational links, explore teaching and learning issues; post
homework assignments and other relevant class links. I loved the idea of blogs being used as class portals. The example from The Digital Learning Farm: Students as Authentic Contributors”by Alan November was a class portal taken to a whole new level. The student interaction with the inclusion of Skype keep the students engaged as active contributors to the learning process. If I am not mistaken the Digital Learning Farm also include a digital file cabinet that Richardson identifies as a space for online portfolio work.
Also in chapter two, Richardson states how weblogs enable students constructive stategies of learning; expands the walls of the traditional classroom; allows for archieving of the learning that teachers and students do; is a democratic tool to give all students a voice even the reluctant ones; and extendes the students learning expertise.

The tone of a blog influences can audience in many different ways. The influence of the teachers to moderate the blog and teach proper blogging responses will be necessary. As Richardson stated in chapter three, making sure that parents, students and administrators are clear about the expectations adn reasoning behind it will have to be done at the start of webloging.

And yes, blogging provides a first-es hand 21st century experience that can’t be obtained another way. Blogging gives you the ability to go beyond the walls of the traditional classroom, with its ability to allow the users to collaborate with students from other classrooms, schools, states, countries, etc. In addtion the ability it gives the users to include multimedia is excellent. Examples like video blogging using technology like Skype. Or even Moblogging when you post a blog entry, photo or photo to the web while away from your computer, you are moblogging or mobile blogging thru the use of a digital camera or phone.

Rachel Berkowitz said...

Hi Mitra and Kathy

After reading your posts I agree that this could be a major issue depending on what area you work in. Not everyone has access to internet to be able to keep up with a blog. I think Mitra made a good point about whether schools could have after school clubs to work on blogs. They could have a technology club where students are introduced to many of these technologies and then given opportunities to explore these different technologies. I know many schools have homework clubs and students could use the computers in the computer lab or media center to complete their homework if it was assigned online. I think having an after school program would be a great way to help solve the problem of students not having internet access at home.

Karalee Nagel said...

Erin Renner said, "Students have to identify an audience, analyze text, and provide support for their responses when creating and collaborating within a blog. Typical classroom research projects make students use these skills, but they are missing a consistent digital approach, which is necessary for students to be successful in a technology filled world."

Erin, I agree that blogging can be a useful tool in the classroom, not just teachers forcing technology into education for the sake of saying they have a "21st-century" classroom. In the real world, people use the internet for everything, and blogs are used for professional and personal purposes. Students need to start using these tools now because they are not just effective for adults, but if monitored and adapted appropriately, can be a powerful learning tool even at the elementary level.

Nick Formica said...

Mitra,
I know the NETS well from my previous JHU courses. You raise an important point, schools need to model technology responsibly and have standards to follow. I am surprised at how few school professionals are even aware of ISTE and/or the NETS standards. I guess if school systems as a whole integrated them more we would see an expectation of technology in the classroom with additional purpose.
Speaking of ISTE, is anyone going to the Philly conference? If so, please visit the JHU booths. Many JHU students are presenting there, myself included.

Karalee Nagel said...

Richard Morgan said, "As a pedagogical tool blogging can be used to help students transition from knowledge consumers to knowledge producers."

Richard, I love how you put this. You are right--blogging does create a real life purpose for what students are doing and learning in school. If students know they are going to be sharing with others through blogging, it makes the learning meaningful. What more can a teacher want but to make learning purposeful for the students?!

Hart Edmonson said...

Kathy and Mitra,
On the question, “what about the parents that can't afford computers for their students?” I find this interesting too. I do know that some private companies like Comcast, even though it was mandated for them to do so by a lawsuit...are offering broadband service and reallllly cheap rental laptops to anyone within their service area who is on Free and reduced lunch. Despite the way that Comcast got into the program, as part of a court-ordered anti-trust settlement, it is an impressive idea and will hopefully help with the kind of access and dissemination issues that you bring up:
http://internetessentialspartner.com/
$9.95 for comcast
149.99 for a laptop

Hart Edmonson said...

Karalee and Richard,
On "As a pedagogical tool blogging can be used to help students transition from knowledge consumers to knowledge producers."
I think that this well put. It reminded me of the readings from "Edublog Insights" and Anne's final observation that,"In fact, the ability to learn continuously changing technologies for literacy may be a more critical target than learning any particular technology of literacy itself." As students are put in the driver's seat of a blog, they are gaining the confidence to translate that literacy to countless other spheres, a skill that they will need more and more as our modes of communication evolve more quickly than ever.

Robert Kearns said...

I found this week’s readings and PowerPoint on blogging very interesting because I don’t think I’ve taken the opportunity to step back and really examine blogs as a form of communication due to the fact that I use them so often and they are such a huge part of my personal and professional life. I think this probably reflects on my status as a digital native but I would say I use blogs as my primary way of getting information. I’m currently subscribed to over 150 blogs through my Google Reader account and scan hundreds of articles daily on a wide range of subjects that are tailored to my interests.

I think Richardson had a very interesting thought when he says: “We’re seeing a new model of journalism evolving right in front of us, one that is much more immediate and much more complex in terms of who to trust and what to believe”. One of the things I find so attractive about blogs is the lack of any kind of filter between the news source and the reader. I use blogs to get the news because I can get just the new stories faster and, I think, more accurately than I can on traditional news websites. If you go to the frontpage of CNN, you have to wade through dozens of ads, sponsored links and other content that distracts from real news.

In my opinion, one of the most interesting uses of blogs is being done by Google. Google encourages its development teams to blog about their work developing new products, the difficulties they run into, their ideas for the future, etc. It’s part of what they call “radical openness” where they improve their products by engaging the customers at every step of the process. It does bring up an interesting situation, however, because Google is a publicly traded company. What if someone on the dev team blogs about something damaging to the company? What happens if Google or another company blogs about a product they’re not actually developing in order to scare away competition? Blogs strength of being a more direct link to a story can also be a negative if our author is untrustworthy.

Robert Kearns said...

Hi Richard,

I liked your comment that in every class there are students that are afraid or too shy to participate. Blogs and commenting certainly give them the opportunity to communicate in a potentially more comfortable medium and can spur their participation. In our classes at Johns Hopkins, we create a forum in every class where students can post questions anonymously so they don't have to identify themselves but everyone can benefit from knowing the answer to their question.

Robert Kearns said...

Hi Nick,

I agree with you that online classes often leave you wanting for a verbal conversation where you can have more human interaction. One of the things we're researching at Hopkins is a product called VoiceThread which actually lets students respond to a an article, presentation, blog, and many other types of content by leaving an audio comment or using their webcam. This has been really interesting for us because students can communicate with each other without worry about correct spelling or grammar and they can also see their classmates faces which really seems to improve group cohesion.

Hart Edmonson said...

Looking at blogs about education, or really most any other blog, this class has forced me to confront some of my own underlying attitudes toward the technology. My gut reaction is to judge the validity, authenticity of such blogs. At least until now, my mind makes the snap value judgment that the place to go for “valid” information is one of a handful of sites run by professionals: “Why go to some blog with 200 followers when I could read the Times” goes the train of thought. Giving blogs the time of day for even the 20 minutes I spent looking through the powerpoint’s list gave me a more nuanced opinion of blogs. These are personal, smaller in scope for the most part. These blogs take personal stories and turn them into best practices or use personal experience to elucidate larger ideas, news events, or policy discussions. While I still get the majority of my news from the “elite” standards, blogs could for me “fill in” my views. I think the best blogs for my purposes will not be those that editorialize so much as those that are run by knowledgeable individuals who can “cull” for the new, bright, information.
As for blogging from the driver’s seat, I think it would be a great way to keep up with a passion or a profession. If you have a group of people who enjoy your thoughts on a subject and like a steady flow, I’m much more likely to keep up with the task of putting my thoughts together. These kind of communal reinforcing standards of “standing on each others' shoulders” are, I think, blogs, at least for professionals, at their best. For students, the relative novelty of being a blog author is great incentive to create their own environment and hopefully interact in meaningful ways about things that matter in a certain subject area. I tend to agree with the authors we’ve read that educators who “bemoan the future and long for the past when “students could write”” are mostly off track. Students do write today! But they write differently! A moderated blog project on a certain literary author or subject area would be a great “middle ground” between classic teaching orthodoxy and the technologies that our students are more used to in order to connect with one another. I had these thoughts when I read Richardson’s line that in order to be successful in the future in 1) such participation with each other as professionals, and 2) in how we teach writing to students “ …will require us to redefine the processes we currently use in relative isolation.” (Richardson, 91). I wish I had read the lines when I was still the classroom.
As for my previous validity remark, the statistics from the PowerPoint about the accuracy of Wikipedia were surprising to me. So far, this class has helped tip me to look past the new technologies, and instead see a chance at new relationships. I think Jacobs put it best that: “It’s important to concentrate on relationship, not technologies (Jacobs, 86). I look forward to exploring this further as I begin the blog project this week.

Kathy said...

Hi Hart,
Thanks for the information. Unfortunately my nephew doesn't qualify since both his parents work and make minimum wage. However, we know you can't live off that small amount. So they have nothing extra and are always in the red at the end of the month. Nothing extra can be budgeted for a computer. But they are saving for one. But he seems to absorb technology like all the other 'digital natives.' He blogs with his fellow 'upward bound' an organization that helps prepare under priviledged students for college, funded by the state of NY.
Anyway thanks for your insightful comments!
Kathy

BethelTan said...

I have been asked by a student in the past to follow his blog in the past. I remember saying, "sure" and then never thought about it. I also knew that there were some teachers in the same building who blogged and certainly were enthusiastic to share about who they followed and what they learned. But I was never very interested in creating my own blog, let alone following someone's blog. I always thought, "who would read what I post?"
At the same time I feel like I'm falling back in the social norm if I am not at least understanding and participating in blogging at some level. I know that my students are bloggers and perhaps their parents may be, too. I understand that I cannot just ignore the culture and do it my own way if it does not serve the interest of my students.
Having said that, I think blogging is a great tool to communicate with my students. Off the top of my head, I think it may be helpful if I can post useful youtube videos on math lessons that reinforce what I taught that day. I can also most helpful hints on homework, remind upcoming quizzes and tests, as well as answer questions and continue the dialog that was left hanging in the classroom.
The point is, I am starting to understand more and more that it is essential to create an environment for students that foster learning- and is blogging is the preferable medium, then it must be done.

BethelTan said...

Miss Polan- I can see your point in wondering if students can indeed learn accurately from science experiments all conducted on the computer. As for me, I wonder about the value of face time with students. That is, is the time spent facing teachers/students something that can really be replaced/substituted by an online communication? For adults juggling work and school, this is a great way to learn. But I still think there is a value for students to have "real-life" interaction with peers and teachers. Nothing to do with nostalgia here (even though I like to still snailmail cards)-but I still think children need to learn to communicate and interact with others and school provides that real-world platform.

BethelTan said...

Mitra,
You shared a great point about Iran's vibrant blogging community, despite laws and oppression against blogging. Your point made me reflect on how free I am to blog and get into the 21st century communication medium, yet it was my lack of interest that held me back from further exploring what is out there and available-makes me feel guilty for taking the freedom I have for granted.

Syreika said...

After much research I realized that blogs have been in existence for many years, but has just recently started to gain popularity. This technological phenomenon has also trickled into education. Prior to doing this course I had little knowledge about blogs or blogging. My only understand was that a blog is a page on which one can participate in a discussion with an identified group, about a specified topic. After exploring the blogs listed in the power point presentation I was able construct a more meaningful understanding of what blogs are and what they can be used to accomplish. Based on my current knowledge I believe that there is a place for blogs in education. Its use in this arena can take various forms. It can be used for instructional purposes, as well as, professional collaboration. I was surprised to discover how user friendly it was navigate and create a blog.
To effectively offer ours students optimal educational benefits, this groundbreaking web tool should be used in the education setting. The integration of blogs in the educational setting provides a 21st century learning experience. It creates the opportunity for students to read and write. Most significant integrating blogs in education provides students with opportunity to learn and demonstrate 21st century skills (including critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, creativity and innovation). It is also a powerful tool to increase students’ participation in learning activity, because it allows students to work virtually.
Certainly, it is imperative that all participants of a web-log use appropriate tone, especially if it is being used for educational purposes. To ensure this, the teacher should set the premise for conversation for students to model, while using the blog. In the primary or secondary school setting to maintain appropriate tone teacher should take steps to manage students’ behavior and ensure that the tone they use is “classroom” appropriate. The teacher will need to make it clear that the blog is a learning environment. As a result, they are expected to follow the classroom rules in order to avoid consequences. The colors, letter styles, pictures and videos used on the blog are features that affect the tone on a blog. If the teacher uses a conversational, positive and assertive voice or tone students will be inclined to participate in an appropriate manner.

Syreika said...

Katy that is a very pertinent question (limited resources).
My own believe is that students should not be excluded from the learning experience, because of circumstances out of his or her control. The teacher will need to be creative in considering options to accommodate student(s). They will have to consider ways to use the computers they have, so that students can effectively participate in the experience. A possible solution is schedule time during the school day for student(s) to access computers in school.

Syreika said...

Richard,
The world is indeed a global village. Do you ever wonder what the cultures of nations and the global as a whole will be like in time to come? I am from the West Indies and I can vividly recall the time when cable TV was introduced back home. This had a remarkable impact on our culture. Fashion, music and food are the three main aspects that I obverse to be mainly affected. For example, many kids no longer only listen to only reggae, socca and rumba but hip hop, rock and pop became popular genres listened to back home. I remember one evening in bible study the main discussion was Christian attire. Some argued that they see on TBN where church leaders wore jewelry and female wearing pants and cut their hair. I observe that after a few years the our church attire changed to reflect what was depicted on TV. With these new web technologies I wonder what the impact will be like.