on the problem with blogs
Jeff Utecht on the Tech Learning blog writes about the problem with blogs which starts with some standard objections like they don’t make grading journals any easier especially with slow Internet connections, and we can’t protect our students from drive by commenters. However, he says the real problem:
The problem with blogs is that it is not about writing, it is about a conversation.
If you think of blogs as conversation vehicles, then it becomes easier to understand how blogs can be very powerful in education and the classroom. Too often, educators use blogs as a replacement for journals, when really what blogs should do is extend conversations from within the classroom to a wider audience. Those conversations should then be brought back into the classroom for further discussion. The word ‘blog’ might be short for Web Log, but the power of blogs is not in the writing, it is in the thoughts, the comments, and the conversation that they can start, sustain, and take into a million different directions.
This is a challenge I haven’t yet come to terms with. I am still at the point of making writing assignments that I comment on and urge students to comment on though they don’t seem to see much need for it. Perhaps I could incorporate blogs in the ways he suggests when he writes:
If you are blogging with your students, or you are thinking of blogging
with your students, I encourage you to not think of blogs as a writing
assignment, but instead to look at them as conversations. Conversations
that can give you both feedback about a lesson, or continue a
conversation well after a lesson has ended. Blogging brings a new
dimension to the classroom. You cannot blog and not change the
structure of your classroom. Two great examples of this are Mark Ahlness and Clarence Fisher, both of whom have seen blogging completely change the structure of their class.
If I could achieve this, I think the writing would be served well because the students would work to communicate more clearly than they do now where they see the blog as a one shot deal. I wonder how I can change the structure of my class and assignments to facilitate these kinds of conversations.
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