One of the ideas that was floated at the Interest Group meeting on Thursday night was the idea of opening this blog up a bit and having some of us who’ve been “into blogging” write a few posts to cover some topics of interest. This blog could then become a launching point for those teachers who want to know a bit more about the basics and how blogging could be useful here in South Australia. So, I’ve put my money where my mouth is and decided to tap out this starter.
What is blogging’s link to education? Well, if you’re reading this then my guess is that you are pretty keen on being aware of emerging trends in the world of technology and have your eyes peeled for how they could impact the classroom. You want to make sure that your students aren’t left to fend for themselves and that you offer them guidance in the mastery of these new technologies. And there’s a lot of these new web-based technologies about. Blogs is the just the start. Throw in wikis, social bookmarking, startpages, rss, aggregators, online office apps, photo sharing, podcasts etc. and the average teacher’s head starts to swim. Most are still coming to grips with powerpoint and spreadsheets and Photostory. That’s fine – we all don’t have to be into geeky computer based stuff. But increasingly, our students are. With their mobile phones, MSN, X-boxes and myspace accounts, they are forging ahead into the brave new world of online existence, with or without their teachers. But they don’t have the wisdom that comes with experience, they don’t realise long term potential ramifications when they live in the “now” and they certainly can’t unlock the educational potential on their own. Our students need powerful role models, teachers who’ve tasted where they’re coming from and can guide in meaningful and knowledge building directions. So we get back to blogging.
What is so compelling about blogging is that it is one of the easiest ways for anyone to gain an online presence and be master of their small domain. It relies heavily on the written word and arranges things in reverse chronological order so there is an automatic pre-ordained structure in place. Through the use of themes, blogrolls (links to other blogs) and other bits’n’pieces, it can be quickly customised to one’s own tastes. Because a blog is web based, anyone in the online world can read and if comments are turned on, interact with it. It is a very transparent technology and that can be what makes teachers a bit nervous about becoming bloggers themselves. A blog is an easy proposition technically – if you are learning the technology aspect alongside of your class, then there isn’t necessarily anything that requires a teacher to have prior blogging experience.
But the technology is only a small part of the equation. At the meeting on Thursday I quoted Doug Noon, an Alaskan education blogger with his points about what blogging really involves:
As soon as you start a blog you are confronted with a series of questions that demand answers. For example:
- “Should I blog anonymously?”
- “What should I write about?”
- “How much of my personal business should I reveal?”
- “Can I say anything I want?”
- “Who will read this stuff?”
- “What if I get a comment I don’t like?”
- “Why don’t I get comments?”
These are not technical problems. They are decisions about how to act.
A teacher who asks kids to keep a public blog, should be aware of what is involved. It is an issue of credibility, but not credibility with kids. It’s an issue of professional responsibility to understand the reasons why we want our students to do the things we ask them to do, and to understand the limits and benefits of our decision-making. Without any direct experience blogging, teachers hear a “blogs are good” message without knowing how or why. Blogging is more than simply writing. It’s a form of communication that enables and encourages self-discovery.
For me, sometimes in the world of blogging, when I want to say something, it’s already been said in words better than I can come up with. When I started blogging almost a year ago, I could not have imagined the incredible learning journey it would take me on. It would be great if more South Australian teachers joined the global conversation.
Teaching Generation Z