Blogging – Exciting learning for all students

Welcome to TSoF’s (Technology School of the Future) Masterclass blog. If this is your first visit to a blog you may like to begin by using the links at the top of this page. There you will find details about the upcoming Masterclass, shared blogging resources as well as some information about James Farmer and Barbara Ganley, our guest presenters for the event.

Setting up a blog as a shared resource for educators has been an interesting journey. The question I have asked is: “Can a blog be owned by a group of people – an organisation? If a blog is supposedly social software then surely I can make it what I want it to be? Surely we should all be free to explore what works for us and challenge the ‘rules’. This blog may not follow the standard format for a blog but let’s explore some of the possibilities and begin as we might with students. These are the resources – what can you do with them?

Please post comments and questions. Welcome aboard! We hope you have a great blogging experience!

Karen Church

25 thoughts on “Blogging – Exciting learning for all students

  1. Yes, for example class blogs can be a valuable communication and collaboration platform. I have been really impressed with the work Al Upton has done with his Year 3/4 Class at Glenelg Primary School. I would encourage other educators to look at his blog http://alupton.wordpress.com/.

  2. I too love Al’s blog. I love the way each of his students has their own blog within Al’s – and each one is very personalised. I have responded to a couple of them and will try to do some more asap.
    Al recommends Graham Wegner’s blog: http://gwegner.edublogs.org/
    Unfortunately that is blocked for many. We are currently investigating the issues for SA educators re DECS blocking of blog sites. I have contacted several interstate educators to ask for some help with this – so far no one seems to have a statement available. (recommended use etc) It seems that blogging is all a bit new. If anyone knows of one I’d love a copy.
    Karen Church

  3. I can see great benefits from students using a blog system within their class environments. The main problem with the blog environments is the time involved in moderating the content for teachers when students are involved.

    Under the duty of care it is difficult to allow students access to external blogs that may contain offensive materials. A work around may be to add some sites to the educonnect whitelist and manually check their content.

    Where does the responsibilty finish, is there a line in the sand somewhere?

    tsof said:

  4. I wonder if there any software that can filter the content of a blog? Educators obviously have a responsibility to check their students’ blogs but to check every new comment/post regularly is a big ask when a teacher may have 60+ students and potentially hundreds of comments daily.

    Karen Church 

  5. Yes Brad I agree duty of care can be an issue. It is worth exploring James Farmer’s Learner Blogs Site (http://learnerblogs.org/). this allows full-teacher moderation to occur.

    I realise time is still an issue but if the blog is an integral part of the learning program it could be seen as just an alternative medium that is checked. Karen is correct that this could be a mammoth task, but teachers could manage this successfully by careful selective implementation. It would be unmanageable to have every student in every class blogging, but if this were a negotiated form of journaling for some students I’m sure it could work. I’d love to get a perspective from others who are currently using this tool.

  6. I looked at Al Upton’s blog as you suggested Richard and TSoF. I am just beginning to explore the use of a blog with my Yr 4/5 class at Yankalilla Area School. I plan to attend the Masterclass via video conference on June 8th bit til then, where is a good palce to begin? Al’s looks pretty sophisticated to me…fantastic but Al is well down the path and I’m just beginning.

  7. As a total blog novice, I was inspired by the work of Al’s class and would love to find out more….

  8. The link below is from Will Richardson, “Learner in Chief” at Connective Learning and the author of the recently released Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms published by Corwin Press. It involves an interesting dilalogue about blogs, let me know what you think:

    http://www.weblogg-ed.com/why-weblogs

  9. Hi Karen
    The blogs look facsinating as a method of communication and it was very topical in our house on Sunday night because in “Criminal Intent” the murderer was using blogs to share his exploits. I was the only one in the house who understood what they were!!!!
    I have had a few of my students check out the blog link on Janison, tho they are yet to use it and probably I need to build up my ideas of how to use it effectively.

    This looks like a good idea for shared learning & investigation.

  10. I like the opportunity to modify comments as this is often a problem with forums… In my excitement I sometimes spell things incorrectly (can you believe that!!!) or I write grammatically incorrect sentences & I feel a bit powerless when I can’t reflect on it & change it.

  11. I can see blogging being a usefull tool that can be used by a teacher and groups of students in planning debates, for group research and discussions on a set topic.
    I envisage starting with an established group where guide lines can be discussed prior to using the tool.

  12. I too, like Cheryl have used forums with students a lot. (With varying success.) It’s interesting to see that Cheryl is comparing them to blogs. I like the way a forum can be imbedded in a page to stimulate thought and reflection on a particular topic.

    Blogs are so much easier for the novice to create and edit – just as long as we can get them ‘unblocked’! 

    I plan to look at learner blogs soon – I have so many questions… http://learnerblogs.org/
    I’m wondering this software/feature differs from edublogs?… What protection, if any do they offer our students? Has anyone had a chance to have a look as Richard suggests?
    Karen Church

  13. Great work guys 🙂

    With learnerblogs we don’t publicise the blogs (you can’t just browse them) and there’s no ‘latest updated’ area .. also I personally monitor the site to make sure that learnerblogs are not used for other purposes.

    Otherwise the basic software is pretty much the same.

    Cheers, James

  14. I’m really looking forward to the Masterclass but my initial response to this post (still very much like a forum, a blog in full flight has many different characteristics) is that we need to look at how we as educators can use this tool ourselves first before we think we are ready to plug it into classrooms. I strongly feel that unless you invest the time to really develop your own blogging skills, what hope do you have of using it to be a transformative tool in the classroom? There is so much opportunity using a blog to improve your practice in terms of gaining a better perspective of education globally, reflecting on your own work and making connections with others worldwide. You have to be a reader of other people’s blogs as well, otherwise you may as well write your thoughts up in a Word document. In summary, until you become aware of the power of a real audience that can potentially come with a blog, you won’t be abel to harness that power effectively for your students and blogging runs the danger of becoming a short term gimmick. I think that Barbara especially will emphasize this point of view. See you all there.

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  16. I thought I was a complete novice in regard to blogs but it suddenly occured to me that Ive just finished a uni course from Charles Darwin Uni that used blogging as its major strategy. Nobody ever said that was what is was called though! I have pulled out a couple of interesting articles recently that deal mostly with the security issue and teachers using blogs as a sharing and reflective tool. The Autumn issue of The Australian Educator mentions the middle school at Grant High School Mt Gambier monitoring security by using Serendipity hosted on the school server. How does that work? The ACT Teacher (last edition)article really links with Graham’s thinking above and examines using blogs as a professional learning tool. I agree that teachers need to have a good handle on usage, benefits, issues etc before they introduce blogs to kids. Karen can you recommenend any particularly good sites for professional learning/blogging for teachers?

  17. The best way to get into good sites/blogs for teachers is to have a starting point and look at that site’s blogroll which is a list usually in a sidebar (on the right in my blog, scroll down if using IE6 – Firefox is best!) that lists blogs that the blogger has an affinity for. If you visit my public Bloglines account, which is one way of subscribing to blogs en masse, then you can visit a wider host of blogs and start reading a bigger variety. Only like a few of my choices? Well, go directly to the blogs that you do like and repeat the process – blogroll, public Bloglines account etc. Drop me a comment at my blog if you want further assistance. Once you get started, it really isn’t very hard and as I said previously, reading is an essential pre-cursor to writing your own blog IMHO.

  18. I resonated with Graham Wegner……..until I have a better handle on Blogging personally…and have used it myself….. I doubt I’ll be introducing my Yr 4/5/ class to it.
    There are some things we explore together and use an éxpert teach others approach’e.g I-movies, but Blogging doesn’t lend itself to that process. (Does it???? :))
    Looking forward to the Masterclass.

  19. I want to share my thoughts on blogging with myself as I develop a personal understanding about the process and also connect with others who may be experiencing similar feelings about getting into something that is “unknown”. Since attending the June blogging masterclass, I have spent many hours reading about blogging, trying to get my head around the process and work out what it can do for learning programs at our school. I realise how difficult it is for people who lack confidence in working with new ICT’s. I agree with Graham Wegner’s comments that suggest that one needs to blog themselves before they use blogging with students and colleagues. However, I’m still not sure where to start. I have wanted to go online and make comments about some of the blogs I have read, but have a reticence in taking the step that opens up one’s thoughts to others – that feeling that they won’t be “right” or one will look pretty stupid.
    It is interesting when I continually tout the importance of getting children and teachers to take risks in their learning. And, if one is to walk the talk, then it is time.
    I can see lots of value in developng literacy skills through blogging where students and teachers can explore concepts, feelings, theories etc with themselves and others. It seems that blogging does rely on developing good english reading and writing skills – I like to see the use of correct grammar and spelling because it reinforces the value of the English/Australian language as opposed to “net language” which seems to be more aligned with slang and cheapening the language. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a prude and have no desire to make our language use elitist. But using the proper, accepted rules of language use does help to clarify writing and meaning for readers, and as globalisation grows, I think we do need to communicate better/ more effectively with people across the world.
    This is my first blogging comment and I will see where it takes me. I look forward, with some trepidation, to the journey!

  20. I know it is easy for me to be glib but Geoff’s comment here is a powerful example of how being open and honest is the best way to encapsulate your thoughts. Yes, it is nerve wracking to post those comments out in cyberspace – rightly so, because as adults who have had some experience in the online world, putting words out on public view is not to be taken lightly. Your words can be misconstrued, enthusiasm can be seen as aggression, people’s ideas can trampled on and once something is posted, enormously hard if not impossible to retract. So I am glad Geoff realises that if adults need reassurance, need caution when dipping their toes into blogging, then we owe it to our students to have a good working knowledge of what we are going to be expecting them to do, without the benefit of our background knowledge or life experiences.

  21. How are teachers in primary schools using blogging to improve students’ liteacy skills. Do you need to provide computers for all students on a regular basis? Do you trample off to the computer room and spend a couple of lessons each week communicating with “pen pals”? Do you encourage chidren to take a stance on an issue and invite comments from others? What are some of the examples of students blogging?
    In public schools, how do you breakout of the filters that suppress students’ and teachers’ opportunities to use the internet to communicate with oithers?
    I would be interested to read about what others are doing in the world of blogging with our primary &/ secondary aged students.

  22. Geoff just my sort of questions too. Those are certainly the issues for some of us in our schools. Are you coming to the interest group meeting on Thursday 6th? I am sure we will be discussing these grass roots issues and I expect Al Upton has some answers. Come along. TSoF 4.OO or via Centra. Karen Church is the contact or post on the interest group blog.