Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Why Blog w/Students??

I've heard this question before and my answer has always been long and drawn out. Today I watched Brian Crosby's presentation for the K12 online conference. He makes a good point, in saying that we've been talking for decades about creating authentic audiences for students when they write. Blogging provides a highly authentic and potentially global audience. To me, this reason alone provides a compelling reason to have students blog.


  1. In social studies classes, we often deal with controversial and emotional topics, and communication is essential as students learn about the past, the government, other cultures and countries, and the impact of these topics on today’s society. Edublogs can be used in an educational setting to foster this communication as well as provide additional content information in social studies.

    In their article “Content Delivery in the ‘Blogosphere’”, Richard Ferdig and Kaye Trammell identify four benefits to student blogging. Blogs help students become subject matter experts by leading them to scour, filter, and post information. Blogs lead to greater student interest and ownership in their learning, as they direct their own learning about topics that they find interesting. Any student has a legitimate change to participate in blogging, including individuals outside the teacher-student relationship. Finally, blogging provides an opportunity for students to be exposed to diverse perspectives.

    Obviously, blogging has a few challenges, including access to technology, unfiltered content, and the open nature of the discussion. Students should be informed about the importance of online safety, making sure personal information is never transmitted. Proper posting protocol should also be modeled, stressing making informed and supported statements and refraining from personal attacks and profanity. Blogs must be monitored carefully by the instructor in order to keep a productive discussion flowing. Assessment is still an unanswered question as well.

    How can blogs be used in the social studies? How about …

     Students posting a response to a “colorable” content question offered on an edublog, forcing them to offer an opinion and also read and respond to other postings. Should the US continue to honor Christopher Columbus with a federal holiday? Who was the greatest of the Roman emperors? Does our President have too much power? Should the government spend more money on global warming research? These questions can offer excellent starting points for a mature and exciting discussion among students and parents.
     Use students as resources for adult reactions to class topics. Student can ask their relatives who lived through historical eras (Depression, WWII, the 50s, Cold War, Civil Rights, the Vietnam era) to post their memories, thoughts, and feelings. A diverse collection of opinions would surface, and students can read and react to the postings.
     Students can be given a piece of literature (a poem, an excerpt from an anthology, a scholarly article) and post a reaction online.
     Students can become online book and/or movie reviewers, discussing and critiquing a book or movie either from class our outside of school.
     Students can collaborate on the creation of song lyrics about a historical topic..
     Blogs can be used as a showcase of student work and activity. Blogs can contain student writing and reflection about content topics, creative work, even digital video and photos.
     Blogs can be the base for podcasts, which will be discussed in more detail in this presentation.

    Whatever the idea, edublogs are becoming more prevalent and more useful as internet connectivity develops. Communication and interaction with content and ideas increases, and students are able to have a modicum of ownership over the direction and depth of discussion. In addition, blogging allows teachers and students to have an authentic platform for netiquette and the characteristics of digital citizenship. With the development of recent social technology, this should provide for a better WWW in the future.

    Some articles concerning blogging include ...

    Borja , Rhea. "‘Blogs’ Catching On as Tool for Instruction." Education Week. Volume 25, Issue 15 December 12, 2004. October 9, 2006

    Poling, Cathernine. “Blog On: Building Communication and Collaboration among Staff and Students.” Learning and Leading with Technology. Volume 32, Number 6. March 2005:12-15.

    Ray, Jan. “Blogosphere: The Educational Use of Blogs (aka Edublogs)”. Kappa Delta Pi Record. Summer 2006: 175-177.

    Richardson, Will. “Blog Revolution: Expanding classroom horizons with Web logs.” TechLearning. October 15, 2005.

  2. Chuck-GREAT response here. I especially enjoyed your ideas for blogging starting points. I really believe we're only limited my our imagination and creativity. So many good options are available for students to become positive content creators on the web.

    One other thought...a good way to have students get into the world of blogging is by having them read blogs written by other students or blogs written on topics their interested in (eg-iPhone blogs, Mark Cuban's Dallas Mavs blog, environmental awareness blogs, etc). This also gives them the opportunity to use RSS aggregators like bloglines or NetVibes as a means to centralize blog information and provide one web page to open to read the posts of blog subscriptions).

    Finally, I completely agree with you on the ethics/safety issues. Working with students and blogs affords us the opportunity to have in context conversation surrounding ethics, etiquette, etc. I think we're more likely to engage our students when we use the tools in context. So many of the internet safety type of presentations that I have given with students over the past few years are out of context. Give this, I don't think the impact has been as strong.

    Thanks for leaving such a thoughtful comment. I think you should cut and paste this into your blog as a post-good stuff here.