To Blog or Not to Blog
I believe in the potential power of blogging. I believe it can be harnessed to be a powerful pedagogical tool in the 21st Century.
It is not just a technology tool that can facilitate teaching and learning, it is also a thread that has the ability to weave together cross-curricular literacies, disciplinary thinking and assessment strategies. This is all in theory however, and more research is still needed to supports these claims of what blogging can do.
The literacy skills that students need in today’s world has been influenced by 21st Century Technologies. The opportunities to communicate, share and obtain information with technology to this magnitude has never been possible before. As a result, it has never been more important for students to learn how to critically analyse and integrate new digital literacies into learning. This includes the use of texts, multimedia, and other forms of social media.
The active use of blogging can help to tie in important information that has been salient for us, and allows us to integrated it into our own previous learning. When we add our reflections, and post, it opens up networks for collaboration, communication, thoughtful inquiry and as a result it consolidates new knowledge bases for us.
4 Benefits of Integrating Blogging into Pedagogy
1. Blogs promote participation and collaboration of knowledge and skills. There are a myriad of resources available on the internet that can help students become creators, and not merely consumers of different texts and bodies of knowledge.
2. Blogs promote global communication and collaboration. Teachers can facilitate interactions with diverse cultures, ethnicities, and religions, and social contexts. Students can be helped to challenging their thinking by considering other viewpoints.
3. Blogs promote the critical analysis of pedagogy and literacies.
4. Blogs create the potential for interactive spaces for authentic exchanges. Strategies including reading logs, book reviews, parental communication, encouraging reading and writing and responding around a particular theme or focus.
If we can harness this power, we have a strong pedagogical tool on our hands. As with other areas in education, we can begin to harness this power by asking ourselves the right kinds of questions that can bring about the results we want to see.
Asking the Right Questions:
With regards to blogging, I have found that our questions and inquiries can be honed in further to promote increased success. We often ask about how we can share our work with other audiences. However, I think we can take our questions further to ask about how can we share our work with other audiences, and how we can support accountable talk. Accountable talk is an essential practice that promotes success.
Another possible question is, how can we support effective peer assessment through blogging and commenting on the blogs of our peers? Feedback and Assessment are other key areas that if effective, promote student success to greater levels.
Yet another question we could ask is, how can we obtain new readership, we can ask: How can we use our blog as a portfolio to demonstrate how our thinking changes over the course of a school year?
Other questions can include:
- How can a blog promote Digital Citizenship?
- How can blogging support communication outside of the 4 walls of our classroom, thus opening up opportunities for new perspectives and cultural knowledge?
- How can we harness the power of our own learning and evolve that learning through dialogue with others?
- How can we grow our learning beyond ourselves and begin to build knowledge with others?
The answers to these questions are not simple at all. They are complex and multi-layered, dependent upon context among other variables. As are all learning pedagogies and paradigms.
Where the tool is not successful is when we ask the wrong questions, we inadvertently use the tools to support something different than student learning. The following are some considerations we can make to help us think about our own questions.
Considerations for Educators:
1. Ensure that how we integrate technology into the classroom is not merely fostering superficial learning, or ‘busy work’.
2. Ensure that you are not overwhelming some, or all of your students before they are ready. This is a year-long process, that should be taught, modelled, and prompted throughout each term.
3. Ensure that classroom blogging is a ‘shared’ commitment among students.
4. Ensure that you are continually helping students to raise important issues for critical awareness.
5. Ensure that you are allowing students to critically evaluate, compare and contrast, varying types of texts throughout your programming, including internet, video, social media, and not merely textbooks.
6. Work with students to continually create success criteria, create rubrics that outline specific details, and allow students to engage in self-assessment and peer-assessments.
7. Always question what you are doing, and whether it is working for your students. Make changes as often as necessary!
8. Technology may or may not be used within the home, so use this form of communication with caution. We must use it in ways that support our families and students, not alienate them.
Basically, understand what you are doing and why you are doing it. This goes for any educational practice, and not just blogging. Ask the right questions to help steer your learning and the learning of your students toward the practices that promote the greatest success!
If you are considering adding a blog to your practice, feel free to get in touch! Let’s collaborate! http://bigideasineducation.ca