Weblogs in Education
What is a Blog?
The word blog is shortened from the word "weblog." It is often inaccurately described as an online diary that is subscribable, organized in categories, and displayed in reverse chronological order.
A blog is similar to an empty book, it is how we use the book that turns it into something. This book can be anything we want it to be from a sketchbook, a diary, a dictionary or writing portfolio it depends on the content that we put into this book.
Blogs offer the ability to archive content that is posted by date. The commenting feature of blogs allow for immediate feedback on a posting. The content that can be posted to a blog can be text, images, files, audio and video. Publishing postings to an intranet or the internet can by done quickly and easily.
General Ideas Around Blogs
- use blogs for real-world writing experiences
- prolong discussions outside the classroom or for question and answer
- easily include discussions with authors or guest speakers
- quickly give feedback to students, and students to each other (no stacks of paper)
- track student writing development
- encouraging students to help each other with their writing
- create a classroom newsletter by using a multi-user blog for the different topics. I.E. classroom trips, sports, upcoming trips …
- create a school website with sections that can be easily updated
- students using peer networks to develop their own knowledge
- update new information such as homework and assignments
There is a debate with regards to publishing control and blogging with students. Many educators in the K-12 realm seem to use a process where by student posts and comments go through an approval process before being posted to the World Wide Web. A variety of blogging environments have been developed to encourage this sort of monitoring, some examples are Blogmiester and Ontario Blogs.
Other educators allow students to maintain their own individual blogs for classroom use with the caveat that students follow guidelines in order to keep their blogs part of classroom discussion.
Use Blog Comments
If students have there own blogs, the commenting feature makes it easy for students to comment on each other’s work and share thoughts and ideas with each other. Encourage students to comment on each others’ work offering critique, suggestions for direction and encouragement. Students who are shy in class often “come out of their shells” online. onlinelso excellent practice for real world collaborations. If you are starting out with a class blog you might try having students respond to your posts, rather than each student doing their own blog.
Some blogs offer a multiple author feature which allows students to work together on a single project. All the postings are aggregated in a central area, but each student can contribute to this main space or comment on another students work.
You can use comments to help guide the conversations that are occurring in your classroom blogs, as well encourage students to reflect a bit deeper about the posts that they are reading. Educators play an important role in modeling the types of comments that they would like to see students include on the classroom blogs. Moving past the role of teacher but one of reader and guide.
Types of expressive comments might include:
personal interpretations and reinterpretations expressing concern regarding a confusion of meaning personal connections to events, people, places or mood comparisons to other work by the same blogger comparison to other posts elsewhere predictions developed from the post (Notice how comments about sentence structure, spelling and grammar are purposely left out)
Blogging Rules and Guidelines
Hopefully school and school district "Acceptable Use Policies" will be able to inform school and educator developed blogging policies and guidelines as they are developed.
In general a district blogging policy should cover issues related to student identity on the World Wide Web, in order to prevent students from including specific identifying information in classroom blogs, such as full names, photos and emails. A district blogging policy should also include guidelines for posting information on a blog that is inappropriate, inaccurate or where postings may bully another student.
On a classroom level there are a few good examples of blogging policies that have already been developed, as well as a blogging code of ethics. It is a good practice to develop the rules and guidelines for your blog with your students. As in a traditional classroom, students are more likely to abide by rules that they have developed than ones imposed on them.
Blogging Workshops and Videos
There are many self-paced blogging workshops that will help you explore the pedagogy behind blogging, as well as guide you through creating a blog. These are a few that will help get you started blogging.
* Blog Workshop by Dean Shareski * Blogs, Podcasts, Wiki's & Screencasts presentation by Sue Lister * Blogging In Wordpress ISD Technology presentation
* Weblogs in Education Video, from Will Richardson (time: 2:28) * Telling the New Story from Dean Shareski (time: 8:00)
* Edublogs - Video Tutorial(Good for any WordPress blog)
School and Classroom Communication
Assessment and Evaluation Resources
Educational Blogging by Stephen Downes (EDUCAUSE Review, September/October 2004)