The Phenomenon that is Blogging
Several weeks ago, I was interviewed via skype by some teachers from Kerala, India about the reasons for blogging. My friend, Sebastian Panakal setup this videoconference. That same day I caught up on my overdue reading of the Edublogger and noticed this post on Help Student Answer Questions on Blogging. Here is my response to the questions posed in that post.
How long have you been blogging with your students?
I started blogging with students in 2007 – 5 years ago. At this time it was relatively new in schools. There was much fear in educational circles, leadership teams and parents about the potential consequences of public sharing. However, I had been awarded a small grant to pursue podcasting and one of the conditions of that grant were to use of web2.0 tools. Blogging sounded interesting and what better way to document our e-Journey.
At the same time, the Victorian Education Department had purchased an edublogs campus. We registered and soon my students and I started blogging with Heather Blakey a professional blogger from Soul Food Cafe as my great mentor. We set up teacher, student and class blogs. Since then, this campus has become global2
How has the educational experience for your students been transformed since you’ve been blogging with them?
Blogging has transformed teaching and learning for me. There is an authentic audience – a global audience – one that is willing to connect, share, challenge, discuss and communicate with us. This audience can provide further information, opinions, suggest resources, seek answers to questions etc which pushes the blogging further. Blogging develops a learning network. Exercise books etc need not be pushed and crumpled in school lockers only to be placed in the rubbish bins at the end of the school year, but student work is out there for their school lives. Students take pride in having an online space and attempt to keep work accurate and pleasing to the eye. It extends their learning beyond the classrooms and increases their exposure to other teachers across the globe eg the Student Blogging Challenge, Flat Classroom Projects. It gives an insight into the complexity of the students – their likes, dislikes, what they do outside school etc. I have got to know and understand students better by reading their posts. Students are no longer confined to their class groupings or teachers within a classroom.
Do you believe that blogs have benefited the education system?
Blogs are of high benefit to the education system. Blogs:
- are personalized and customized online spaces and a source of pride.
- enable a full range of media to be used catering for the diversity of student learning styles.
- are a necessary 21st century digital skill and teaches many digital literacy skills
- can be used to learn in a practical manner the following:- cyber safety, netiquette and digital citizenship
- provide an online space for further interaction, conversations, connection and communication with others from across the globe.
- become a digital portfolio with all their associated benefits. See Skippy, Rachael, Allanah, Kirsty as examples
- extends learning to anywhere and any time to ie 24/7, supporting a flipped classroom approach
- facilitates a network that is global
Do you believe that blogs will become a common way of educating people in the future?
As the uptake of technology and online tools increase, blogging will become of increasing importance but how common they will become for educating people is uncertain as MOOCs, tools such as mightybell, learning management systems eg moodle take on greater uptake. I personally believe that blogging will play a crucial role in the next decade at least.
Why has the way of teaching through technology grown dramatically?
- It caters for a wide range of learning abilities and introduces a range of media that give added impact eg the use of video tutorials as compared to text, using images/cartoons instead of chunks of text for those who struggle with literacy.
- if a student is struggling with learning from their own classroom teacher, they can find other educators or resources online to help them with their understanding See An uprising of learning at the grass roots.
- technology allows learning to become accessible from any region – the remotest areas of earth, isolated rural and outback areas, hospitals, cross countries etc
- learning becomes efficient eg teacher professional development can be undertaken without the cost of travel, accommodation, hire of buildings etc.
- networking is enabled on a global scale and the collective ideas, resources,established or innovative units of teaching/learning, experiences from a combined ‘global brain’ that will push the learning and teaching to more powerful levels.
- But most of all – it just makes sense. Our students use technology constantly outside school, so why shouldn’t we tap into that teachnology for learning within and beyond the classroom.
What is your opinion of blogging? Has it transformed learning?
I am passionate about blogging. It has transformed learning for me and my classes.