You don’t understand the value of blogging until you start blogging yourself. Lois Smethurst ‘RU Connected #70’

After sharing a few thoughts about Global2 and student blogging, I was asked about my experiences within the classroom. Here then are some of my reflections so far:

POSITIVES

Collection of Learning: Blogging provides a means for students to publish to more than just the teacher, it allows them to share with a wider audience. This can include everything from text, images, videos and audio records. See Sue Waters description of what you can embed for more information. The audience for the blog depends upon what settings chosen during setup. Although I have mine set to the students within the blog, I am always reminded of Steve Wheeler’s argument that, “having a private blog is like going to a party with a paper bag over your head.”

Student Engagement: Not only does openly sharing work provide for a wider audience, it allows for a different sense of engagement. Whereas discussions are usually restricted, publishing to a blog provides a means of “broadening the perspective of the conversation with authentic audiences from around the world.” This is one of the points Alan November makes in his discussion of transformational learning.

Appreciation of Digital Media: Often when students compose writing they have little appreciation for context. Publishing texts digitally provides for an appreciation of the constructive and creative aspects of digital media. For example, what colours, images and theme is appropriate for the content of the blog?

MINUSES

Administration: One of the challenges with every digital medium is that they always require some sort of support. This can include resetting passwords, maintaining email accounts and setting up blogs. With limited class time, such administration can be a frustrating hurdle.

Expectations: The ability to check student’s posts before they are made live is both a strength and a weakness. It is fantastic, because it provides a level of security and safety for students, teachers and parents. However, in today’s day and age of social media and instant messaging, when you have not reviewed students work to check if it is appropriate to be published, they get annoyed quickly.

Silver Bullets: There is a danger of introducing technology as some sort of panacea and then being faced with the situation where you are left wondering why it did not work. Although technology enables new possibilities, it only ever “amplifies whatever pedagogical capacity is already there.”

IMPROVEMENTS

Be Patient: One of the dangers when introducing any tool or strategy is that we expect dividends from the start. This is often not the case. One of the reasons for this is that they required certain habits to become ingrained, before their full potential can be met. In regards to technology, Gary Stager talks about it becoming boring so that we can use it to focus on the real issue, learning.

Start with Why: Before you introduce blogging into the classroom, you need to think about why you might be blogging. If you want students to interact with each other to provide feedback, then everyone writing a review on the same book or account on the same concept is not really going to work. Blogging is an ideal platform for the creativity and self expression. See for example Anthony Speranza’s use of a class blog to showcase student projects.

Tinker: Although you can read the posts I have shared or even Celia Coffa’s excellent unpacking, I think that the best way to learn about blogging is by tinkering. Start a personal blog. Explore, wonder, experiment.


So what about you, what are your experiences? What questions still remain? As always, questions welcome.


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flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

One of the biggest challenges in regards to digital literacies is who is telling your story? It can be argued that if we don’t take ownership of your own narrative, then someone will tell it for us. This is what is meant when people ask whether you have Googled yourself. Doug Belshaw talks about being mindful of the way in which tools shape the way we think and interact, I feel that we also need to be mindful of the way in which they tell also tell our stories for us.

One way in which we tell our story is by curating it. Heather Bailie suggests that in regards to digital literacies our focus has moved from the traditional idea of read, write and react, to a focus on being able to create, curate and contemplate. Often we talk about social bookmarking as a means for curating content and ideas. This could include sharing links to a digital magazine, like Flipboard, or adding to an online repository, such as Diigo. However, such collections have their limits. Although they may provide a means for communicating and commenting, they are often best considered as a resource you can mine at a later date. For a more extensive discussion of curation, see Sue Waters post.

A different means of telling your story is through blogging. As a medium, blogging offers so many different possibilities. Maybe you want to reflect upon things. Maybe you have media you want to share, more often than not you can simply embed it. Maybe you don’t like the structure and layout of the platform, then go find another one, there are enough. The reality is the possibilities with blogging are limitless and often only confined by your imagination. For example, a relatively new open sourced platform that I have started exploring is Known. I think that it offers something in-between twitter and long form blogging in my own space.

A medium which is a bit different to traditional blogging, but offering the same creative potential, is Storify. Designed to help make sense of what people post on social media. Not only does it provide the means to curate information from different platforms and places, but it also provides the means to fill in the story. Some of the different curations I have seen include:

Although you can search for content within Storify, the tendency is to use hashtags to collect ideas and information. You can then either share the Storify product or embed it within a blog.

For a short guide to curating a story with Storify, watch the following video:

So what about you, what are the ways that you are telling your story? I would love to know.

 


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