The idea that introducing technology inside the class can be motivating for students, is not new. Time ago, the use of video for educational purposes was a great challenge whereas now it seems that blogs, among other resources web 2.0, are on the spot. The results of such initiatives are difficult to evaluate. Here and there is easy to find articles claiming the advantages of the use of new technologies in education.
In Pembina Trails School Division website, there are some ideas extracted from different online sources about the use of blogs in education. Briefly, we could say that using blogs can be a good way of promoting equally participation, visualizing the learning process, stimulating debate outside the class walls as well as providing resources related with the course contents, among many other aspects.
However, is it essential the use of blogs to reach that goals? Or, in other words, does the use of blogs in class guarantee some of the mentioned objectives such as the equally participation of students in debates? Personally, I feel that, even the use of a certain technology has some implicit meaning, it isn’t enough to guarantee success. Related to this, it is interesting to have a look at Julie Sturgeon’s article Five Don’ts of Classroom Blogging. Despite my differences with some of her suggestions, I consider it’s interesting to think about how you, as a teacher, are going to encourage your students to use blogs in a way that helps achieving the objectives you have previously set up. Another interesting aspect of this article has to due with limits. From my point of view, school has to help students to understand and face the world in where they live, not to protect them against it, that’s why I consider some of her advices can be too protectionist. However, it is also true that, as far as you are dealing with minors, special attention has to be paid to certain aspects. Anyway, I wouldn’t support the use, and need, of special applications for the educational context. If the school has enough resources to pay for them it is ok, but if not, I don’t see anything bad in using free online tools.
Coming back to the question “why using blogs in education?”, I would consider that despite praises, we should be more skeptical. From my point of view, many of the benefits attributed to blogs aren’t so exclusively and could be achived by other means (more traditional and therefore, not so fashionable as blogs). However, something I consider quite interesting about the use of blogs in education is their contribution to knowledge construction. Related to this, I would strongly reccomend to read Richard E. Ferdig and Kaye D. Trammell article Content Delivery in the “Blogosphere”. Among many other ideas, they highlight the importance of publishing students’ work and content productions. As they underline, special attenntion has to be paid to hyperlinks and feeback.
And because blogs can be commented on, they provide opportunities for feedback and potential scaffolding of new ideas. Blogs also feature hyperlinks, which help students begin to understand the relational and contextual basis of knowledge, knowledge construction and meaning making.
According to the authors, the use of blogs in education can be a powerful way of applying a constructivist pedagogy. At this point, is where I stop questioning and I copy paste the following question which names Stephen Downes’ article Should All Learning Professionals Be Blogging?