Saturday, November 19, 2005

Blogging: Class Blogs: Giving Students a Public Voice

Bernie Heidkamp

Bernie Heidkamp presented some interesting ideas about blogs and blogging. He believes that blogs are not ready to replace the four walled classroom, but they do reveal some limitations of the real classroom. Blogs are available after class is finished and allows students to interact with structure and thought time built in. An advantage of blogs is that people can post to the internet without having technical knowledge of programming, so it is quick, easy and current. The shy student may be more comfortable in a written format, but still has the opportunity to interact. Blogs allow for linking to other content on the intenet, which expands the conversation beyond the classroom even more. It is a public voice, so students have a larger audience and may influence students to see themselves more as readers and writers. Blogs are searchable by Google

However, blogs should not take the place of writing instruction and other forms of writing – it is an extension and different style. Compared to an oral conversation, blogs are stronger because students have the opportunity to think, provide more support for their arguments, and revise their ideas before posting.

According to the PEW Internet and American Life Project 57% of teenagers are online, 19% create their own blogs, and 38% read blog. Blogger are more likely to create other online material.

One of the most popular blogs is “Talking Points Memo” by Joshua Micah Marshall. It is a blog about the political scene in Washington, DC by an insider.

In Bernie's classroom, blogging is used as part of the participation grade.

Amy Majorawitz

Amy use blogs for several reasons. First, her school has a laptop program, so there is a strong push to use technology. She feels blogs help create a community between students and teachers. She gets to know her students better. Finally, she also believes blogging helps students find their voice.

In her experience, Amy found that students loved to blog. The traditional journal is written for the teacher so students usually said what was expected. She also found that students discussed ideas and issues that they might not otherwise express. The comments were supportive and helpful. She saw students using this space to work through their personal problems. She has two basic rules: 1) No names or personal information 2) No rants or belittling others. Based on her goals for the blog, Amy excepts informal, email-style language. Students receive participation points for thoughtful comments.

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