Blogs and Learning

I really did not know that the earliest blogs were started in 1996-1997.  I have really only heard about blogs, or maybe just started to pay attention is the better choice of words here, in the last 4 years or so.  I really didn’t start getting too bothered about them myself until last year when I started following a few food blogs – courtesy of Foodgawker a site that catalogs photos of food that then links to the recipes on blog sites.  Before that the only blogs I’d seen were random rants that didn’t seem to have any point or usefulness in my opinion.

So I do enjoy the food blogs and I’ve gotten many new recipes this way but it has only been since starting this course that I have started thinking about blogs for educational purposes.  I read something the other week in one of the John Seeley Brown articles about children blogging their writing assignments and putting forth much more effort because they knew someone else would be seeing their work besides their teachers.  That really stuck with me.  My mother-in-law and I were talking about the benefits a few nights ago and I was actually a little disappointed when she told me she didn’t have time to try and implement something like that.  I really see the value in children using a blog to express themselves.

I found a blog with 350 links to educational blogs so I decided to look around at them for this assignment.

Student Blog –
The blog that I found was from a 9 year old girl.  Her most recent post was about poems.  Her teacher gave her a fun poem book and she had several mentioned that she really liked.  Her post ended with a video of herself reciting a poem.

I think this is a great example of using blogs for learning.  She learned a poem and recited in front of a video camera.  What an excellent way to enhance public speaking skills as well as learning poetry and writing.  She also mentioned her blogger friends and I think it was a pen pal over a blog.  This is a great way to make friends in other locations or cultures and the chance to start a lifelong friendship.

This blog was an open ended student blog but for a 9 year old her posts were well-written and reflective in my opinion.

Teacher Blog –
No Sleep Til Summer was a teacher blog that I chose to click on.  The title was interesting so I clicked.  The second post was about a Florida school board member that took the state’s standardized test – and failed.  It was an interesting Washington Post article that I might not have read had I not seen it posted somewhere.  Next I clicked on a blog from the blogroll, for the love of learning and this blog had a post about using Angry Birds in the Classroom – of course I had to click on it.  It was interesting and the project that was done was great.  This blog had links to thoughts on abolishing grading and homework two things that are of interest to me.  So with each of these blogs when I have additional time, I will try and go back and see who else is on their blogroll, because chances are, if I liked their blog then I would probably appreciate the links to blogs that they liked.

These blogs while they reflected on their classrooms or educational topics really were about the teacher’s opinions on subjects that interested them.  They were both interesting to read.

What do you see as the role of blogs for learning as integrated in formal learning environments?
They are a place to improve writing, communication methods, and they can be used for collaboration with others such as a blog pen pal.  As from my example above they can even be used to help with public speaking.

What do you see as the role of blogs when self-initiated and informal especially in the context of learning?
I appreciate the ability to go out on the Internet and look at a blog to learn a recipe, how to paint furniture, or even to learn how to make furniture from scratch.  While these blogs are informal they are often helpful in teaching things and mostly they teach with step-by-step pictures and well thought out tutorials.

What do you see as the most important aspects to consider in using blogs for learning?
Planning and consistency.  Teachers need to plan out how they are going to use blogs and what they want the students to accomplish in using them for learning.  They also need to be consistent and have the students write in their blogs often.  If they get into the habit of writing and reflecting on their blogs then maybe the students will keep writing after the assignments and the class are over. I came across a lot of blogs that were only obviously used for the semester/year and then left abandoned after that.

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