General thoughts on blogging in the classroom
When I was in High School (I graduated in 2006) working with computers in class meant the following: We would hardly even work with any. On the rare occasions we did use them, we would hang around in front of the screens, with no clear purpose, surfing on the Internet, bored to death and going crazy. At that time I did not even know the term “blog.
Obviously, something completely different is possible today, and could have been back then. The first blogs spread in the late 1990s, gaining mainstream popularity only in the early and mid-2000s. “Already” in 2005, Will Richardson showed the great potential of technology like blogs for the classroom. In his article “New Jersey High School learns the ABCs of blogging: Weblogs can create online forums for classroom discussion, and build student skills,” he shows that this ground-breaking technology could and should be used in class. Blogs excite students because—if used properly—they get a “sense of audience,” as Richardson puts it, and they are motivated to read closely and think deeply about what they are writing. In addition, blogs are very useful because students can “post homework, create a portfolio, archive peer feedback,” etc. Another thing that sounds really great about this concept is the possibility to have “experts” and other sorts of “outsiders” attend class discussions, which could really enrich students’ and teachers’ life.
Blogging and the teaching of literature
When it comes to teaching literature this “new” technology can be easily applied. As Sara B. Kajder states in the chapter “Making Meaning” in Bringing the Outside In: Visual Ways to Engage Reluctant Readers, blogs can help students create meaning in literary texts. They represent good tools to help students “organize content” and “construct meaning.” Basically, some of the established concepts can be transferred to the new genre. This could happen, e.g., via a character journal, which means students try to write something, e.g. a diary, from the perspective of a character, an “open mind strategy,” having students visualize (parts of) the text, or graphic notes, like digital stories or audio blog posts. In general, all these new forms of expressing oneself encourage students to reread more often and to discuss. Questions that can arise in such discussion are, e.g., “How do images represent words?” or “How can a writer’s words evoke different images to different readers?” Another big advantage, in this context, is that students can respond to each other’s blog posts easily and fast. Classroom discussion thus does not have to be limited to the “actual” classroom anymore.
It seems like the idea of introducing blogs to class is the right way to meet students’ expectations of future teaching and learning. So: Blogging in class = good. Right?
Consider the following questions when responding to this blog post.
If you don’t share my unlimited optimism: What negative aspects of blogging in class can you think about?
Aren't ideas like inviting experts to class discussions a bit unrealistic?
Which of the concepts of teaching literature introduced by the text (e.g. “two-minute movies”) would you use in your own classes, which not? Why/why not?
What do you think are necessary conditions/requirements that blogging as a teaching tool works? Consider didactic, disciplinary, monetary, and other aspects.
What experiences did you have with blogs in school?