Anne summarises the attributes of blogging that most enable educators to improve their strategies to facilitate learning.
Audience & Comments: Having a worldwide audience who can read what students write brings forth recognition for students that can be quite profound. Students are used to the teacher being the only audience for their work. The realization that others think that what they have to say is important is empowering. They are amazed. I recall one student whose highlight for the year was having a high school student say that his writing made a difference. In another scenario I had a group of elementary students who were concerned that their writing would not be good enough for a group of high school students who were reading their blogs. It’s not that they didn’t want to try but what was important to them is that their writing be good in the eyes of their audience. We cannot create that with an audience of one.
Voice: Blogging can give students a totally new perspective on the meaning of voice. They can explore their own learning and thinking and their distinctive voices emerge. Student voices are essential to the conversations we need to have about learning. Blogs give students a place for that voice to be heard by many. Many students that would be hesitant to speak in a classroom will share their ideas on a blog.
Conversations & Dialogue: The dialogue that goes on in our classrooms about our learning through blogging is the key to getting conversations and then postings that promote critical thought by students. Here the teacher is the catalyst for helping develop an atmosphere that encourages and respects the learner and their ideas. Ideas have to be nurtured, explored and discussed. Blogs put us on a learning path together with our students where we can shape new learning environments for the future. Blogs also offer incredible opportunities for dialogue and the social construction of meaning.
Ownership & Choices: Blogs help lead us away from students from seeking to find what the teacher wants in terms of an answer. Students feel more compelled to write when they believe many others may read and respond. They want to do better. Giving students a choice in making their own connections about their learning on blogs paves the way for blogs to be constructivist tools for learning. These attributes are compelling and powerful motivators that help us shape the pedagogy.
Archives: Having records of the learning that is ongoing facilitates learning and evaluation in a much easier and efficient matter. One student put it to me that he could easily find his thoughts on a matter and he could see how his thinking had changed and why. This lets us approach evaluation in reflective ways.