My brain is still lodged in “how to bring blogging as genre to the classroom in a meaningful, writing-centered way” mode. As I’ve said before, I think there are many characteristics of Weblog writing that potentially make it a valuable addition to the curriculum in a number of subjects.
The most obvious to me is in the area of research. The ability to use hypertext to link to sources is a huge advantage to student and teacher alike in that it makes it pretty easy to check on a student’s understanding of citation, quote or paraphrase, among other things. I think the ease with which linked sources can be accessed also inherently makes for a more careful use of those sources by the student.
Now I know blogging is more first-person, more casual by nature than formal research writing. But one essential skill that consistent bloggers develop is the ability to read critically in preparation to write critically. I’m hearing Jay Rosen yet again: readers becoming writers, completing the transaction of ideas and extending the conversation. Certainly, the best essayists are those that can draw from a variety of sources and bring them together into some coherent, more complete understanding of the subject. Ditto the best bloggers, like Doc Searles, whose post today on the media and politics is a great example. He has obviously taken the time to read a variety of authors, done some meaningful thinking about what he has read, and used it to fashion his own interpretation and ideas. Isn’t that what we want our students to do?
It ties in with another area that really interests me: media literacy. I think Weblogs could be an outstanding tool for teaching kids to observe, think about and then deconstruct the media they are exposed to. And as this pretty interesting article in Technology Review notes, “Media literacy education must be integrated into our curriculum from kindergarten through college. But to succeed, educators need to update and rethink the assumptions shaping many existing media literacy programs.” I think there’s a need for blogging in there somewhere. More thinking on this later, I’m sure, but I see a proposal coming into view…