I’ve been playing around with Google Reader and just noticed an interesting thread between the first two posts that I shared to my public page. First, David Weinberger:
I came away realizing why media literacy programs often bother me. Frequently, the idea even is that we have to teach our children how to recognize the Internet sites that are as reliable and safe as what they’ll find in a library. That’s a useful skill, but the overall picture is wrong. If you want to know what’s going on in a field, the static and credentialed sources generally aren’t where you want to go. The credentialed sources are great for certain types of informationâ€”the solid and stolid facts, the commoditized information, the boring truthâ€”but the real intellectual action is usually occurring in the blogs, newsletters, and forums. Confining students to the credentialed sites is likely to kill their interest and enthusiasm. [Emphasis mine.]
And then, from Alex Reid:
In any case, I will say this about research and blogging. When I read scholarship I encounter ideas that I find interesting and thought-provoking. However, if I were going to think about what I teach in my courses, much of the valuable information I rely on comes from blogs, and not only from academic blogs. If I want to know what teachers in new media were doing a year ago, I guess I could read a journal. If I want to know what people are doing now, what new developments are emerging, what is working and what isn’t, I would look at blogs. Wouldn’t you? [Emphasis mine.]
Wouldn’t it be interesting to see this conversation develop more fully on the K-12 level as well? What if we stopped blocking blogs and implicitly telling students that they aren’t reliable and instead start making them a part of our daily classroom practice? What if, as Joyce Valenza‘s matrix suggests, we start teaching our students to make good decisions about the content they encounter, to be effective editors? What if we modeled for them how to engage in the ideas instead of just consuming them?
technorati tags:reserach, blogging, education, learning, literacy
Tom Hoffman says
What if, instead of asking a bunch of rhetorical questions, you pressed your point a bit more? Could it be that a lot of what passes for internet literacy instruction is flat out wrong?
I’ve just spent some time working with students who used blogs to discuss important issues. My thesis analyzed their thinking and I’ve posted part one and two online. My blog up until now has just been a posting of links for other teachers but I’ve decided to take the plunge and join in a few discussions since I’m a social constructivist at heart. I look forward to your thoughts about the work posted. More to come later.
Tom Hemingway says
I guess this depends in part on whether you’re focusing on knowing the corpus of a discipline (e.g. chemistry), or on doing the practice of that discipline (e.g. “doing” chemistry), which includes participation in a community of practice. Blogs and such aside, the more fundamental question is, are you teaching your students to document knowledge or create it?
Nate Stearns says
I’m a little surprised at the elevating of blogs to such a status. The signal to noise ratio on blogs is so high as to make their use for the classroom very difficult. A few years ago I had students accessing war blogs from soldiers, Iraqis, and media people and it worked…as long as I gave them a bunch of time to play with it. The information that they were able to get was ridiculously current, interesting, and powerful; it was also filled with profanity and posts about puppies and kitties. Currently, I’m planning a unit on Dante’s Inferno and would love to use blogs or wikis to come up with something collaborative but am a bit stymied as to how to make it work in the context of analyzing a difficult work like Inferno.
The scientific process involves gathering information from a variety of sources and drawing conclusions based on a number of factors (plausibility, validity, precision, etc). Blogs should not be excluded from this analysis. Edicts should not be issued declaring sites “reliable” or “unreliable”, there is too much in between. Teach students the skills to become editors and eventually they will find mistakes in those “reliable” sites.