I spelled out my blogging expectations to my Journalism 2 students yesterday. I drew somewhat from “Blogging for Learning” done by Richard Effland at Maricopa. His concept is to “build an ‘idea’ base and then reflect upon that in terms of what they feel they are learning.” He goes on to build in a collaborative group aspect to the process as well. I like this idea as well: “The Blogs are a means to establish a ‘data base’ for ideas and build upon these a series of higher level reflections all directed at channeling ideas into a recognition of what is being learned.”
I think this is a nice step forward. Seems that Richard is piloting this concept of learning logs for the college, and that the question he wants to answer is whether or not students believe Weblogs enhance their learning. I’d imagine that if that study proves positive, there would be a good deal of support for giving students Weblogs where they could capture and reflect and build upon the learning they do in all areas of the curriculum. (That’s a pretty mind-boggling concept, isn’t it? Think of the connecting we could ask our students to do…)
I framed it a bit differently with my students, though the concept of learning log is something I am emphasizing with them as well. I’m really interested in the “blogging as genre” aspect of this, so I’m asking them to really focus on the connections that they can make with the information they are gathering. This includes finding a deeper meaning to relevant personal experience that may tie into their topics. For instance, Claire wants to write a story about what it’s like for gay high school students who are taught a basically heterosexual sex ed curriculum. Where do they get their answers? What effect does this have? I would expect that in her Weblog, as she collects articles and research and interviews, that she would also bring in her personal observations and experiences with her gay friends, and that her blogging would reflect her own struggle with understanding the topic. If she can do that, if she can more consciously build on what she already knows and synthesize that to push her even furher forward, it would be very cool.
I keep thinking that if I frame it correctly, if I keep pushing them to examine their blogging in the context of their learning that the Weblog will reveal itself as a tool where learning is not only recorded but where it evolves. That whole meta-cognitive aspect that we basically ignore could really flourish in a Weblog. Maybe…