One of the earliest edbloggers is Peter Ford who, with Adam Curry, started schoolblogs a long, long time ago, at least in blog years. Today, Peter has a great post about the state of the edblogosphere and the changes it’s undergoing:
Weblogs have had great impact so far because they have an inherent flexibility that allow teachers and students to explore, create and find solutions on their own terms. Software that imposes limits on teachers’ ability to teach will stifle creativity in the end. That for me, is where the present danger lies. Big corporations will start producing their blogsafe walled-gardens for schools to use. Districts and LEAs will love them, and pay handsomely for them but their very blogsafe and inflexible nature will drain them of their enabling power, adding just another demand on teachers in the classroom.
As we work our way through the current very legitimate concerns about blogging in the schoolplace, there’s no doubt there will be vendors that will try to capitalize on the current unsettled feelings that many districts are having. There are open source solutions that are would seem to satisfy most concerns, but I think that most districts don’t have the comfort level or the knowledge to effect them and that in the end, they’d rather pay to play.
Much of the power of blogs lies in the openness of blogs. Outside of school, they are a critical part in the open content movement that is expanding at a pretty amazing pace. That’s another whole issue that schools are going to have to get straight with, one that I myself grapple with to some extent. Freely sharing ideas and knowledge leads to more ideas and knowledge than not doing so. It’s not as neat and tidy as current solutions (textbooks), but it’s more valuable, if we know how to deal with it.
For connective learning to work, we have to be able to access and build networks around the knowledge that’s relevant. Teachers have to be able to create their own networks and model the learning process for their students. That’s what open blogging facilitates. Using blogs in closed environments may have some benefit, but as Peter says it won’t enable the true promise of tool.