It’s been interesting reading the threads that have developed around my “To Blog or Not to Blog…” post from a couple of days ago. The comments on the post itself were pretty amazing in their own right, but the extended conversations were equally thought provoking. Chris Sessums, Barbara Ganley, Vicki Davis, Bud Hunt and many others blogged about it, and I’ve been trying to tap into my own reaction as to what they and their respective commentors have been saying. It’s a great example of the messy, distributed nature of the Web these days, and ironically, I think, an example of why many people might find it frustrating.
What strikes me about all of this is the level of engagement of the participants. All of these teacher-bloggers on some level felt compelled to enter the conversation, to take the time to do some deep thinking, obviously, and articulate those thoughts in a post to share with others. Some came here first, then followed up with posts on their own sites. Some just felt compelled to comment on one or many of these posts. There is the palpable energy of a community of learners who are connecting around questions and answers to better understand their own practice and then share back that understanding with the community to further the conversation. And that investment of time and energy, I think, deepens my trust in the community as a place where I can come to ask about what I don’t understand or what I want to learn more about. It is, for me a powerful occurence, one that does not happen with such consistency in my physical space.
I know as a parent, I hope my own children will find the same level of passion that I have about whatever it is they might be interested in. It’s only natural, I think, that an educator who feels the power of that engagement would want to share that experience with his or her students. I love the way Barbara articulates this in her comments here:
Not all of us will be fabulous bloggers, or oral presenters, or readers, or emotionally intuitive. But if each of us will bring our own expertise to give to the others, we will be engaged–our learning will be efficacious.
And that is the most important part of all of this, this question of how do we get our kids engaged? How can we get them to be motivated to learn? And, since these tools seem to be working for us, how can we use them as vehicles, conduits for students to tap into their own passions? And how do we get other teachers to at least consider them?
Not every student needs a blog or a podcast or a wiki to be engaged, I understand that. Blogs and podcasts and the audiences they facilitate will not engage every child. But are we not at the point where we can honestly say that the learning potential of these tools is such that every teacher should have them as a part of his or her toolbox?
Nadine Norris says
I also like what Barbara said,and it hit home with me. I’m rather intimidated by blogging. One kind of feels vulnerable at first…putting thoughts, knowledge, and opinions out there for everyone to read and respond to. I think reading blogs for example, can be the first level of engagement. I read alot. I read everything Will has to say :), but I don’t write alot. My personal experience with student bloggers in an educational blogging setting is very positive. The fact is that the more response they get from others, the more motivated they are to write. It’s the conversation that keeps you writing. I really appreciate how respectful and interesting the conversation between students as young as 12 can be. They are great models for teachers like me, who is just packing this into their toolbox.
Joan Vinall-Cox says
My response is a quote from the Community Blog for my 3rd year course in oral rhetoric –
“The blogs allow us to learn and grow as a group. If we are asked to learn as a group should we not be graded as a group? With all the knowledge we aquired from each other this term I honestly believe we all deserve A’s. Not because I want an A, though I do, but because I believe that we experienced this class together the best way it could ever be experienced. If that doesn’t warrant A’s all around I don’t know what does.”
They have become a learning community, and it’s amazing how much they have helped each other learn. (And my charming student – unnamed because he kept the post limited to our class only – has received a comment on the long-term importance of intrinsic rewards and the short-lived importance of extrinsic rewards; not what he was angling for, but hey! “you don’t always get what you want, but sometimes, you just might get what you need”, eh?
Although we have a class wiki as well, and some rich class storytelling, it is the blog where they connected with questions and help.
Steve Lazar says
Can’t find a trackback link for this. The full post is avaliable here.
Well, I think one of the most important aspects of getting students (and teachers) engaged to to start from their points of view, not ours. The first questions shouldn’t be “how can I get my students to do what works for me?” or “how can I share my passion for blogging (or anything else) with my students?” Rather, if we really want to engage our students, we need to ask “what do our students do that works for them?” and “what are my students passions?” Then we must consider how to adapt content matter and learning tools to our students….