Today’s selectee is Barbara Ganley:
One of the promising aspects about classroom blogging (and how some students take the blogs and run with them both inside class and out, really making them about much more than classroom discourse as they feel their way through the choreography of their many writing voices playing out on the screen, switching from one to another post by post, something I observed even on a class blog last fall) is how the blog invites students to “take over,” to leave the teacher behind and to put their own voices, their own inquiry, their own concerns front and center. It takes time for a group of students unaccustomed to such a classroom experience to open up and let ‘er rip, but once it happens, they do a better job using the blog well than any of us cyber-immigrants could dream of doing.
And the question then becomes, once they do, are they learning in ways that prepare them for their futures more effectively than the traditional methodologies 99% of educators are still using?
I’ve been grappling lately with just how wholeheartedly to embrace the “all information is now socially constructed” meme that’s building out of the Read/Write Web environment. If true, if we are entering an era where the information we rely on is in constant flux, under constant collaborative revision, then we really need to rethink the literacies we’re teaching our kids. They’re going to have to become much more engaged in their own learning, be able to participate in the discourse, the give and take. They’re going to have to be editors with serious critical thinking skills…problem solvers…negotiators.
In other words, they’re going to have to be bloggers.
Corrie Bergeron says
A quibble regarding the notion of “social construction” – I don’t think we want our students socially constructing the value of pi, or the birthdate and name of the first President of the US. Some things just aren’t subject to negotiation (at least I hope not!)
Our students live in an information stream that is deeper, richer, and flowing faster than ever before. They absolutely need to be able to research, filter, aggregate, analyze, and synthesize. But given how many “what I had for lunch” lookit-me blogs there are out there, I think we want them to be not just bloggers, but GOOD bloggers. Truman Capote would be appalled at much of the blogosphere, I’m sure. 🙂
Laura Pearle says
Amen Corrie! That’s been my biggest fear about the pushing of the so-called Read/Write Web: that we’re not going to focus on teaching students the basics. Yes, blogging can be “fun” but what happens when the blog is written by an illiterate or clearly uneducated person?
I say this based on what I see happening with a friend’s daughter. She’s at a Sudbury school, where constructing your education is the school’s m.o.. She’s 10 and hasn’t found it necessary to learn to read yet. Her mother, and the school, say she’ll learn when she’s ready. Are we really willing to risk a generation of “not ready yets” because we’re pushing cool tools and social construction over basic learning and skills?
Will R. says
I agree with both of you, and that’s why I linked back to a post I wrote some time ago that defines what I think qualifies as blogging. “Look what I had for lunch” doesn’t cut it, which is why I’m not sure that I particularly like the “here’s what happened at school today” genre of teacher blogs that I see more and more of as well. It’s journal, not blogging. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s not getting as much out of the tool as you can. Blogging is analysis, it requires research, filtering, analyzing, synthesizing. And Laura, blogging begins with reading. You can’t blog without reading, I don’t think. I feel like I get a bit snobby about blogging the verb, but I think it’s what makes blogs valuable. They’re nice as digital archives, but I want students to do some heavy lifting in the space as well. Blogging should be fun, but it should be work as well…and that’s the opportunity of the Read/Write Web. What can we do now that we couldn’t do before? We could journal, yes, but we couldn’t blog.
Tom Hoffman says
Sometimes I wonder what planet people are living on. Don’t worry, hippie Sudbury schools are not on the ascent in the US, just the opposite, in spades.
Corrie Bergeron says
Never fear, Tom, the pendulum always swings. I suspect the “igneous fusion” standardized tests have reached their ascendancy.
Blogs are in some ways the 2000 version of the 70’s CB radio, the 80’s early 90’s desktop publishing, and the late 90’s web. Monkeys with typewriters, to be really snarky about it.
The big difference today is that thanks to the speed of information dissemination, and the very wide audience made possible by the Net, the large handful of folks who really understand this new medium have quickly established a working paradigm. We’ve leapfrogged the typical new communications technology cycle.
As Captain Jack Aubrey noted, “What an age of wonders we live in.”