Here’s the bad news about today’s Journal article…the title: “Classroom Use of Web Logs Raises Concerns”
Here’s the good news…the article paints a much better picture of classroom blogging than the title suggests.
The WSJ is subscription only, so here are some snippets that I found interesting and relevant:
But the school’s experience highlights some of the issues that educators and parents face as blogs — simple Web sites that follow a diary-like format — gain entry into the nation’s classrooms. While most agree on blogs’ value for promoting student expression, critical thinking and exchange, there’s no consensus on the amount of control over access and content that educators should exercise. As blogging spreads, it could revive debates over student expression similar to those that have cropped up around school newspapers.
No doubt about this. And I don’t think it’s going to be an easy or necessarily smooth road. But I also don’t think there is any stopping this read/write Web into the classroom train. This is more about expression; this is about enhancing student learning in ways that we could not do in the past. While I may at times bemoan the slow pace of adoption of these tools, it’s actually probably a good thing in this respect…we need to prove that the constructivist, collaborative potential of the read/write Web is all it’s cracked up to be.
The use of blogs in schools remains limited but is growing, as scattered programs piloted by tech-savvy educators generate buzz and followers. Teachers are attracted to blogging for some of the same reasons blog use has exploded among techies, political commentators and would-be pundits.
The buzz is growing for blogs in general, and there are more teachers in the fold. That hopefully means that we’re going to push out in even more creative directions.
“What we want to see is a Web log where a teacher has final control, acts as a filter for any postings or comments,” says Janey Mayo, technology coordinator for Harford County Public Schools. “We’re trying to be very cautious with this because we’re working with kids.” School administrators also want to see further research on whether blogging has educational value at the elementary-school level, but so far haven’t found any.
This really does sum up where we are right now. Teachers see great academic potential, administrators see great risks, and we’re all in limbo waiting for the scholars to opine. The good news is, more and more of them are. The bad news is the results are mixed.
Other educators say, even pending such a fix, that blogging can be used responsibly in classrooms. They argue that kids surf the Web outside of school already, so teaching them to deal with inappropriate comments on blogs is important.
I’ve said this before, but the biggest challenge with all of this is that our kids are doing more than our teachers when it comes to mining and using the Internet, and we don’t have enough role models for them to teach the best ways to use it. That’s the scary part…the digital natives vs. digital immigrants issue.
“It’s worth taking that risk” of being exposed to inappropriate content on the Web, says Anne Davis, an information systems training specialist at Georgia State University and former elementary school teacher.
You go Anne!
All in all, I think the article is an accurate assessment of the current situation. There’s much left to be done…
Steve Dembo says
First of all, good luck Will in getting those comments back up again. I miss reading the extra conversation. Secondly, I’m in the process of incorporating blogs into my school right now. As of today, 2 faculty members have blogs to be used as professional development tools, the librarian has a blog for book reviews, 1 teacher has a blog to use as a means of providing information for the class and links, and 2 teachers are creating closed (editors only) blogs to use in ways similar to your Secret Life of Bees blog (they’re closed due to security concerns as we venture forth). Some of our administrators see the potential here and are excited in a nervous sort of way. Other administrators see the potential harm here and are excited in a fearful sort of way. What I’m hunting for are ways to support the idea that blogs can be useful as an educational tool, both as a support tool for our current curriculum and to help teach Digital Literacy skills that need to become part of the curriculum. If you (or anyone who sees this) knows of any good sources that I can use to garner support for incoprating blogs in the elementary environment, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org