One of my teachers and I have been trying to work through the issue of students answering questions online by basically rephrasing the posts of students before theirs. He likes the idea of having responses published for others to see, and he is encouraging his students to build upon the responses of others. And he is teaching his kids what the expectations are regarding responses. But there is a real difference between Web log posting and written, paper responses. I know that kids can share answers and copy no matter what form the responses take. But let’s face it, it’s a lot easier for kids to take ideas when they are easily accessible online. And a larger issue is what happens when students in other sections of those courses use this online content for their own class?
I know that much of this can be avoided by how the assignment is constructed. With process writing where students are working through drafts, Web logs work well in showing the evolution of a piece. Same with research and problem solving to a certain extent. But these kind of short, one-draft answers that are meant to extend conversation past the classroom may not be a best use. Not unless all students post at the same time and we used discussion of those original ideas to extend the conversation.
And we can revisit the question of how much student work should be published online. Greg and I and others discussed this a while back. But I’m going to be interested to see how long it will take before our students start taking other students’ work when posted online.
Two thoughts…there had been some discussion a while back of putting an option into Manila for private or public publishing. I wonder where that is in terms of development. And, I need to dig further into the search functions of Manila for the entire server. I’m sure there is a way to Google search our whole domain which we’re going to need to do from time to time.
Dennis G. Jerz says
I’m having almost the opposite problem… I hyped weblogs for a couple weeks before I actually introduced them to my students, some of whom really made their blogs their own. Now they feel like I am intruding when I give them assigned topics to blog. The link goes to a related blog entry that has examples.
P.S. I use MT, so I can’t speak to your specific Manilla questions, but it ought to be possible to password-protect a directory where a group blog lives, and share that password with a group. Just a thought.
Terry Elliott says
My take on blogs has always been that they blow the doors off institutional frameworks, especially moribund ones. Weblogs are a means to an end; and the end is learning not schooling. The strategic student is always looking for the extrinsic reward–the grade–so he or she will use it to get that grade, dust his hands together, and say, “Well, that’s that.” As long as schools consider weblogs as a just another delivery tool for the same old wine then it won’t matter how shiny, cool and new the bottle is. The best weblogs are their own reward. A few students get that right away, then they ask themselves, “What do I need a teacher for?” I am struggling with the same problem although I think what Dennis is talking about is the institutional difference between high school and higher ed. As David Wiley said recently, paraphrasing here, just because you are a good water polo coach doesn’t mean you do the same thing with horses. Chew on that, grasshopper. ;]