Bill Brandon responds to my post yesterday asking:
If we’re talking about children in primary school, or even in high school, will the long-term outcomes be better if they learn to interact directly with each other, or if they learn to interact by commenting on each other’s weblog entries (assuming that they find the latter as engaging as dealing with other kids, an assumption I very much doubt would be valid). If my outcome is for students to learn that learning does not happen in isolation, then wouldn’t it make more sense to design a curriculum around collaboration, cooperation, and construction of new knowledge, and have weblogs play a supporting role, rather than being the primary focus?
The Web log is never the primary focus; it’s a tool that, I think, expands what good teachers can do with their subject matter. I think the long-term outcomes are better if students learn to do both the synchronous and asynchoronous interaction well, because they are two different skills that are important contributors to a person’s literacy. One of the biggest appeals of Web logs in my eyes is their ability to bring even more collaboration, cooperation and construction into the process. For instance, right now, I’m trying to connect some high school students in Brazil with students in our Honors World Studies class as a way for both to get a more “real” experience of each other’s cultures than text books or videos or whatever tools are available right now. Before Web logs, I would probably have set up an e-mail exchange. But now, all of those kids can contribute to a shared space with audio, video, text, and graphics and build something together…much more than just commenting. I think there’s incredible potential there.