Steven Krauss from Eastern Michigan University has an article in Kairos that goes into some depth about his attempt to use Weblogs as tools to teach writing on the higher ed level. Has some trickle down to K-12 classrooms though.
His premise is pretty straightforward:
I have begun to wonder if it is advisable or even possible to see blogs as a collaborative or especially “interactive” writing environment. (2) Or, more accurately, I’ve come to believe we shouldn’t substitute blogs for other electronic writing tools that foster discussion and interactive writing, particularly email lists, commonly known as “listservs.”
What I find most informative about this article is his dissection of what he didn’t do with his blogging experiment that he feels contributed to its demise. In short, he chose the wrong software for his needs (Blogger,) he didn’t create specific requirements for blog usage, and he had no other place for online discussion. He does some great analysis that really should be must reading for anyone thinking of using Weblogs in this context.
Students (or anyone else) don’t just want to write, and certainly not in a blog space. As Walker puts it in her “Talk at Brown” notes, “How empowering is it to be forced to blog?” And yet, that is ultimately the power and even charm of web logs: it is very easy to master technology and interface in which just about anyone who wants to can post their writings and thoughts about anything. However, like the paper diaries and journals that web logs are so often compared, the writer has to have a reason– and generally, a personal reason– to write in the first place.
Yes, but…here is where the distinction between blogging and using blogs crops up again. It isn’t enough just to provide the digital paper; we have to teach kids how to use it well (blogging.) The writer does have to have a reason, a passion, in order to get the most from blogging. But what I think we have to accept is that the subjects they want to blog about may have little to do with our subject matter. But we can still teach the genre and the cr