Saturday, July 07, 2007

Thanks to Ray Tolley from a post he had put on the Terry Freedman's Coming of Age Ning Network recently.

Ray was quite rightly questioning the use of blogs and blogging in education here is part of his post

"Recently I've been looking at how both teachers and students are using blogs. - And from a school's perspective I feel a bit disappointed.

Yes, Forums like this and others record the questioning, contributions and feelings of a like-minded group. However, I feel that our inputs are often professionally careful and, apart from the odd spelling mistake
(what no spell-checker in ning?) we present a rounded and politically correct set of contributions. (We have a saying in Yorkshire about 'Opening your mouth and putting your foot in it!')

Similarly, the student blogs that I have seen so far fall into four similarly polished categories:

1. The 'letters' between two correspondents - this format tends to be a very well crafted set of short linear essays often presented in an impressive web-page format - 10/10 for presentation, but what of the interactivity? 2/10?

2. The 'My Diary' format tends to be the 'Diary of Adrian Mole' variety - completely linear - more of a confessional with no one speaking from the other side of the veil. Presentation: 5/10 Interactivity: 0/10

3. The 'What I did at school today' format again tends to be a presentation of pictures and/or naratives - often quite interesting and a good communication tool celebrating successes which can be seen by parents at home etc. Presentation: 8/10 Interactivity: 4/10

4. The 'Wiki Compilation' is getting there but so far I have not been able to deduce from the resultant documentation who said what and when. Presentation: 7/10 Interactivity: 5/10

Don't get me wrong, I'm not being critical of blogs, far from it! What I would like to see, though, is children actually
collaborating, arguing their case, often making mistakes, learning from each other's opinions and building upon them 'Warts and all' - and building up a consensus or composite essay combining the contributions of all the group.

Another approach might be when a small team is asked to investigate a topic, aspects are brainstormed, members agree on who will investigate what and in a short time a composite is produced (recording individuals' contributions) which the members can then refine, comment upon others' contributions, and then present as their own individual final reports.

Ray Tolley - Coming of Age Ning Network "

Ray followed this by suggesting using online Mindmapping at Kayuda - I have tried it out great for constructing a mindmap online - we will try it out in class as we roll towards the end of the school year, to sum up what we have achieved using new technology in school this year - why not give it a try?

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Allanah said...

I think its a matter of building up a community of practice among child bloggers. To do that you need to build a community around the things that THEY are interested in.

In the early years that may be lego, pig hunting, PS2 or tamagotchi but it is what it is and with direction and nourishment it may well grow into something more.

But to force blogging to become more lofty & ethereal too soon may well drive away those who are yet to discover the uses and learnings that can be gleaned from blogging.

Ewan McIntosh said...

I'm always feeling that Ning discussions really should be online for all to share in easily, so I'm going to add my contribution there here:

There are also some great examples of kids learning from each other's mistakes and making improved versions of their languages performances in assessment for learning projects such as Rate My Mates:

or the two stars and a wish comments that run throughout Sandaig's blogs, like the poetry one:

Mr Harrington said...

Thanks for joining in the debate Ewan, I will pass on your comments to Ray Tolley - I agree that perhaps Ning messages should be online a bit like a Twitter. I don't have the time always to check out what is happening in Ning!

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