Blogging for learning

4:56 PM / Posted by Lenva /

I am passionate about learning.

My love affair with ICT is because I truly believe it really does enhance learning and allows students different learning styles to experience success, which hopefully will lead on to higher self esteem, empowerment and a love for learning knowing that they will succeed.

I have been thinking about how this relates to student blogs and blogging in the classroom. For some time now I have been looking for examples of blogging in the classroom, especially looking for those with real and full evidence of classroom learning. As I read student and class blogs and I have to say that in many cases I have difficulty identifying the learning involved. I always ask myself what is the learning here, and often I am stumped.

I believe class blogs should have real purpose and that the owner of the blog (usually the teacher) is quite clear as to the purpose. I can really only think of 2 purposes - 1. to celebrate learning and 2. to show process, progress and achievement of learning.

It is easy to find blogs in the first group - to celebrate learning. These are the blogs serve the purpose of a digital newsletter to that show what has been happening in the school or classroom during a particular period.

However, to find blogs that show process, progress and achievement of learning is a little more difficult. An adult is able to make links between posts and to develop an issue across several posts. I'm not saying that a child cannot do this, but in many cases the blogs deteriorate as the child is unable to focus on the clear purpose of the blog.

In order to help students focus on the learning, the blog should have a clear and defined purpose and once this purpose is no longer needed (the unit of work is finished, the learning has moved on to a different area) then the blog should also finish. An example would be a student who was investigating a topic for science fair or conducting a novel study. The blog will show the process of the investigation, the progress of the learner and the outcomes of the learning, but when that investigation finishes and reflection is complete then the blog sits idle.

It's all about purpose for writing - a very important deliberate act of teaching.

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Comment by Fiona Grant on April 14, 2008 at 4:39 PM

Hi Lenva, your words reflect the importance of eLearning and effective pedagogy.

Well said.

Comment by Korero Pt England on May 14, 2008 at 1:27 AM

Hi Lenva
I have returned to this post again after a few weeks reflection :) I think you have raised some really valuable ideas here BUT now that I am working with Yrs 1-13 I am really challenged by the huge difference in purpose there is. So although I have the intriguing situation where the yr 1's at one school in the cluster are doing a very similar blog (including the technology involved) to a yr 10 class at another, the purpose is very different.
Neither of these two blogs fit your 2 criteria perfectly because they are simply PART of the cycle of learning, not the end point nor depicting the process. I think there is room for at least a 3rd option here :)
Anyway, thanks for challenging my thinking and I will no doubt discuss this with you further as I observe what others are doing.

Comment by Suzie Vesper on May 14, 2008 at 1:37 AM

I know I am reading this a little late in the piece but I have been thinking along very similar lines recently. When I put together my ICT roundup of ideas and went looking for a variety of uses of blogs and depth of thinking. I have to admit that these examples were a little thin on the ground with, as you say, a lot of people of people simply using them as digital class newsletters where the children have very little or superficial input. I had a teacher challenge me on what the learning benefit of a blog was and I talked about the comment feature as a way to self and peer assess or for having a discussion around a topic but not many people are doing this. The main advantage seems to be giving children that sense of a global audience which is powerful. Still, in a connected world, this will begin to loose its novelty value eventually and there needs to be more substance to what we are doing with these web 2.0 technologies.

Comment by Korero Pt England on May 14, 2008 at 2:17 AM

Hey Suzie and Lenva

Well, to try and get some thinking around this the lead teachers in our EHSAS cluster are publishing their learning intentions etc online and updating them as their thinking changes.
eg These guys at Glenbrae School's blog
and their teacher planning for it is online here
We currently have 11 projects underway and most involve blogs (some using Flickr) but the key is that their planning outline is available.
They can all be accessed from this page with a bit of perseverance :)

Comment by Lenva Shearing on May 14, 2008 at 10:06 PM

Thanks for you comments Dorothy,
I had a look at your blogs and certainly the Glenbrae one falls under what I call celebrating learning. I think that the blogs that inform parents and the world about learning that in happening certainly do celebrate the learning and this one is an excellent example.
You raised a good point about publishing learning intentions and I really like that idea.
I talked to my teachers about learning intentions on blogs and they were quite excited by it.
Thanks for the idea.

Comment by Lenva Shearing on May 14, 2008 at 10:08 PM

Thanks for your comment Suzie,
Dorothy's ideas of learning intentions seems to be a good idea, and one I intend to explore further.
If all our learning intentions were published then the learning benefits of a blog should be quite clear.
Good point too about commenting, but I think we need to teach how to comments as they can become superficial and meaningless as well.

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