Saturday, December 8, 2007

Blogging: More Than a Nifty Strategy?

Last month's National Council of Teachers of English Convention in New York City boasted a session on blogging, podcasting, or wikis, just about every hour. I attended several hoping to cull a few new tips or tricks, or even better, hear some discussion on how and why teachers were using blogs and other Web 2.0 applications. Ultimately, I wanted to know what others are finding their students are learning from this sort of practice.

From research done at our school, we know that writing proficiency improves from students' blogging. And we have some hunches about why. We figure modeling and the writer's confidence and compositional structuring that develops from models have much to do with the improvement of writers over time. But what else?
The sessions on Web 2.0 were lacking in reflective pedagogy. I don't expect to hear all the answers. (Do we ever have them?) But I'd like to hear some questions and inquiry. What I heard instead were cutesy, superficial "and then we have the students' post them (projects, writings, pictures, recordings) to the Web without any consideration as to why or what happens differently when we do this.

I'm not an alarmist--rather I think we are missing an important (teachable and teaching) moment that is actually replete in positive implications for our practice. Maybe that's what concerns me most. What I was hearing was blogs and wikis being regarded as just another "thing you could do," and I think they are more than that. My experience is that teaching/learning, i.e. meaning-making and sharing of meaning in the classroom is significantly changed by the power of collaborative, public posting of ideas and products of learning on the Web.

More research is needed. More discussion is needed. More reflection is needed. For a presentation at U of PR, Cayey I wrote a one-page sheet of some questions with which to start.

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