No Time to Be Blase about Blogs in the Classroom
Blogs and blogging. It seems like such an obvious thing to me. But recently I read a short article in the New York Times (Education Section) about sixth grade social studies students at a Kentucky middle school corresponding via blog with a local soldier stationed in Ghazni City Afghanistan. The soldier and students communicate through his blog. Questions are asked, answers and impressions are shared. This was a big enough story to make the New York Times. I guess I was just a little too blasé in my reading of this article.
I mean, I just very naively assumed that incorporating all facets of blog technology would be a given in the classroom because for one reason, blogs are probably the easiest way to publish a classroom website. You can post a class syllabus and just about anything else without having to register a domain name or (near and dear to my heart) learn HTML. I have a preference for blogspot.com because it is free and simple to use. Blogging will allow you to engage in wonderful online discussions with students. These exchanges are publicly available and can be archived so you can draw from them later. I know from experience that if a student knows their work will be read by peers, they will take considerably more care in assuring the quality of that work.
In regard to the soldier blogging from Afghanistan for the classroom in Kentucky: I hope that the teacher uses this blog as a means to inspire debate. I hope she revels in opposing viewpoints and invites students to offer constructive criticism in order to sharpen their analytical thinking. Ideally she is reinforcing upon her students the dictates of proper internet protocol as well as those of general human decency. To top it all off, I hope the teacher has been equipped with a bright classroom projector to display the blog as a great big image befitting the magnitude of such an important lesson and endeavor.