If it is enigmatic to answer a question with a question, what then is it to blog about blogging?
I’ve had some thoughts swirling around in my head over the past several months about the opportunities for use of web logs in education. Blogs (and social networks that call themselves blogs but aren’t really->see previous tech posting) have become immensely popular over the past 2 years. It began as a trend with young adults, then filtered down to colleges, then to teenagers, and now even to middle schoolers. They love them, they post several times daily, and for crying out loud they are excited about writing and then reading what their peers are posting. Do you realize what this means? Willful creative composition, drafting, revising, editing, publishing. The best part? They do it for fun.
Stop the presses.
Someone please tell me why we aren’t using this in schools? Many of the most commonly used blog-wares are currently blocked in my school system via network filters set at the central office. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I get that some of these kids are using their blogs or MySpace accounts to gossip and in the worst cases, cyber-bully others. I’m neither denoting that fact nor demeaning the power of public slander in the life of a student. As a matter of fact, initially I almost understood the ban because it is our foremost responsibility to protect our children. But as the potential for blogs continues to grow, I am convinced that the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. We shouldn’t be afraid of this new technology that can be so great for the students for whose instruction we are also responsible. If their education can be enhanced by utilizing it, then we owe it to them to try.
You know, when the internet became a big thing, educators were afraid of it. “They’ll see trash!” we cried. “They’ll play games!” we protested. “What good is this www, anyway? None of that information is reliable!” There’s this silly little cycle. Whenever something is new, we fight it. We protest, we cry, we make lists of all the reasons it just won't work, we bang our fists on the floor, and we are dragged kicking and screaming (led by the kids, most times) into the future. Then after our tantrum and after we recover from the paralyzing fear over what will go wrong, finally, as a last resort, we figure out how to modify the new thing into something that is useful. We taught them (with relative success) to stay away from the smut, to evaluate their sources, and to play games in their free time. We’ll teach them to blog responsibly, too.
I’m telling you right now, people, mark my words. Blogging is here to stay, and its uses will only continue to multiply. Don’t pass out at the following suggestion, but why don’t we embrace it this time (gasp)? Frankly, I think we need to take advantage of this tool before the powers that be catch on and start making us pay for it!
I most assuredly believe that the use of web logs can be an invaluable tool in teaching the writing process (how exciting will it be for students to see their very own words published on the web?!), and easily integrated across the curriculum. This newfangled (did I mention FREE?!) technology is a beautiful tool, full of potential for our kids; but as we all know so very well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.