Better teaching and learning with blogging

Over the past four years our school has an intensive blogging program. Every child from grade 3 up has a blog. This has been incredibly useful in regrads to us skilling up both students and staff in web 2.0 tools. Skills such as uploading, posting, embedding, dealing with templates and so on are all very effectivly taught through blogging. Our students were mainly using their blogs as digital portfolios. In this format students are uploading content but not really doing much else.

While this skill learning is very important it is really only very basic learning and I was looking for a way to deepen both the learning experience as well as teaching using the blogging platform.

I met Richard Olsen at a recent forum on blogging and he presented a model which does exactly what I was looking for. This is a model that he along with his team at Ideas Lab had constructed along with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach of PLP Network.

The four interlinking circles all show a different phases that a learner would move through while blogging. Each phase offering different skills and learning potentials. I imagine that the phases would be moved through seamlessly. Each phase also has implications for the teacher. For instance the connecting phase would result in the teacher having to teach methods of research as well as critical consumption of information.

The communication stage which has the role of sharing information and repurposing information would lead to the implication of understanding copyright and so on.

The real power of blogging comes when linking into these ideas. Practical examples of things you can do to link into these ideas are
1.Blogs have much more power when they are niche blogs as they allow the blogger to connect to a community, they set up stronger parameters for an audience for the blog, beyond the child’s parents and grandparents making it much more authentic.

2.When the comment box is used effectively it also allows for greater connectivity, it leads to deeper discussion, potential for questions and perhaps even debate. We need to teach our students how to comment effectively in order to create discussion.

3.When tagging and categories are done correctly the same happens. Children should be taught to tag for others not just themselves.

4.Blogs allow us to work collaboratively - there is always more knowledge in the group than the individual.

5. We also need to teach our students how to link effectively – this creates a broader knowledge base.

6. Students should be taught how to subscribe to other blogs, thus deepening their knowledge base and community base.

I presented these ideas to my staff and received overwhelmingly positive response. The model that Richard and his team has come up with is a good one as it provides a language that allows us to talk about blogging relative to our teaching practice, it also gives both pedagogical and practical ideas on how to take the idea of student blogging and transform it  or develop it to a deeper learning experience. It is also a model that I feel can be translated to alot of digital literacy’s. Many teachers are STILL unaware of how to apply ICT into their classrooms and see it as being some sort of nuisance rather than required. Models like this one provide substance to those teachers and are very beneficial.