Thornburg (Laureate Education, 2010), in his research on technology and society, notes that with the ever increasing demand for technology integration in today’s classrooms teachers need to openly embrace technological innovations and utilize them to raise the effectiveness of their instruction and expand the learning potential of their students. Teachers must actively endeavour to move beyond simply doing things differently and instead be innovative in the manner in which they engage their students and work to do different things. In this regard the application of student blogging is a great means of targeting numerous learning outcomes using interactive technology. As November (2008) notes, “blogging represents one of many tools pioneering teachers are using to empower students to take greater responsibility of managing their own learning and adding value to the world” (p.81). In working collaboratively with students in the development of blogging activities, class blogs can serve to fulfil a number of different roles and be utilized across the curriculum. Personally I have used classroom blogging successfully to guide student learning in a few ways.
Within my grade 3 class I have used blogging as an interactive means of assisting students in the development of writing skills in language arts class. Through the provision of comments/feedback students are better able to identify areas of potential growth and work to correct any identified shortcomings. Additionally my students have blogged to create digital portfolios of completed project assignments in science. Being able to link images, photos, videos and text allows for a detailed running history of their learning journey, and one which can viewed and critiqued by persons beyond the students’ inner circle of close friends and teacher throughout the entire learning activity. Lastly within the content area of social studies student blogs can be utilized to facilitate class discussion and the sharing of opinions for class debate. This is an activity which I really enjoy utilizing with my students as it offers them the opportunity to engage higher order thinking skills and utilize the full collaborative nature of the application. Using a central blogging theme as a prompt my students have been able to share their thoughts on specified topics through blogging discussion forums with the intended learning goal being the realization that everyone is entitled to their own point of view – whilst also learning that occasionally you may have to defend what you believe in. The use of blogs in facilitating this ‘discussion forum’ has allowed students to make learning connections and, as noted by the National Council of Teachers of English, “build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally” (as cited by Richardson, 2010, p. 32). Blogging activities have allowed my students the opportunity to develop ideas, gather and share feedback, reflect on material, synthesize information, and ultimately present new ideas to an audience beyond the simple confines of the classroom.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). Technology and Society [Webcast]. Understanding the Impact of Technology on Education, Work, and Society. Baltimore, MD: Author. Retrieved November 6, 2011 from: http://sylvan.live.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=6072032&Survey=1&47=8988338&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=1&bhcp=1.
November, A. (2008). Expanding the Boundaries: Blogs, RSS, Podcasts, and Wikis. Web Literacy for Educators. p. 79-92. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. Retrieved October 30, 2011 from: http://sylvan.live.ecollege.com/ec/courses/74759/CRS-CW-6072032/Artifacts/November_Ch6.pdf.
Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.