How might those involved in the processes of education benefit from blogs? There are many answers to this question. Education involves many people playing many different roles and each role has unique learning and communication requirements. We focus here mainly on teachers and students, but it is also helpful to note that administrators, specialists such as librarians, coaches, counselors, and technology facilitators, and parents are essential to the processes of schooling. Each category of participant must acquire information, develop understanding, and contribute insights. Each category of participant has unique interests, but all categories interact. With a little thought, it is not that difficult to imagine what information individuals in a particular role have to share and the type of comments individuals in a naturally linked role might offer in response.
Blogs in Classrooms
Let's narrow the focus a bit. Our purpose here is to explore how teachers and students can benefit from blogs and blogging and to propose some specific types of activities teachers might consider. By the way, we do not use the word classroom to refer only to the physical location where teachers and students spend much of their time between 8 and 4. Clearly, one of the benefits of blogging over other methods for learning and communication is that it is not place or time dependent.
One way to begin might involve a very brief discussion of what blogging should/could involve. While we describe the collection of activities this wiki covers as the participatory web, some writers prefer to use the phrase "the read/write web". An advantage of this second description is the attention paid to multiple processes and perhaps to the priority of reading. Our own model is a little more involved and consists of the following components:
Bloggers have the opportunity to participate in a knowledge generating community by acquiring information (our alternative to what some describe as "read" in recognition that information can be experienced in multiple ways), processing that information in ways that lead to personal understanding (knowledge creation), the externalization of personal knowledge through writing (primarily in the case of blogging, but also potentially including other multimedia representations), and finally the repetition of the process in response to feedback (possible generated by reader responses) and the reading of what other bloggers and multimedia authors have to say on the same topic. Others may describe these processes using different terms. For example, the activities we summarize as "process" seems frequently to be described as "reflect".
Models such as this can be misleading if one takes the implied sequence too literally. There are often many twists and turns as one blogs. Struggling to express half-formulated ideas is a great way to realize more reading and thinking are required.
We will begin with suggestions for learning from blogs (one opportunity for reading) and then offer some suggestions for writing activities.