Saturday, March 16, 2013

Why Blogging Isn't Transformational for Our Students Yet

Dr. Chris McGee wrote a blog post wrote a post on his blog Coaching in and out of the Classroom on the importance of blogging. It helped me verbalize some thoughts that had been swimming through my head for some time:

There are many things more important than blogging, especially how it is often used in the classroom. As you know I argue that blogging and other forms of social media have the potential to be transformative when they are used to connect students with others around the world. Unfortunately this isn't the norm of blogging or social media use by our students. 
When teachers refer to authentic audience they often confuse it with a larger audience. Authenticity means that the readers want to read the writing. They choose it, they don't have it chosen for them (even when they are assigned to do it through comments4kids). We don't develop authentic audiences with our students because that requires we give up control of where the students go and what they read.  
If we want blogging and commenting to be transformative we have to let students choose to blog, choose to respond, and choose to not participate. Then the power of connections can truly transform our students thinking. I truly believe that connections made by future generations online will help bring about a more peaceful and caring world, the question is will educators lead the way or will we continue to stifle it through our lack of understanding?
What do you think? Is this right or am I full of crap? I would love some dialogue about this.


  1. This is spot on. It's something I've actually be wrestling with lately...what does "authentic" really mean? Chris is right - often when teachers look for "authentic audience," a larger audience will often suffice.

    I don't have an answer for the question about releasing control. We're wired to want all students to complete assignments, even if it isn't authentic for them, including blogging. Really finding authentic learning means really letting go of our control compulsion.

    1. I don't think all learning needs to be authentic. In fact, I don't believe most of what we need to teach in school can be authentic. There needs to be opportunity for authentic learning, but I would argue that not all learning should be authentic. I realize that means that not all learning will be transformative as well..

  2. You make an interesting point here! This year, I got everyone access to a blog through our Board blogging platform, but I don't require that everyone blogs. Nor do I require that everyone comments. The blog is simply a way to showcase student work, and it doesn't work for everyone. I'm okay with that. A few students use their blog as a portfolio. A few other students use their blog to share what they're passionate about or to answer questions from others. Then there are students that do a combination of the two. And I have many students that choose not to blog at all. They send me their work in a different format. As a school, we're focusing on student voice and student choice, & I don't think that I can be true to that and say that students HAVE to blog!

    Thanks for such a great post!