Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Student Blogging

I've had some teachers ask me to provide them with some evidence as to why blogging might be good to do in a classroom setting.  The list is quite extensive.
I'll start by stating I consider student blogging to be one of the most powerful piece of student learning. They serve as a perfect vehicle for students to demonstrate their learning to a much larger audience, thereby authenticating the learning.  They also serve as the beginnings of a effective e-portfolio, an excellent tool in documenting learning. 
Take some time to review the three student blogs listed below.  These blogs were completed by students four years ago when I taught earth science.

So, now to the evidence for student blogging:
  1. It is FUN! Fun!….. It is wonderful when students think they are having so much fun, they forget that they are actually learning.
  2. Authentic audience – no longer working for a teacher who checks and evaluates work but  a potential global audience.
  3. Suits all learning styles
  4. Increased motivation for writing – students are happy to write and complete aspects of the post topic. Many will add to it in their own time.
  5. Increased motivation for reading –  students will happily spend a lot of time browsing through fellow student posts and their global counterparts. (Ask me about these, I have a huge list of interested schools.)
  6. Improved confidence levels – a lot of this comes through comments and global dots on their cluster maps (visits to their blogs.)  Students can share their strengths and upload areas of interest or units of work eg personal digital photography, their pets, hobbies etc Staff are given an often rare insight into what some students are good at. We find talents that were otherwise unknown and it allows us to work on those strengths. It allows staff to often gain insight to how students are feeling and thinking.
  7. Pride in their work – My experience is that students want their blogs to look good in both terms of presentation and content.
  8. Blogs allow text, multimedia, widgets, audio and images – all items that digital natives want to use
  9. Increased proofreading and validation skills
  10. Improved awareness of possible dangers that may confront them in the real world, whilst in a sheltered classroom environment
  11. Ability to share – part of the conceptual revolution that we are entering. They can share with each other, staff, their parents, the community, and the globe.
  12. Mutual learning between students and staff and students.
  13. Parents with internet access can view their child’s work and writings – an important element in the parent partnership with the classroom. Grandparents can make comments on student posts. Other parents can ‘adopt’ students who do not have internet access and ensured they have comments.
  14. Blogs may be used for digital portfolios and all the benefits this entails.
  15. Work is permanently stored, easily accessed and valuable comparisons can be made over time for assessment and evaluation purposes
  16. Students are digital natives - blogging is a natural element of this.
  17. Gives students a chance to show responsibility and trustworthiness and engenders independence.
  18. Prepares students for digital citizenship as they learn cybersafety and netiquette
  19. Fosters peer to peer mentoring. Students are happy to share, learn from and teach their peers (and this, often not their usual social groups)
  20. Allows student led professional development and one more……
  21. Students set the topics for posts – leads to deeper thinking activities
I can't (and won't) point to increased test scores due to student blogging.  I can and will say that when students have a vested interest in their learning, everything changes. 

Thanks to Gareth Scholes and Karen Mills for their Ulearn Workshop.

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