Monday, April 04, 2005

Blog Observation

This past week I've had too much of a good thing, writing for four different blogs, and while I'm sure that there's a paper waiting to be written about the experience, I'll hold off doing on it.

One thought that I've been gnawing on for the past month has been the idea of blogging bringing about something new by way of critical thought. I have gathered that most teachers using blogs in the classroom have not seen blogging move beyond being like a discussion list, and that we haven't had what I believe Jocalo termed the "AHA!" moment with blogging.

But I think we're getting there--Mike E. has been speculating about comments on blogs, and Steve Krause, responds by observing that the string of comments following Mike's post seem more like "letters to the editor" than conversations or discussions. Meanwhile, over at Yellow Dog, Jeff is "ragging" on an article about teaching with technology that appeared in Inside Higher Education for not going far enough in thinking beyond the computer as a tool. And to round things out, Jocalowrites today about distinguishing between information that should be kept to oneself or be part of public knowledge.

Here are my hazy thoughts:
In order to analyze how a blog functions, I think you have to analyze a blog community,or a series of blogs, not just one. It's not even enough to think of the multiple responses and responders on a single blog, or that they have left their blog address with their message. We have to look at the idea and see where it has been, what happens to it, how many blogs it has been picked up on, the kinds of blogs that pick it up, and so on. And then, the conclusions that you make, well, that's where I'm stumped. Do I ask my students to blog about Fathering Words as a prewriting or prereading tool or do I ask them to blog about it to blog? Do I use blogging as an end in itself even though I, a Sputnik baby, have no idea what that end is? And then do I teach another book in a more "traditional" way, sans blog, as a way of contrasting the experience of working out ideas about books? I just might.

I think, too, if we look at the conversations on blogs, we have to keep in mind that the discussion may start here, move on to another blog, garner some comments there and some mentions on other blogs and then return. For instance, during the faux hoax of Laura Krishna last week, I responded to some of Mike's ideas on his blog and then at Rhetoric and Democracy and finally back at Vitia. The tenor and tone of my comments varied, but I was aware that I was talking to him, and I can see how Steve K could view some of the comments at Vitia as being like a letter to the editor, as I wasn't connecting to comments from the others. (though I'd read them. Every one ; ) )

I can hear one of my grad school profs asking, "So what?" And right now I shrug and respond "I don't know. But I'll find out."

Always Thinking,



At 8:08 AM, Blogger Sharon Gerald said...

I think you're on to something there. What's missing in the classroom blogs is the synergy of being part of larger network of interconnected blogs.

I've tended to agree with Scott thus far that blogs are more useful to teachers than to students. At least I'm not convinced that having my students blog is going to accomplish enough to be worth the effort. But it has been worthwhile for me to keep a classroom blog. I can see the results of how it is being used by the students.

And maybe that's the thing. When do students get to see the results of what they've accomplished by keeping a blog for a class?

At 1:08 PM, Anonymous joanna said...

I'm borrowing your idea of the classroom blog as my students work on reading Fathering Words.

I think that by inviting the author to post on the blogs (I changed my mind and decided to have each student create his or her blog)we can begin to get some of that networked feeling. This semester, though is a dry run, as far as I'm concerned. I just want to use the blog, see what happens and then revise from there.

I think that I will be better able to answer your question next semester when I have built in more blog-specific assignments and have taught them more about liking art and sound and so forth to their blogs. I may use their blogs in lieu of most classroom assignments turned in on paper, at least, any of the writing assignments.
I already know that I won't be using blogger. I' going to post a question about blogware here in the coming days.

At 10:52 AM, Blogger Sharon Gerald said...

I'll be very interested in advice on blogware. I'm using Blogger because it is free and it was a good way for me to learn. If I were to have my students blog, however, I would at least like to give them to option of password protecting.

I'm not sure how realistic it would be for me to have students blog, actually. I would be their only tech support. We would have to use something free, reliable and easy to set up.

But I'll be watching carefully to see how other people do it. I'd like to try it eventually.

At 10:40 PM, Blogger Dominicans resources said...


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