The Power of Blogging

A great discussion with the Humanities department really got me thinking about why blogging (along with other web 2.0 tools) is so powerful for our students, so I thought I’d share some of the many resources I’ve collected over the years here.

Although the conversation is currently about the tool (blogs), I think the bigger issues to address are:

  • How do we believe students learn?
  • What role does engagement, motivation and real-world application play in student learning?
  • What are the skills required for the 21st century?
  • How do we, as a school, ensure that our students are experiencing and understanding learning in a 21st century environment?

What this means is that we’re really discussing our beliefs about teaching and learning, and how technology can enhance that experience.

OK, back to the resources:

Here are a few of my favorite books. Please feel free to stop by EdTech any time and pick them up! I would highly recommend:

  • Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms by Will Richardson (also available in the Main Library)
  • Redefining Literacy for the 21st Century by David Warlick
  • Reinventing Project Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age by Suzie Boss and Jane Krauss

And, some that are not “official” favorites, but also address the question of new literacies in the classroom and research about technology and it’s impact on student learning:

  • How Teachers Learn Technology Best by Jamie McKenzie
  • Raw Materials for the Mind: A Teacher’s Guide to Digital Literacy by David Warlick
  • Teaching With Technology: Creating Student-Centered Classrooms by Judith Haymore Sandholts, Cathy Ringstaff and David C. Dwyer
  • Learning to Solve Problems with Technology: A Constructivist Perspective by David Jonassen and Jane Howland
  • Handbook of Research on New Literacies edited by Julie Coiro, Michele Knobel, Colin Lankshear, Donald J. Leu

And a few favorites about how technology is changing society (with obvious impacts on education):

  • The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman
  • Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirkey
  • The Long Tail by Chris Anderson
  • Everything is Miscellaneous by David Weinberger
  • A Whole New Mind by Dan Pink

And a few favorite articles (most are direct .pdf downloads):

More online resources:

Two active researchers, specifically working on blogging in education are Anne Davis (in Georgia) and Konrad Glogowski (in Canada).

Other web-based articles:

A few general websites about 21st century learning which address the issues above:

And, finally, the resources I’ve bookmarked on Diigo:

Please feel free to suggest other resources – this is just to get us started.

What is Blogging?

One of my favorite books about the power of web 2.0 tools in the classroom is Will Richardson’s Blogs Wikis, Podcasts and other Powerful Web Tools for the Classroom. It’s a quick and easy read – and very practical, written from a teacher’s perspective.

The section that had the most impact on me when I read it the first time was the section on what blogging really is. I thought I would share it here to prompt some discussion (p. 32):

  1. Posting assignments (Not blogging)
  2. Journaling, i.e. “this is what I did today.” (Not blogging)
  3. Posting links. (Not blogging)
  4. Links with descriptive annotation, i.e., “This site is about…” (Not really blogging either, but getting close depending on the depth of the description).
  5. Links with analysis that gets into the meaning of the content being linked. (A simple form of blogging).
  6. Reflective, metacognitive writing on practice without links. (Complex writing, but simple blogging, I think. Commenting would probably fall in here somewhere).
  7. Links with analysis and synthesis that articulate a deeper understanding or relationship to the cntent being linked and written with potential audience in mind. (Real blogging).
  8. Extended analysis and synthesis over a longer period of time that builds on previous posts, links, and comments. (Complex blogging).

When we’re blogging with students, it might be worthwhile thinking about how to develop their skills to Will’s “level 8.” The National Council of Teachers of English just released a informational overview describing the changing dynamics of reading and writing in our society, and how critical it is for students to learn those skills through the curriculum. Now that we have the tools here at ISB, we are ready to get started!

Richardson, Will. (2006). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. California: Corwin Press.