I started the Wiki activity by adding a post but I’ll need to wait a bit for a few others to add to it before continuing the evolution to discussions and summarizations. Right now the wiki is more like some type of rolling blog. In the meantime I moved onto the blogging assignment which will probably have a discussion forum open up next week. For now, here’s my thoughts.
At first I was nervous about commenting about this issue because I don’t have children nor do I teach children. However after watching the Fischbowl video and reading the Educause article about educational blogging I feel a lot more comfortable about the idea of grade school children blogging in a supportive environment. That is how Stephen Downes describes the environment in the Educational Blogging article. I was also swayed by the interviews in the Fischbowl video where the students listed the multitude of benefits like extending the classroom, having time to reflect, taking accountability for their writing because it will be read so publicly and they will need to be able to defend what they write.
Now, optimistic about the value of the exercise I ran the process and technology through Chickering and Ehrmann’s Seven Principles and the results were also encouraging:
☑ encourages contact between students and faculty,
☑ develops reciprocity and cooperation among students
☑ uses active learning techniques
☑ prompt feedback
☑ emphasis time on task
☑ communicates high expectations
☑ respects diverse talents and ways of learning
I do acknowledge that neither of the sources seemed to offer any critique or discussion of potential risks. However, based on my assessment using these materials, I will move onto the potential strategies.
First would be to have a discussion with the parents – possibly a dialogue with them and their children to hear out the concerns. I would recommend sharing the assessment about how powerful of a learning experience this is and to share the video with the parents. I think its a strong message in the voice of the ones that matter – the kids. I think another option is to look into having a semi-public blogging space that is only open to the educational community e.g. the whole school but not the whole world. I didn’t hear any specific statements by the students about the benefits of having ‘strangers’ comment on their work. The value for the students seemed to come from interacting with their peers in an extension from the classroom. However, this may limit the value of the exercise that allows the students to engage with the world at large in a supportive environment which seems to be a timely and necessary learning experience. I think that they made the right choice with selecting Livejournal given the policy, as stated in the Educause article, of only allowing new members who are recommended by existing members. It’s not completely controlled but it helps to foster a safer community environment. I also think that it would help to include regular discussions and reflective exercises about how the students feel and respond to negative and hurtful comments that appear in their blog. As a last resort I suppose you could allow students to opt out.
Chickering, A.W. & Ehrmann, S.C. (1996). Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as Lever. American Association for Higher Education Bulletin, 49(2), 3-6.
Downes, S. (2004). Educational Blogging. Educause Review. September/October 2004 Accessed online 25 March 2009. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/EDUCAUSE+Review/EDUCAUSEReviewMagazineVolume39/EducationalBlogging/157920
Fisch, K. (2007). “Blogging: In Their Own Words,”The Fischbowl. Accessed online 26 March 2009. http://thefischbowl.blogspot.com/2007/06/blogging-in-their-own-words.html