from the Director's Desk

Musings about school library media and instructional technology programs from NCDPI's Instructional Technology Divison.  Subscribe to our RSS Feed.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Why I'm Blogging

Since a couple of the consultants mentioned in their weekly updates that I had begun a blog, I’ve had a couple of questions about my intent, the platform I have chosen, and how I think blogs could be used in the classroom.

1.My Intent: For some time now, we have talked about the need for a Director’s Page or something similar that would give me an opportunity to highlight articles I have been reading, special projects we are doing in Instructional Technology, and perhaps some of the research and data that we are uncovering. I also believe that we in this division have a responsibility to model effective uses of media and technology in our professional lives—as I’m sure you all do as well. Creating a blog seemed a natural way to meet both these objectives.

2.Blogger: Our reasoning behind choosing Blogger is simple: it’s free and easy to use. We don’t have a php server, nor do we have money to subscribe to a commercial server-based blog. Granted, Blogger is not a secure environment. One of my first comments was spam, but we’re all adults here and I can certainly act as my own censor if necessary. As our technology options improve here at DPI, we may upgrade our platform, but ‘til then, Blogger is a good option for us—and moving through some of the other blogs on the site has been fascinating!

3.Use of blogs in the classroom: I think blogs have the potential to be a wonderful new tool for classroom use, especially in English/Language Arts and Social Studies classes. I can see English teachers setting up a blog for students to use rather than having them submit traditional book reports. History teachers can ask students to choose a current topic (the Iraq War, aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, how the oil producing countries are responding to the US oil crisis) and blog at least once weekly on how the week’s events are affecting their specific topic. Media and technology personnel could ask students to create a blog rather than a formal research paper, documenting their daily exploration into an assigned topic—rather than writing the dreaded research paper. Obviously, I’d advise teachers to make sure their blog and their students’ blogs are located in a secure environment—and that they have control over content and access. (David Warlick has a wonderful secure blog option on his Landmark for Teachers site http://www.landmark-project.com/index.php ) But aside from the usual care we all take when our students go online at school, take advantage of a new way of teaching and learning. It has so much potential!

3 Comments:

Blogger David Warlick said...

Frances,

Thanks for your new avenue of sharing, from the Director's Desk. I like the way that you have broken up this entry into three parts, and each emphasizes what to me is important about blogging to North Carolina educators.

Number one, it's about sharing. Each of us has something in our knowledge and experience that can help others. Blogging, as a technology, is entirely unimpressive. It's people and the network of information that they have grown that has made this a revolution in communication.

Number two, blogging is so accessible. As you say with blogger, it is simple and free. The fact is through this amazingly simple tool, a newbie can have a blog up in less than five minutes and be publishing their knowledge, experience, and insights to the world.

Number three, it's good for the kids. Learning happens in conversations, and although blogging is a publishing tool, it is, in no small way, a conversation. I just returned from three days of work in Carteret County where I worked with high school and middle school teachers and media specialists on a blogging initiative. I realized one evening that throughout the workshops, I could not remember the word technology being used once. All conversations were about communication, information, ideas, knowledge, and accomplishment.

I would add a forth, and it's what David Weinberger calls "Small things Loosely Joined". The blogosphere informed me that you had mentioned my name and web site in your blog article. How well we can teach and students can learn, when information starts directing itself, when we can train information to find us.

September 24, 2005 5:35 AM  
Blogger Frances Bradburn said...

And I'll add even another. Together we're greater than the sum of our parts! Actually that's the title of my keynote at NCSLMA next month, but it's so true. We each have something to offer and when it's all compiled, we are so much more effective, intelligent, and powerful. Thanks for taking the time to comment, David!

September 24, 2005 4:28 PM  
Anonymous Joe Poletti said...

...and I'll add this caveat, Frances:

Student writing will flourish in a culture that practices and prizes writing. Therefore, if we want our students to write, we (teachers and staff) could help set the tone by writing publicly ourselves. The next key is to increase the writing opportunities for our students. If we can provide those opportunities for our digital natives (students) in a digital context, then so much the better.

See you in the blogosphere...

September 28, 2005 8:24 PM  

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