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Blogging in writing and education – the convergence of technology in the classroom


With the advent of technology and the large audience one can gain by sharing their thoughts on the Internet, it’s no wonder there are millions of blogs in cyberspace on any subject one could be interested in.  Blogging has given people a voice who may have not had an audience to share their voice with before.  Blogging also allows gifted writers and storytellers, as well as those with certain media connections, to provide unadulterated information to the public.  In fact, blogging has become so popular, and more importantly influential, that blogs with large audiences (high traffic volume) stand to make money through advertisements, and partnerships, among other things.  Blogging has given a voice to everyone who desires one, and with technology transforming the way we communicate (e.g. iPhone, cloud computing, etc.), blogs can be maintained and altered in seconds from a mobile device or tablet.  Because education is such a hot topic in today’s society, its no wonder blogging, among many other technologies, has invaded the classroom.  The use of blogging for writing and education has, however, created an interesting debate about whether or not blogging is actually useful as a teaching tool.  The pros are obvious; one that immediately comes to mind is that there is greater exposure to the material being taught because blogging is much more accessible to Generation Y students.  Additionally, there is an emphasis in blogging to be more interactive with other bloggers, including other students and professors who are utilizing the same blog.  Comments on others’ posts can spark educational debate and curiosity, as well as students teaching other students.  The idea here is that the “learning” doesn’t stop when class is over, or when the reading is done.  A constant stream of comments back and forth with others in the class can help to form a community of learning that is both informative and fun.  An interesting article talks about how students as young as 10 years old are beginning to use in the classroom as a tool to learn and interact with their classmates as well as teachers.  Jay Cross, an educational media consultant, is cited in the article as saying, “90 percent of our learning is informal.”  Blogs offer that “comfort” of the informal.  Students don’t think of the Internet as a classroom substitute, but it quickly is becoming a useful companion to the classroom.  Blogging can be done while surfing the Web, while watching TV, or while eating one’s favorite meal.  And the most important factor here is that blogging enables a student to provide an opinion.  With blog posts, comments to others’ blog posts, and the inclusions of hyperlinks as well as media, a student can probably get their point across easier on an intuitive platform such as a blog.

However, there do appear to be some cons with blogging in terms of education and the expansion of the classroom.  Using a blog empowers students, but may detract from the actual material a professor is trying to teach the class.  Blogs, being online, also have inherent distractions; one is almost sure to surf the Internet while writing a post, taking away from the actual learning time involved with the class’s blog.  What’s more, a blog, because of it’s history and it’s purpose, is intended to be free of censors.  Conversely, the education system many times sets certain standards for material that students learn with.  In other words, it is hard to control a direction and content of a blog because of the free nature of the platform.  Writing papers and having a class discussion can be controlled and regulated fairly easily.  When you add the many powers of the Internet, things will invariably get more complicated.

Another con that has been mentioned numerous times in articles regarding educational blogging is the fact that the blog many times is not private.  Of course, there are settings that can be configured to allow for private viewing, but students will be able to see other students’ posts.  This is the purpose of the blog, and for many this fact is a pro for educational blogging.  However, it can also cause unwanted competitiveness among students as well as hinder some students writing and opinions out of fear and shyness.  There is a certain comfort that a student gets when handing in an opinion paper or creative writing assignment to a professor.  Sometimes, students would prefer that no one else but the grader see it.

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About Ben K.

I'm a senior management major at Bucknell University, hailing from Westchester, NY. Upon graduation, I will begin work as a management consultant.

Discussion

6 thoughts on “Blogging in writing and education – the convergence of technology in the classroom

  1. Ben, you make an excellent point about how learning does not stop when class is over or when a student completes a reading or essay. I think that blogging is an excellent way for students, especially those who are hesitant to speak in class, an opportunity to articulate their opinions, have discussions and even debates with their fellow classmates and professors. While I see your point that blogging could create competition amongst students, I think that the competition would spark even more conversation and comments. Students would try to consult other sources from the internet, include additional articles and videos to support their arguments or opinions. This would provoke students to do additional research, broadening their horizons on topics they probably have never explored.

    Posted by Dana Silverstein | January 30, 2012, 12:39 pm
  2. I think you did a good job of addressing several of the pros and cons with respect to using blogging as an educational tool. One thing that came to mind, though, was the reliability of the information posted in blogs. From an educational perspective, it is important to recognize that the information presented in blog posts usually represents an individual’s opinion. It should not be taken as fact or cited as a legitimate source. I think that it is important to be somewhat skeptical of the views presented in blog posts and of what the blog writer is claiming. With that said, I do agree that if used correctly, blogs can be a great tool in education as an open forum to share thoughts, ask questions, and learn new things.

    Posted by Lauren McGuiggan | January 30, 2012, 1:31 pm
  3. Ben,
    Full disclosure, I am a h.s. social studies teacher working on a doctorate in education and am currently in educational technology. What struck me from your blog post is what you view as a negative – how engaged are those who are blogging, when the possible distractions abound that could easily, even momentarily, distract them from the task at hand? In mentioning pros of blogging, you mentioned that this allows for a furthering of exposure to the material at hand and that it is likely that professor and students alike are on the same blog and therefore the information is immediate and widespread. I am curious just how effective you have found this as a college student? I am eager to ask my own students if they have a blog on my course – AP European History. I know they have a Facebook page for it. Any insight?

    Posted by kevinclarkpalmer | January 30, 2012, 8:13 pm
    • I’ve only just started blogging as part of a class on business ethics. These blog posts are actually assignments given to us from our professor where he, and every student in the class, is an author of this blog (think of it as a comm. We’re required to comment a few times per week, and our blogs have certain guidelines that are to be met upon completion of the post. I’ve liked the blogging so far, but I’m also not completely convinced it serves an important purpose in my personal learning. However, a decent amount of the course is dedicated to maintaining and discussing our blog. Because of the high level of class focus on the blog, I can definitely see myself grow to see more value in the blog throughout the course.

      From what you have said, it seems like the students have taken the initiative with no instruction from you and created their own Facebook page about the class. But, I doubt your students have a blog, because I doubt they want to write any more than they have to for or relating to schoolwork (since it seems like you’re not assigning anything). It is interesting that they’ve created a Facebook page though – I’m wondering what they use it for as I never used Facebook for academic purposes. But asking if they have a blog doesn’t hurt!

      As for some of the cons you were talking about, I think I might have somewhat contradicted myself. But, I think what I was trying to say is that blogging with distractions can have positive and negative effects. Its a nice luxury to be able to do your blog homework and include fun and interesting links. But it also can be a detriment to doing your homework in a timely manner. I do have friends who regularly maintain their own personal blogs, but I can’t say educational blogging enhances the educational experience just yet (sorry Professor, I said yet!).

      Posted by Ben K. | January 30, 2012, 10:09 pm
  4. Ben, I enjoyed learning about your take on blogging and its use in education. I liked how you laid out both sides of the argument, and while I understand the cons, I think the pros you provided are quite convincing. For me, the aspect of blogging that allows for the most potential in the classroom is the fact that it enables students to voice their own opinions. Education is often criticized for being too structured and formulaic, but I think if blogs are used in the right way, they can have a transformative quality and change the way that education is viewed. Students need to learn how to analyze and think for themselves, and I believe that blogging has the power to transcend traditional modes of learning. I had the pleasure of hearing John Legend speak and perform at Bucknell last week, and his speech focused on educational reform and the importance of creativity. I think that he would agree that implementing blogging into the classroom will provide students an outlet to express themselves in a new medium where they can learn what they are passionate about. Of course there still needs to be structure to education, but students should also be able to learn and think about topics that are of interest to them personally, and blogging allows for this. Instead of taking away from what already exists in the education system, blogging will help it grow.

    Posted by Beth O'Brien | January 31, 2012, 3:42 pm

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BLOG INSTRUCTIONS

Blog 5 before session 6 What (interest) or Who (person) Inspires You? For this week’s prompt, the Blog Council wants you to examine how this class relates to your own interests. So, please write about how this class relates to some of your own intellectual or other learning interests. We are NOT interested in how it relates to a specific career goal. Plan B: same idea, but based on a person. See whole post for details.

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