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.