Transformative EduBlogging – First Thoughts
Edublogging can contribute to shifting learner perspectives in terms of epistemic and psychic distortions. Learners’ communicative competence can be improved through dialogue: self-talk, self-reflection, critical self-reflection, reflection in action, and negotiating meanings and purposes with others.
In a former post, I discussed therapeutic edublogging, and questioning what the appropriate role of the educator should be. In the case of a learner undergoing a life transition, or epochal transformation, an educator should be co-present and supportive (within limits) to guide the learner. One limit is to not coerce the learner to continue self-disclosure when they no longer to do so. I think that a learner’s defensive posture of apparent inaction/resistance constitutes a choice. And whenever learners are confronted with challenges that lead them to throw up barriers, the need for privacy and withdrawal from the learning activities (and from the conversation) needs to be respected. It is not the role of educators to coax learners out of their unwillingness to disclose and reveal innermost thoughts.
Though the potential exists for learners to adopt a stance of using the edublog as a confessional or for therapeutic reasons, learnersdoing so should be discouraged from making it initially public.
I think that educators must act to protect the confidentiality of individual learners, providing a number of options and resources for learners to participate in edublogging.
As I see it, there are several liminal spaces learners need to traverse to become more skilled in blogging. These thresholds require scaffolding, modeling, and support.
The first threshold for learners is the decision to either blog as a private individual without peer interaction, or participate as an autonomous blogger with the potential for peer commentary and feedback, but with no guarantee of it. A related choice has to do with deciding if/when to swing back to a private blogging zone, or decide to open up posts from the private blog to the instructor and peers. A transformative educator encourages
Henry Giroux (1988) described Freire’s definition of culture as “…a form of production that helps human agents, through their use of language and other material resources, to transform society…it is an arena of struggle and contradiction” (Giroux, 1988, pp. 116-117).
In my view, edublogging is an ideal tool to mediate this process. However, edublogs play a more comprehensive role than being an arena.
Giroux (1988) described the tasks of the transformative educator:
1. work with experiences students bring to schools;
2. make these experiences, public and private, the object of debate and confirmation;
3. legitimate learners’ experiences to offer them affirmation and validation;
4. provide conditions for learners to display an active voice and presence;
5. invite learners “…to make visible the language, dreams, values and encounters” (Giroux, 1988, pg. 117).
6. model strategies for self-critique for learners
In my opinion, there are limits to what educators in formal settings should be doing to promote transformation. Educators have a role for promoting personal development, but not for assisting learners to plan the steps for taking social action. Using edublogging with learners to engage in transformative learning does not necessarily lead to praxis, to social action.