Walking Stick Blogger

A Learning Space for Literacy and English Language Learners

“Why Teachers Don’t Want to Hear About (Edu) Blogs”

The resistance educators have towards the use of blogs for instruction have less to do with the actual drawbacks of blogs as a technology, than with the concerns instructors have about the implications. Most educators are concerned about the necessity of learning about a wide number of other supporting technologies that blogs tend to be embedded in.

Educators new to blogs and other web 2.0 technologies beginning to consider the benefits and drawbacks of the use of blogs for instruction, might first need to be introduced to the way their institution’s adopted LCMS (Learning Content Management System) works.

This might be ELGG, or Moodle, or BlackBoard, or Desire2Learn, or another LCMS.

Educators would have to attend an orientation session, and learn all about the technical skills needed for setting up a teacher profile, adding a course introduction and course outline, using the assignment drop-box, writing announcements, posting of assignments and other supporting content, adding discussion topics, adding details to the calendar, as well as adding blog posts. Then once the educators have a mastery of the required basic technical skills, there is a another set of workshops covering how the institution (often as a member of a consortium of educational institutions) wants educators to acquire skills on how to manage an online course.

These are some compelling reasons why many educators new to web 2.0 technology are unwilling to embark on such a time-consuming learning journey, particularly if this journey is done on their own time unsupported (and, more often than not, often unrewarded) in any way by the educational institution that employs them.

Indeed, despite the use of blogs being quite easy to set up and use for instructors and students to use, and despite the fact that students can immediately benefit from the types of learning activities blogging offers, uninitiated educators (who have not yet taken the required course to gain entry) are effectively blocked from accessing, learning, and using the blogging application by their own educational institutions, who insist on acting as gatekeepers.

There are reasons for why the gatekeepers keep guard against allowing untrained educators to access and use any of the LCMS features, and run online courses. The gatekeepers need to maintain a standard of quality, assert uniformity of course delivery, and protect students from invasion of privacy. The gatekeepers maintain vigilant guard around the virtual island to ensure the learning spaces are safe spaces.

Notwithstanding the tremendous barriers facing educators thanks to the restrictions and requirements employers place upon them as new users of web 2.0 technologies, some educators do not perceive blogs as particularly useful tools for instruction. There are concerns over student privacy and misuse (and abuse) of private information. There is a concern that students will not enjoy using blogs, and will not respond well to the activities. In addition to instructional concerns, educators recognize there is a risk that using technology in extended classrooms such as blogs will result in disruptive changes to their workload. Many educators are uncertain just how much more work is involved when using blogging as an instructional practice, particularly when it involves the modification of current content and assignments to the new teaching context. There is also the question of how much more work will be involved in administering the blog application, moderating/commenting learners’ blogs, as well as maintaining the class blog (as well as one’s own blog).

So, what can educators do if they just want to try out an educational application, such as blogs, to get a feel for using it, yet who do not yet want to commit to using it as part of an instructional strategy?

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netizenship • July 8, 2009

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