One of the greatest challenges I have had as a literacy educator is to reconcile the teaching of the strictly academic writing curriculum with real needs of learners whose interests in academic writing are limited.
The major obstacle for literacy instruction seems to be that despite curriculum guidelines that require training in formal writing, most learners don’t want to learn this stuff. They don’t really need it so much for their everyday lives.
Every single time a course is revised, or a new course proposed, the designer/writer/reviewer needs to come up with ways to prove that it is worthwhile by speaking the language of performance objectives and learning outcomes, by justifying the effectiveness of the course in terms of how specific activities match up with specific objectives.
In this kind of climate, does encouraging blogging with learners have a chance of acceptance? And when I refer to blogging, I am also referring to the other dozen or so technologies that blogs need to make them work well online.
I have been blogging from the perspective of a graduate student engaged in a demanding academic program, and have been wondering what can be done to encouareg literacy learners. I have sometimes doubted that what I had learned had much relevance for this group. Assessment, learning objectives, sequencing, and timelines, all are set assumptions about how courses are created. The problem is, those assumptions sometimes hold little weight with those literacy practitioners and tutors working with adult literact learners.
I am not saying do away with the academic part of the instruction. I am saying introduce a complementary paradigm for allowing literacy learners to choose to NOT pursue academic writing, and instead pursue personal writing instead.
Most of my learners don’t see the point of writing essays, but do see the point of writing down family stories. Some students don’t feel comfortable giving a formal, stand-up presentation. However, those same students would enjoy talking and sharing ideas in a round-table discussion among peers over a potluck.
What can blogging do for literacy learners?
For one thing, blogging on its own cannot be justified for literacy learners without the support that face-to-face instruction brings. There, that is said.
Secondly, blogging cannot duplicate the face-to-face form of instruction. It is not the same as a forum, either. Blogging cannot be justified as a replacement for these formats. Okay, next up.
Blogging can encourage literacy learners to participate in self-sponsored writing, writing that is personal, reflective and emotional -in effect, meaningful and passionate.
Blogging can encourage literacy learners to participate in blogging circles that support performance writing, and enabling them to share their self-performed texts. Instructors can empower learners by modelling how they can make use of blogs for spoken word events and learning talent showcases, or learning feasts. In effect, instructors can play a pivotal role in encouraging their learners to engage in purposeful talk.
The integration of blogging into everyday instruction to encourage literacy learners to complete perfomance writing and self-sponsored writing can open up many opportunities for meaningful, transformative learning.
Here is a table summary of the concepts I have described above that argue for the introduction of blogging for literacy within the Personal sphere:
|Blogging for Literacy||Personal Sphere|
|Writing Type||Self-sponsored writing||Non-Formal Performance writing|
|Connections Made through…||Reflection, rehearsal, review, revise||Shared insights, story-telling, reporting, witnessing, visioning|
|Strategies/Methods||Visualizing, self-reflecting, incorporating, bracketing, scanning, filtering, analyzing, comparing, evaluating||Dialoguing, interacting, cooperating, collaborating, participating, sharing|
|Assessment||Self-assessments, interviews, testimonials||Learning events, open panels, showcases|
Listen to the podcast: personal blogging 4 literacy learners
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