Walking Stick Blogger

A Learning Space for Literacy and English Language Learners

Addressing Critics of Blogs

I have been having conversations with colleagues, and I am getting interesting feedback on the use of blogging for instruction. Several comments have been made dismissing edu-blogging as useful. Blogging has been referred to by some educators as “past news”, “a waste of time”, and “time-consuming”.

I would like to address these detractors, and the purpose of this blog post is to engage in a critical discussion on the promises and perils of the edu-blog.

I am not a proponent of grafting established, efficient methods of instruction into blogging activities, and heralding it as the universal method that replaces all other types of instruction. I am interested in identifying compelling reasons for what edu-blogging can be used for, how it can augment and enhance learning in entirely unique ways.

One educator complained about the screens and screens of text that needed to be scrolled through, the overload from the glut of ideas that did not pertain to the readers’ interests at all. Is this an objection about the use of blogs? Or was it indeed about the legitimate beef of being compelled (as part of a course) to weave through the half-digested thoughts of others? Perhaps the objection was the way a discussion activity that was better suited to a threaded forum was grafted into a blog? You have to comment on the original post, as well as to others’ comments, and do this in a timely, meaningful way. Not easy to do in a blogging application.

Sifting through and responding to the deluge of ideas is time-consuming, especially if unstructured. This is very true. But I consider this not so much a criticism of blogging than the consequence of poorly designed activities.  One central principle for designing activities for instruction is: One should never waste a learner’s time.

As for blogging being a learning technology that belongs to the past, hmm, time will tell. But the issue that repeatedly emerges is whether learners want more control over their own ideas, and seek more ownership. The reluctance of students to “feel at home” within Content Management Systems makes blogs a compelling application for lifelong learners interested in cultivating a living voice that becomes a legacy, a roadmap of their learning journeys. I think more learners will prefer blogging, because it is easy to use, easy to set up, and easy to control ownership over.

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netizenship • July 8, 2009

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