Blogging For Educators: Initial Considerations
I have introduced blogging for adult literacy learners to generate their ideas and get them to start to write, to practise what I consider as essential: externalization of internal dialogue and finding personal voice. Many of the learners I work with are of First Nations descent, so the intent for blogging is not to impart information, per se, but to share feelings and intuitive impressions with others, to heal self and others, to pass forward experiences to others who may share the same state.
Asking learners to embark on a learning journey using blogging is asking learners to take a step into the unknown. Blogging is not just about writing skills, it is about cultivating critical self-reflection and promoting self-efficacy and confidence to give voice to ideas and express and discuss opinions among others in a respectful, inclusive manner. Blogging is about giving oneself permission to engage fellow learners and oneself, as both, simultaneously, as a novitiate and mentor. Blogging involves tackling threshold concepts that can lead to personal transformations:
Emerging roles as a learner/speaker
Identity of the individual and embedded selves
Holding aloft a number of different perspectives without identifying with them as part of one’s own identity
Accomodating shifts of perspective when views collide or bounce off one another
Merging horizons of perspective of self/selves and others
Sponsorship and healing
Advocacy for personal vision
Cultivating personal voice
Offering constructive feedback to self and others
Sharing one’s views in a blog requires vulnerability, a confidence of one’s voice, and an ability to reflect on ideas as separate from one’s identity, so that through the sharing of ideas with others and within oneself, stories might become more apparent, more complex, more contextualized. Sharing one’s intuitions, one’s fuzziness of thought, can open up insights as to how we juggle our “roles”, in relation to others, in relation to our dreams, hopes, expectations, demands.
Setting up blogging within a course requires careful planning, a clear set of goals and expectations. But most importantly, a course that requires blogging from its learners needs to build gradually upon an equalized, respectful give-and-take between all who participate.
Blogging as a technology, as a teaching tool, can be most effective when the conventional mindset that permeates educational practice be set aside. There can be no room for dependency, insecurity, compulsion, or worry between learners and mentors. This paradigm exists to various degrees in a classroom; it cannot exist in a blogging environment.