Walking Stick Blogger

A Learning Space for Literacy and English Language Learners

EduBlogging for Formal Institutions vs. EduBlogging for Lifelong Learning

At TechTicker, the author, Mike Bogle, wrote about the challenge of educational change and his opening paragraph outlines the conundrum:

Participatory culture is significant because of its capacity to connect people, facilitate dialogue and cultivate the growth of a free-flowing landscape. This culture is built upon flexibility and freedom, as well as the capacity for individuals to “transcend their immediate surroundings to engage in a wider, more complex world.”  He explained that although this is a great thing from the standpoint of individuals, it does not really transfer the benefits to the level of organizations.

Bogle goes on: “…a shadow economy of learning and teaching has emerged outside standing structures rather than growing in symbiosis within them.”  There now exists a “…thriving network of activity and exploration that largely fails to trickle back to institutions.”

I am intrigued by his question: “Is education destined to be constantly in conflict with itself, with individuals and guerilla groups moving as rogue factions beneath the radar of traditional systems – if not breaking from the traditional model altogether?”

To the extent that formal education serves corporate masters, and designs curriculum geared to preparing learners only for jobs, and to the extent that education is synonomous with the techno-rational claims that all learning is observable as products, and that successful demonstration of learning outcomes equals mastery, then the gap will grow wider and wider to become a chasm.

Take the instance of educational blogging. Blogging within traditional models of education are consistently inadequately meeting expectations of the educators, and generating a ever larger group of reluctant, anxious bloggers. It could be argued that the large majority of edublogs serve the interests of the educators, and in turn are serving the needs of the institutions.  The students come second. Rationalizations abound about preparing students for the workplace, for life, etc. Undoubtedly. However, students are not asked how they want to use blogging to learn….for themselves.


What is considered important in blogging? Social interaction. Presence. Posting. Commenting, Reflecting, Summarizing – all activities led by the instructor. How much consideration is given to the learners’ identities? What if educators started first with the premise that learners capacities for engagement in a participatory culture mattered most? How might the educator generate more participation from learners? What is in fact participation? Are students inclined to participate with others? Or work independently? Formal education has a tremendous resonsibility for cultivating the skills for effective engagement in the new era of connected learning.

Once learners transition through becoming self-directed learners within formal education requiring support from faculty and engage most of their activity in autonomous learning activity via blogging, or social networking, they have developed the required skills for auto-didactic learning, determining the objectives, mode of assessment, resources and instructional strategies, and mentors/peers to accomplish their own learning goals. EduBlogging is as much concerned about providing the support and mentoring to reach autonomous learner status, as it is with what happens afterward, when learners engage in lifelong learning. As a technology, edu-blogging offers learners sustained, lifelong control over the means for their learning, independent of learning institution, and the implications of this have long-term, dramatically disruptive implications for formal education. Edu-Blogging provides the means for independent learning at a much higher caliber than ever offered before, providing learners with the option to study as cognitive apprentices with reputable, professional educators. The role of the autonomous educators of the future will grow and strengthen as more and more student bloggers acquire the skills to become independent of formal institutions, and instead seek to engage educators of high social capital.

The “rogue” educators, the edupunk movement, the visionaries, offer possibilities. The connectivism courses are extraordinary – they are challenging the limits of the definition of traditional formal education, shaking things up.

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netizenship • July 13, 2009

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