Blogging is different from classroom writing (1)
There are so many reasons why students should start using blogs, and the first one that pops to mind for me is that you can “own” what you write.
So often I have seen learners’ eyes go cloudy when required to write to form, pumping out assignments they have divested any energy or meaning. They write because they want the grade.
With the blogging, however, the learners realize that there is a potential audience (even an audience of one). I ask students to consider what they enjoy communicating about, and incorporate that into the writing exercise. Personalizing the writing activities, and asking the students to publish their work in their blogs, is a strong motivator.
Privacy concerns jump to mind: how can we ensure that our students are not putting themselves out there, without any limits? How can we ensure they have been careful, have weighed the risks of over-doing it, revealing personal details?
The use of the avatars (personas in the blogosphere protecting the learners’ identities) is key to preventing inappropriate disclosure. Students also work with a learning companion, their instructor, or another trusted learning partner. Their drafts of their blog posts are reviewed before final posting to the public blog. The students are asked to create drafts of their posts first, especially those who are new to the blogging process.
Thus, the first part of the blogging process needs an apprenticeship, and the blog needs to be considered as an idea incubator.