Tips for Encouraging Anonymous Blogging
I think it is important to allow learners to interact anonymously if they so choose. The edublogs.org application enables the use of student avatars. I would recommend, however, that the use of anonymous learning activities be tied to specific codes of conduct to clearly outline the rules, etiquette, and methods of enforcement for users, and warnings for rule-breakers, including suspension of service. An excellent example where the anonymous blogs would serve learners is the use of debates, where learners engage others in roles, taking on the opinions and attitudes and character of the specific characters from Greece/Rome/Mock Commons/League of Nation, etc. historical trials. They would then engage each other in “gladiatorial” discussion/combat. In addition, the participants would need to work as teams, sharing resources and ideas for portraying these characters realistically based on the research they did. In effect, for the men in this context, the opportunity to compete in verbal exchanges in character would motivate them to read, do research, collaborate, and engage in debate while adopting another’s perspective.
This type of activity is for the performer, the individual who thrives on rehearsal and adopting roles and running with them for the purpose of sharing their persona (their performance, not their own selves) with a public other. For the independent learner seeking to demonstrate learning under the shroud of anonymity, such an activity encourages self-rehearsal and performance as a self-instruction and monitoring strategy.
I have given this example of how these specific learners can engage each other anonymously as debators within a group blog. In their own individual blogs, they would reflect on the process and their experiences, free to share their thoughts (or not) with others and with the instructor. Again, for them to blog autonomously, a great deal of scaffolding and modelling needs to be provided over an indefinite period of time, not limited to typical semester-length courses, but instead extending over years.