Saturday, January 19, 2008

How Often Do You Have to Use Web 2.0 Tools?

U Tech Tips » Blog Archive » Teachers as blogging models

Jeff Utecht on his U Tech Tips expresses the ultimate goal for integrating technology into the classroom that I would recommend to teachers.
I’m not sure how many times I say it in my k12online conference presentation, but if you want blogging to work in your classroom…I mean really change the way business is done. It can not be “one more thing you do” it has to be what you do. It has to replace the way you write, communicate, and give and accept assignments. It needs to be a place that both the teacher and the student can look to and understand that this is a learning vehicle. Both the student and the teacher must take part in the learning that a blog can offer.

There is power to be had in these tools. But only when we commit ourselves to learning them, think about them on a deeper level for learning, and take ownership in the learning ourselves, will they have a real affect on our educational system.
Now, if this is the ultimate goal, what is the starting expectation for teachers learning about blogging for the first time?

I visited an introductory Web 2.0 professional development session at our high school yesterday. The presenter mentioned that in his experience teachers get fired up to use a blog with their classes but after a few times the interest and commitment fizzle out. He recommended that teachers "have a plan" for why and how they would use a blog and that they commit to using the blog five times a semester to begin, which would me ten time a year or once a month.

I'm don't believe ten times a year is the best way to help set an expectation for use of blogs in class when teachers are beginning to use blogging in class.

What advice would you give to teachers starting out using blogs in classes if the ultimate goal is as Jeff expresses it above?


Moturoa said...

I think I would tell them to start up a personal blog first to practise with supportive family and friends first. Pick an easy blogging platform like Blogger.

When they have got the hang of how the thing works and how to add some photos to make it more interesting then try to record some classroom happenings.

Publicise it in a couple of classrooms via a written newsletter and invite feedback.

Let children post at least once a week and watch the thing grow. That growth could well be the start of bigger and better things. I agree that once a month is not enough. People would visit the blog and not find anything new and give up visiting again.

Allanah K

Dennis Richards said...

1) I agree with your advice to develop your understanding of blogging (and I'd add web 2.0 tools) on a personal level before you officially go public.

2) Also, understanding the multimedia potential of a blog through pictures and eventually video and podcasts is a great suggestion.

3) Asking the children to post once a week highlights the need to create audience interest through interesting and ever-changing content which is another important aspect of beginning to establish the relevance of your class blog.

As always, thanks for your comment, Allanah K!


What do you think?

Does an interested audience of readers and commenters feed the student's need for a rationale for contributing to the blog and a feeling of pride in their class blog?

Any suggestions on the type of assignments these teachers could try (4 a month) so that students and others want to go on the blog to leave a comment on their work?

Charlene Chausis said...

As far as assignments go... what are the conversations already occurring in the classroom? Blogging can provide the means to extend conversation to an authentic audience. What audience would provide learning that would not happen in class?

Dennis Richards said...

I suspect that writing for an audience beyond the classroom assumes the subject and the writing are interesting enough to engage someone to respond.

An example of student writing that is engaging an audience and thus can provide us an anchor by which to measure our assignments is a student created blog called Students 2.0 at

A few of their blog post titles beg the question: what kind of an assignment could I give that would result in that piece of writing:

1) 21st Century Education: Thinking Creatively

2) Average Doesn't Cut It Anymore

3)Teaching the Process of Design (or, making student videos interesting)

4) Royal Changes

Moturoa said...

Without an audience you are writing in air.

That sense of audience, participation and conversation is what blogging is all about.

The most obvious place to start- to me that is- is introductions. Where area you from, what sort of things you like, what your interests are- either on a class or individual level.

If there are photos of kids it motivates the children's parents to participate. (I understand there are issues with that in cyber-safety terms). It opens the classroom up for sharing and transparency.

I encourage comments at the beginning of a school year by overing rewards (read bribes) for joining the journey.

Rewards for commenting

An idea that many use is a discussion of a shared book or Voicethread based on a book!

A shared book with someone we know


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