By Alan November
Blogging represents one of many tools that pioneering teachers are using to empower students to take more responsibility of managing their own work and adding value to the world. Educators are typically not neutral about blogging. There are fierce defenders and fierce critics. Each has an important voice. As Will Richardson points out, “One of the reasons we fear these technologies is because we as teachers don’t yet understand them or use them. But the reality is that our students already do. It’s imperative that we be able to teach our kids how to use the tools effectively and appropriately because right now they have no models to follow.”
“Never. I will never use a blog in my teaching.” My colleague, Chris Burnett, a writing/literature teacher in inner city Michigan for 12 – 14 year olds was clear about her feelings for blogging as she walked out of her first “How to Blog” workshop in the summer of 2004 at my Building Learning Communities Conference in Boston. Chris was a veteran teacher of more than twenty years who was piling up the reasons not to use this popular web communications tool. At the time, she was not alone. Here are common concerns I’ve heard from other teachers:
Blogs give too much freedom for students to express themselves
Teachers will never be able to control comments
Students and parents will have too much access to other students’ published work
Students will feel too much pressure to improve as they see the work and comments of others.