By Josie Fraser
Recent news regarding student use of web logs has not been particularly positive. Fears that students may misuse the platform or, conversely, find themselves at the mercy of evil blog trawlers, have led to institutions calling a halt to student blogging – in at least one instance, even in the student’s own time. Rather than looking at how the curriculum might best address the task of supporting learners in becoming responsible, web-savvy citizens, sites such as MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/) and Xanga (http://www.xanga.com/) are, instead, being outlawed.
And it isn’t just obviously recreational sites that are being blocked on school networks. Although educators, learners and researchers have been using blogs constructively for over five years now, educational web logs – edublogs – are currently being blocked at district level by school authorities (see http://incsub.org/blog/2005/edublogs-being-blocked). In effect, this means that despite the recognition by multiple governments of the value of e-learning (to individuals and economies), and despite an emerging body of research and numerous examples of great educational practice, web logs – which provide a simple way for educators and students to create and participate in collaborative, conversational and distributed learning communities – are being excluded from the day-to-day business of education.
Last year saw the second international Edublog Awards, a web-based event that recognises the many diverse and imaginative ways in which web logs are being used within education, and promotes positive and creative uses of new web technologies in the classroom. Peer- nominated blogs from across the globe compete in 10 categories, these being:
Most innovative edublogging project, service or programme.