In Steve Hargadon’s Encyclopedia Britannica Blog, “Moving Toward Web 2.0 in K-12 Education,” he identifies the following educational benefits of Web 2.0 (more fully defined in his post):
- Engagement – act of content creation
- Authenticity – creating for very real audiences
- Participation – being a contributor to the world’s body of knowledge
- Openness and Access to Information – a greater willingness to share information
- Collaboration – the building of and participation in personal learning networks and communities
- Creativity – increase of creative capability
- Passionate Interest and Personal Expression – creation of online portfolios of which people are passionate
- Discussion – environment for learning how to talk about things
- Asynchronous Contribution – ability to contribute to discussions over time
- Proactivity – participating actively and independently
- Critical Thinking – using critical thinking to evaluate content
Considering these aspects of Web 2.0, the potential for educational use of the blog in particular seems quite strong.
According to Blogger, which has provided blog space for users since 1999, a blog is...
A personal diary. A daily pulpit. A collaborative space. A political soapbox. A breaking-news outlet. A collection of links. Your own private thoughts. Memos to the world. In simple terms, a blog is a web site, where you write stuff on an ongoing basis. New stuff shows up at the top, so your visitors can read what's new. Then they comment on it or link to it or email you. Or not.
"Blog" is short for "weblog" since blogs first started out as logs of links to other Web sites. Linking to and commenting on others' blogs or news stories are still important components to many blogs. However, blogs have branched out to include any type of personal commentary, reflection, or journaling, usually written by a single person. The other important component to most blogs is the ability for visitors to leave comments on the blog entries.
New blog entries are often created every day. Keeping up with one's favorite blogs could be a chore (especially blogs for a whole classroom or multiple classrooms), but through RSS (Real Simple Syndication), you can subscribe to blogs and get updated content all in one place. We'll explore the topic of RSS in depth in the future--so be sure to check back.
Take a look at this short video on how blogs work and what they're used for:
In regards to using blogs in the classroom, Will Richardson discusses ideal blogging: "students using their blogs to really try to connect with their readers around the topics that they are reading and writing about. To do more than reflect, but to really articulate new thinking or understanding in the writing." Like any meaningful learning, it takes a lot of effort and time to get students to be thoughtful writers and commentators.
Are you currently using blogs in your classroom? Are authentic conversations and critical thinking actually occurring in the blogs you see students write? What ideas do you have for making blogs be a more effective medium for thinking, learning, and sharing? We'd love to hear your experiences and thoughts.
To view the first article of this series on Web 2.0 resources and their use in the classroom, read, "What's All the Hype about Web 2.0?"
For more on the topic of Web 2.0 resources, continue to the next blog in this series, Wikis 101.