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Why Blogs are good tools for an English class

October 24th, 2007 · 6 Comments · CyberEnglish, Technology and Education

My English 11 students posted comments on a class Blog that I developed this summer, hoping to integrate CyberEnglish ideas into my junior class. We do a great job in ninth grade but seem to tumble back into the 19th century after that.

The first question I posted had to do with Blogging itself and how Bloggers are democratic voices in an important way, or at least can be. I wanted my students to think about how Blogging is or could be something relevant to their own lives.

Of course, being in the Blogosphere myself, my perception is skewed. I do think Bloggers are important. I do think the rise of independent voices is necessary in times of corporate controlled media. But Blogs are important for another reason.

As I was reading the posts from my juniors, I was impressed with two things. One, they were more prolific in their blog posts. When they write in class in their paper response journals, I’m lucky if they push themselves to 100 words in ten minutes. It’s a grueling process, somehow, for them to write on paper.

When I pointed this out, one girl said, “I can type so much faster than I can write.” And it’s true. It’s true for almost everyone. And don’t we pretty much convert them to typing everything in 9th grade, then revert? I can see why it’s frustrating.

Secondly, most of their posts are articulate. Seriously–articulate. This from people who say they don’t know anything or pretend not to care. Students do care how they sound in public spaces. This is something I know from CyberEnglish.

But the key is that the Blog space has to be public.

In trying to compromise with CIPA and the restraints schools feel about students and the Internet, class management tools like Moodle offer Blog space within them. The trouble with this Blog space is that it’s pseudo Blog space–it’s not public. And therefore not as valuable.

The one thing I wish were true about Blogs is that they’d have layered commenting. What I mean is that it would be nice to comment on comments in a hierarchial structure, like a threaded discussion.

It is important for the world’s citizens to be able publish their thinking in Blogs, etc. , but it is even more important for those thoughts to generate debate.

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