Monday, May 20, 2013

Edublog Talk




Read Student and Teacher Blogging that Succeed.

Now that we've started exploring the edublogging world, let's openly discuss possibilities for the classroom, fears, interests, challenges.

Please, share with the group your experiences and reflections on blogging here.

Food for thought:

Have you ever blogged? What has your blogging experience been ?
How do you envision blogging in the 21st century classroom?
What are the main challenges for edublogging?
Is blogging still too vague of a concept for you? Why?

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An account of educators who had just started blogging:


18 comments:

Graeme Hodgson said...

Hi Folks!

I'm excited about learning the secrets of effective blogging since my blogs tends to be 100% dedicated to photos... so not sure they count!

It will also be good to create an edublog account since some of my favourite ELT bloggers use Edublog and, unless I'm mistaken, you are only able to post comments if you too are an edublog user! (Or maybe that's just the configuration of the blogs I've visited).

So here go my initial reactions to the questions raised above:

I never blogged on a regular basis, but I did have a blog dedicated to films I'd seen where I reviewed, critiqued, included trailers etc. Then there are the blogs I created with pics of my kids, but these are really just repositories for photos!

I think the role of blogging in the 21st century is to give Ss a voice and an identity as authors/curators of content. The focus is less on the teacher and his/her opinions, views, interests (or syllabus) and more on what students REALLY want to say... on whatever topics THEY choose! There is huge potential for interaction and co-construction of meaning and understanding (learning in the Vygotskyan sense of growth in the Zone of Proximal Development).

Challenges for edublogging (for me) are basically a lack of time... with so many OTHER things to be done online, it's very hard to sit down and write as regularly as would be necessary (several times a week?) in order to keep a blog interesting. Still, for a class that meets a couple of times a week, it should be possible for students to contribute to a class blog, taking the pressure off the teacher. In effect, almost all homework could be done via the blog!

Blogging is not a vague concept... I enjoy reading blogposts... I'm just not convinced I have that much to say that hasn't already been said (or is being said) somewhere else in the blogosphere or on social media. No need to reinvent the wheel, afterall!

G.

Lisa Stembel said...

I completely agree with you Graeme - one of my biggest roadblocks to blogging personally is that I really don't feel like I have much to add that hasn't already been written about (and probably written much better) elsewhere on the web.

As for my students - I see how it could be useful, but the time issues are everywhere. My students seem to have a billion tests every week in school....they run from one extra-curricular activity to another. I consider it a success if I can get half the class to complete a homework assignment. I'm not sure how many would take the time needed in order to blog successfully....

In an ideal world, I can see how blogging would be a great tool to reach those students that don't seem to participate in class because of shyness or class size vs class time.

I did try blogging one semester with one of my advanced groups, but the results were not great. After a couple of weeks, none of the students were even checking the blog anymore. I honestly think that it wasn't a lack of interest - a conversation on the same subject in the classroom resulted in great feedback - but, on the blog - not one comment.... I feel that it is because of the time issue. It takes ten seconds to open your mouth and say something, but to go home, get online, check the blog and then respond....infinitely longer! Especially because what you say is forgotten almost immediately - what you write online is saved forever. You really have to think about what you write before you publish it - it takes a great deal more thought than a regular classroom discussion would...in my opinion.

Carla arena said...

Dear Lisa and Graeme,

You had very interesting points about blogging. The one about not having much to say, it so insanely ingrained in all of us, isn´t it? We sometimes lack the confidence to believe that, in fact, we ALWAYS have something to say that will impact someone´s life, make one reflect, take action. I guess that the main point is that it is not something tangible or visible. I´ve been blogging for many years, and I still find it surprising when someone comes to me and says how useful and inspiring what I wrote was for them. Probably this still amazes me because we never know how we are touching each other´s lives. On the other hand, that is the beauty of blogging - surprise, serendipity, connections and sharing.

As for time, I think it is now getting easier and easier to blog with our mobile devices. We can really blog on the go.

In relation to students´ motivation, of course there is the group profile, but from my experience with class blogging, what can really make a difference is the kind of post you have. And we should ask ourselves some questions: do they enhance interaction, a response? Are they exciting and motivating for the group? Does it spark curiosity? Or are we just repeating the recpetive mode in which we just post something that doesn´t even entice replies?

I´ve had great experiences with Mystery Guess blogging activities, international exchanges, literature discussion based on the dark texts of Edgar Allan Poe, teen-related topics, as well. They are all there in our Week 5 explorations for you to understand what I am talking about and take a look at it.

Graeme Hodgson said...

Thanks for this useful feedback, Carla. I shall certainly endeavour to entice responses by posting provocative or controversial questions, whuch actually reflects my personality. One of my posts already provoked an interesting response fron a complete stranger! Did you see at http://graemespot.blogspot.com?

Mariana Sucena said...

I have never blogged. The closest I was to a blog is that I have followed some friends and their adventures on blogs.
I participate at a wiki at school which is something a little bit similar to a blog: we share work ideas with other teachers.
Having a blog to give my students the opportunity of sharing their ideas while preparing their compositions is something that is on my mind for quite a while. I just cannot figure out how to deal with grading. I think this course might give me the courage to dare. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them!
For me, the main challenges are, besides my fear, students’ engagement in participating in the work. I feel that some students create excuses not do what the teacher suggests, not only teenagers, but also adults. Their most common excuse is lack of time, which I think is ridiculous because time is a matter of priority.
Now, I am going to create my own blog and start thinking of ways of putting it into practice with my students!

Roseli Serra said...

Hi everyone,

It's a long time since I've been thinking to start my own blog. I've read lots of blogs, mainly the ones related to education, ELT, EFL ESl and and technologies related to education.

At first I thought I was not brave enough to blog simply because I've read so many wonderful things that I thought: What am I going to say? Will anybody read my blog ? Why would they if there are so many famous ELT bloggers sharing amazing things every minute?
Then, going to the IATEFL in Liverpool last April, some friends encouraged me to blog. I then started blogging a little time before this course started.

My experience on blogging has been good so far. It is a bit scaring, it makes me feel anxious but I think blogging is one of the best ways to share ideas and gives you the opportunity to express yourself freely, share opinions, receive comments and make the difference in some way. Before blogging on my own blog, I’ve participated in collaborative blogs and the experiences have been very positive.

As for the 21 century classroom, I think blogging, as well as the use of technology in the classroom, is a reality (rather than a tendency) no one can deny. It's been used for some years in many countries and there are amazing experiences with very effective results. I keep saying: There’s no way back: SS and teachers are no longer limited to being consumers of information. We are now collaborators and also producers of information. Every person has the ability to contribute ideas and experiences to the large body of knowledge that is the internet.

A good reason for blogging is that our SS profile has changed completely. There is no room for the very traditional classroom simply because the youngest SS (and even lots of adults) have some particular characteristics such as:

• They are plugged in,
• Mainly for the youngest TV is just background noise
• Studying / working isn’t the whole world
• They are multitasking
• They do care about what the others think.

In addition, using a blog makes learning independent of time and place, moves teaching from a certain time and place to teaching anytime and anywhere, not to mention that it gives learners time to reflect. If we think about our classrooms and face to face lessons, blogging is then of great help for both teaching and learning.

Regarding the main challenges for edublogging , I’d say that one of the hardest things is to involve the teachers and the students . In the learning community I work for I notice, from my own experience and from my colleagues’, that blogging is still not seen as an effective tool /way of teaching and/or learning. Additionally, for Brazilian cultural reasons, blogging might be seen as something reserved to fashion, journalism or nonsense. So the biggest challenge has to do with creating a culture of blogging as an effective educational tool and work hard to implement this culture amongst schools, educators and language institutes.

Blogging is not a vague concept for me at all! It’s a very collaborative way of teaching, learning, researching and making your PLN grows no matter you are a teacher or a student. It’s been a while since I’m used to the language of blogging.

I see blogging as a reality and as a good tool to improve teaching and learning. It’s real, it’s possible, and it’s there.

Roseli Serra said...

Hi again,

I'd like to recommend this blog suggested by a close friend who is a great blogge.

Hope you like it!

http://primarytech.global2.vic.edu.au/2013/01/28/10-tips-for-introducing-blogging-into-your-classroom/

May 26, 2013 at 7:33 PM

AlexCTJ said...

Hello, Everyone.

I have had a blog since 2010. I have mostly used it as a place to post web content related to my classes to my students. Especially in my Legal English class, where we use tons of authentic materials that are available online (court documents, legal journal articles, legal blogs, videos, seminars on legal issues and cases, etc). My purpose has generally been just to have a place my students can go to for access to materials we need for class. I have also posted quizzes and other exercises for students to work on at home. In that sens it has been very effective. I have not used blogging with my classes in the ways blogging is being described and discussed here.

I can very well see, however, how instituting collective, collaborative, public blogging can be of value in the EFL/ESL classroom. As som of our colleagues have mentioned before, however, our students may not have the time or the interest. Of course, in the EFL situation, everything we doo, and blogging will be the same, competes with our students' real life interests in their own language. I mean, the English class does not carry the same weight or importance in EFL students' lives as what goes on i their regular school or work lives in their first language. In that sense, I am back to the issue of ow much of an educator do I need to be for my EFL students, as opposed to just being their English teacher. That is especially a consideration when we are talking about adult professional learners, who at this point in time probably come to my classroom from life and school experiences that pre-date the Internet and all the digital literacy that is at the basis of effective blogging.

I suppose that one way to get students on board with blogging for their English class is to make it required and to grade it. That comes with its own implications.

The other point about adult EFL learners is the business of having a worldwide audience. A lot of times, those students may refrain from posting on an open blog because they are insecure not about their ideas, but their English. If it is threaening and time consuming for English native speakers to blo in an elementary or high school setting, it can be much, much more so for adult professionals writing with limited English.

I am not knocking blogging, absolutely not. However, I do often feel the need to consider the other side of things and to personalize the discussion such that it is more situated on my particular teaching setting.

Carla arena said...

Dear Roseli, Mariana and Alexandre,

I´ve touched very interesting points, and reflected upon the main challenges of blogging. You´re right, Alexandre, about the constraints life imposes our students. Grading? Some teachers make blogging part of their grading system. I never did. I always felt it should be something that students feel compelled to contribute and not forced. I started blogging with my students when I had almost no tech available, so I´d print the blog posts from our partners around the globe, and they´d answer them on paper! Then, things evolved, I tried different approaches to blogging with mystery guests, international exchanges, discussions of interest of students. They worked, but I guess because of my enthusiasm and the kinds of activities, they felt like contributing to the conversation. Not all did, not all were engaged, but I always felt if I could encourage one, then that was good enough for me.

Roseli Serra said...

Thank you so much for your kind reply, Carla! I fell have something in common: Enthusiasm. That's what matters most. I think the same way, If I can engage one, I'll get more soon. I am a believer!

Carla arena said...

Me too, Roseli! And I guess this makes a difference in our practices. I always believe magic can happen even if it takes a while!

themer said...

Hi there.
Some years ago, I had a blog as part of my webpage. The idea was to have a space I could use to jot down whatever I wanted. At first, I was enthusiastic about it and updated it frequently. My first posts received lots of comments and feedback, so I kept writing. As time passed, I grew less disciplined about my posts and, naturally, feedback and comments decreased. I guess a couple of years after I had created it, my cousin and I decided to restructure my webpage and the blog was one of the things that were cut. In fact, the practical application of Facebook and other social media and the escalating lack of spare time have prevented me from having a blog. Whatever I feel like sharing, I use Facebook and have Facebook groups with my students that have been effective. I say they are effective because we interact using the group; however, I think it might be more useful. The one that gets closest to my expectations is the Teens 6 group. I reckon I have used the post as I would use blog posts, but students are still too shy in their contributions. I think blogging might improve the level of interaction among us and between my students and me. With all the resources Web 2.0 provides us with, this could be the big break I was waiting for to finally improve online participation on my students' part.

Kare Moura said...

Hi Y'all!
Guys, I've never blogged nor really followed blogs. It looks so personal and it seems to be such a big responsibility in regards to digital footprinting that it scares me a little. And yes, the concept is still a little vague for me.
From the readings and videos suggested, I believe that blogging is a great tool to help students socialize, reflect on specific topics and comment responsibly about other people’s posts. Also, it empowers and encourages them to have their own say about anything. The advantages of working with blogs are many, as listed in “Rationale for educational blogging”, and I believe it is inevitable that we’ll all end up edublogging sooner or later. It’s a demand from 21st C classroom.
In my case, I believe the easiest way to begin working with a blog would be to have a “comment blog”, in which students would comment on specific topics, although I’d like to see how a “class blog” would really work.
Let’s see what I can do…
Bye for now,
Karé.

Liberato said...

Dear WebTools friends,

What an enriching Saturday morning after reading all your comments and shared experiences & worries about blogging! Thank you so much for sharing!

Let me then share a few thoughts with you:

I do not blog and I have never blogged. My reasons for not doing it before have nothing to do with a lack of time: I am a very busy person, but I agree with Maria Sucena: it has to do with prioritizing, and I have never made blog writing a priority for me, even though I spend time reading other people’s blogs.

I also have issues with privacy on the web. I have never been cyber bullyed or cyber insulted, but I have seen some nasty comments out there in all kinds of online media. So I would like to get advice from you WebTools bloggers, before I start blogging educationally, on how I can safeguard my students from being cyber bullyed or cyber insulted once we start an educational blogging Project.

My third reason for not having blogged before is that I did not know what subject I should focus my blogging on, but now there is this idea that ocurred to me just a few minutes ago, and I think I will use that as a starting point for my first blogging experience. More on that soon!

Cheers,
Liberato

Luciana Castro said...

Hi, I read all of your comments about blogging and here is my own opinion. Almost everything in a digital world is new for me. I've reflecting about all things that I've been learning during this course. I never blogged, effectively. Actually, I never used the internet like as I am using now. Until now, I used it just to check e-mails, read news, connect with friends, watch videos and prepare some stuff for my students. About blogging, sometimes when I was looking for something new I used to check some of bloggings.
Now, after reading, watching videos and researching about blogging it's clearly for me to identify the mainly aspect of it: engaged people (students or not) by sharing ideas and experiences (this is my opinion).
I also believe that the main challenge for edublogging is keep it working. When I think about creating my own blog, I have many questions in my head: Am I able to do it? Do I have time to write, research, interact through it? And my fears appear.
One of the reason that I believe teachers didn't use blogs is because at some schools we really didn't have time to work with different types of teaching. We are part of an old concept about education, we have to follow the rules, the syllabus, the books and our employers didn't encourage us to try new techniques.
Blogging is not a vague concept for me, i found great stuff on them I just have to encourage myself to create my own and start to use it.
Cheers,
Luciana.

Graeme Hodgson said...

Hi Liberato! Great that you are feeling motivated to start blogging.. and I'm very curious to hear about the theme/topic you have in mind!

As for cyberbullying on blogs.. that's very simple to avoid if it's a concern you have. You can simply set up your blog so all comments are moderated, or only comments from your friends are allowed.

Personally, however, since we always have the option of removing unwanted comments, ads etc... I prefer to leave my blog open to anonymous comments and this encourages people who may not have a Google account or other blog (such as wordpress) to leave their opinions too.

Carla arena said...

Wow, guys! Though most of you said you´ve never blogged before, I guess you all have a natural feel for it. And I can just see that from your comments here. Karé and Liberato, about the digital footprint issues and cyberbullying, I must say that the first thing is that being on the Web nowadays has just gotten to be an irreversible trend. Aren´t you on Facebook, for example? You can be much more exposed there than through blogging. What we need to do, though, is to do things professionally, even when it is related to personal things. So, even if we share photos and personal bits of our lives, we need to do it in a way that is ethical and that it is OK to be seen by others. Educators are public characters by nature, so we need to make sure we are behaving properly online. Liberato, I´ve been blogging with my students for the past 9 years, and I must say I´ve never had an issue with it. And I agree with Graeme to leave things open and just monitor the online spaces.

Luciana, I´m glad that you are taking your time to explore things to realize that the Net is way more than just getting information. It is a space for creation, collaboration, conversations...

Themer, you´ve found that other social media spaces work for you and your students. That´s fine! There´s no formula here. In fact, I used FB groups with my students, but this semester, for example, I´ve realized that they are not there anymore. So, we´ve been communicating through "What´s app". All of my teens are there! So, I try to work according to the students´ styles and preferences.

Thaís Baumgartner said...

I have never blogged and I share with you the feeling of wanting to blog, but never been that dauntless!
I think the mains reasons to blog in the classroom are that students will be engaging meaningfully as they will be talking about what they want and because their writings will be read by their peers. Besides that, they will be developing their critical thinking. One more thing I like from the reading is the fact that students from the school mentioned write everyday and reflect on their learning. I think this is a great way for students to become accountable for their school life. I wish something like this could be done in our schools.
I believe that one of the difficulties of blogging would be having all students participate, due to shyness, fear of being exposed or lack of time. I don’t know… I have never tried it, so I’m just wondering. It might depend on the group of students one has. What do you think, Carla? What is your experience about it?
Anyways, I am excited to start blogging!
Thaís