Blogs > Liberty and Power > Blogs for Classes

Aug 19, 2004 7:27 am

Blogs for Classes

Interesting trendspotting piece in the NYT about teachers using blogs as a way to facilitate exchanges with and among students. One notable observation is that blogging, unlike course-management web software developed specifically for classroom use, is easier to use. That’s interesting, and there’s a lesson there about software development, I’m sure. But the question is, is this effective pedagogy, or just riding a wave? According to the article, “One of the goals of classroom blogs, advocates say, is to get students to write more often.” Ok, so far so good, easy enough to measure that. On the other hand, “Critics also worry that the casual nature of writing on the Web may encourage bad habits that are hard to break, like e-mail-style abbreviations, bad grammar and poor spelling.” (What profiteth a teacher should he or she get students to write more, but more poorly?) The predictable response to this: “While some teachers who run blogs encourage students to write out their entries on paper first and then post them online as if they were publishing the work, others view blog writing as more free-flowing."Blogging is a different form of writing," Mrs. Dudiak said."They should proofread, but we are more concerned about the content, not grammar."”
Ah, the “different form of writing” line. Holy Ebonics Debate, Batman! But note the false dichotomy there – content not grammar. If the grammar is bad, the content is obscured. Good writing needs to be good in more than one sense. As George Orwell noted long ago, sloppy writing breeds sloppy thinking, and vice versa.
But that’s not an objection to any particular medium in which the writing takes place. I’m sure one can also use classblogs to encourage and develop more careful writing and thinking. Bottom line:"If it gets kids excited about learning," [Assistant Principal] Mrs. Contner said,"we might as well try it."

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