What Is a Blog?

Wikipedia defines a blog as, "A weblog (usually shortened to blog, but occasionally spelled web log or weblog) is a web-based publication consisting primarily of periodic articles, most often in reverse chronological order."

Blogging is the posting of journal-like pages to a website. While these pages can contain photos or media, they are primarily focused on the easy ability to post written thoughts to a website. The postings are organized chronologically. Typically, a blog "post" can be "commented" on by others, allowing for a dialogue on a the topic of the post. Teachers and educators have used blogs to allow for what is commonly called "peer review," meaning that students can post writings or assignments to the web, and other students can respond or encourage through the comment feature.

In a broader and more educational system, blogs are about communicating. You observe your experience, reflect on it, and then write about it. Other people read your reflections, respond from their perspectives by commenting or writing their own blog article. You read their perspectives, often learn something through their eyes, and write some more.

  1. Blogging is about reading and writing.
  2. Literacy is about reading and writing.
  3. Blogging is about literacy. (dfw)

Educational Blogging

Educational Blogging is blogging by students, teachers, administrators, industry experts, and other involved entities that focus primarily on the educational process and educational interests.

This Website

In the context of this website, we will focus primarily on the use of blogging as an educational tool that teachers introduce to their students, then use as a means of promoting learning. One of the great educational benefits of the read/write web, and blogging particularly, is the opportunity for the student to become a "teacher" by presenting material to an audience. When we teach, we learn.

Uses for Blogging in Education

Teacher Communication

Teachers will often start a blog for providing communication to students, parents, or other teachers. Sometimes this is just the posting of homework or other assignments in one easy-to-find location. Other times this can be a richer description of the things taking place in the classroom, specifically drawing the parents into what their children are working on, or for students who have been absent. This type of blog can also take advantage of the comment feature for students and parents to ask questions or for clarification, where the answer would be of interest to all the readers.

Dialogue Generation

A teacher blog that posts questions about current subject matter can be a great way to introduce students to responding in writing and contributing collaboratively. For instance, a teacher might ask specific thought-provoking questions about a book the class is reading, and ask for students to respond through the comments feature with their ideas. This is often done as a voluntary exercise to help demonstrate the uses of blogs in easy steps.

Student Blogs

The providing of each student with an individual blog seems to generate the most significant enthusiasm for blogging among students. Whether done through special programs that allow strict teacher control and filtering on the blog posts and comments, or through public services with parent and teacher oversight, students with individual blogs have an opportunity to discover the work and joy of communicating their ideas in written form, and then getting feedback from others. Sometimes the blogs are not made public, and the feedback is just from classmates or specifically-allowed individuals; other times, and more often with older students, the feedback can come from the wider audience of the World Wide Web. Most often public student blogs are done under a nickname and without any personal details, so that the incredible excitement that can come from communicating with a global audience does not place the student in harm's way. Student blogging has to be overseen with coaching and training to make sure that both that personal data is not communicated and that blog posts are appropriate.

Teacher Blogs

Teachers can blog for each other about their experiences teaching, their philosophies, and their methodologies.

What blogging does for students

Helps them find a voice

Another benefit to educational blogging (and wiki-writing) is the opportunity for the student to find a personal "voice" and to develop individual interests. Much like journal-writing, blogging gives wings to ideas that otherwise may can stay trapped in the mind. Many individuals find that blog-writing changes their lives in a significant way by allowing them to express their ideas in a medium that appears to have life and longevity--and that might find a kindred audience.

Creates enthusiasm for writing and communications

It is not expected that all students will take to blogging (just as not all students enjoy writing), but it is believed that blogging has a unique ability to create enthusiasm for writing and the communication of ideas.

Engages students in conversation and learning

Educational Blogging is more than just being about writing, just like writing is more than just writing business correspondence or a lab report for Chemistry class.Unlike traditional forms of publication that are one-way, when the work is done at the end of the publication process, students can be engaged in ongoing conversations about their ideas and thoughts. This can be threatening for some administrators afraid of endangering children, yet, it brings a reality to the classroom that was not previously possible.

Provides an opportunity to teach about responsible journalism

Because students who are posting blogs reach an audience with their posts, whereas a personal diary can be kept private, students have the opportunity in blogging to learn about the power of the published word. Whereas they might be tempted to criticise or make fun of someone in private conversation or in a diary, they can be taught about responsible journalism, and that the consequences of these kinds of remarks in the new world of the read/write web can be serious and long-lasting.

Empowers students

Student blogging is incredibly empowering in the following ways:

1) Instead of writing as a mechanized approach to empowerment where we learn to write well enough for school and work, we learn to write for life-long learning purposes.

2) Writing and blogging and life are intertwined as difficult issues are exposed and dealt with in a transparent community of voices. Although this type of writing entails risk and trust, growth and teamwork naturally result.

3) Writing and blogging encourage students' initiative to write, to be engaged at more than just the head level. It involves writing from head and heart. Children often have not learned to do more than live from the heart, while adults have concentrated their efforts on more cerebral approaches. This means adults and children can bridge the gap that exists by writing together, creating a community of writers in their classrooms where there is no pseudo-community, only community where humans write.