I attended a great webinar this afternoon with Sue Waters, an inspiring educator from Perth, the second most isolated capital city in the world (Honolulu has the honour of being the most isolated). The session was part of a weekend long worldwide e-conference on education and web 2.0 called The Reform Symposium.
Sue reminded me that blogging is an important web 2.0 skill, that it is one of the best ways to foster both traditional language skills and digital literacy in students, and the possibilities for using blogging in education are almost limitless. She also reminded me that in blogging as in just about everything else, it is incumbent upon teachers to model good practice for their students.
A class blog, writted initially by the teacher, to which the students subscribe and are encouraged to comment is a good way to start. Once students have shown some proficiency in the medium, and have spent some time learning about e-safety, then they can be invited to be guest bloggers, and eventually the whole class can join in the fun.
In many Australian schools we have the concept of a ‘pen license’. Students begin their writing careers workiong with pencils, but when they have reached a level of proficiency and mechanical skill they are given license to start working with a pen. Sue suggested that a similar concept could be used to recognise when students have reached the required benchmarks to be ‘licensed’ to contribute to the class blog.
Here in South Australia we have fairly strict rules about students publishing online. Whilst no doubt written by people who meant well, these rules seem to me to be designed to stifle student creativity and put obstacles in the way of students publishing their work, whereas I would much rather do the opposite. Whilst I am working in a Government school I will have to work within these rules, and I suspect that will be a prject for next year. In the meantime I will try to be more diligent in updating my own blog, and also in reading and commenting on other people’s.