Sunday, June 7, 2009

“the use of blogs to learn not just to teach”

I came across this and thought that I would post it because it seemed to be exploring a lot of the questions that I am also wanting to explore through my inquiry project. I am hoping that it will help me in my research focus......

Will Richardson’s post Teacher Bloggers Not Blogging (Says Me) looks at the David Warlick article in EDTECH titled Blog Rules.

Will says:

“Blogs are powerful communication tools. Blogs are powerful publishing tools. But blogging (the verb) is still much more than that to me. Blogging, as in reading and thinking and reflecting and then writing, is connecting and learning, neither of which are discussed in the article. (And maybe they weren’t meant to be, I know) I’m not knocking what Tim or his teachers are doing, I think it’s great. But I’m just asking the question: how are his teachers modeling the use of blogs to learn not just to teach?”

I have been looking beyond just blogs and considering the use of technology ‘to learn not just to teach’ quite a bit recently. Is it a natural progression to use technology to teach first then to learn, as we integrate new technology? Or is this just a lack of training and professional development? I’ve heard more than a few people call the new Smart Boards nothing more than glorified blackboards recently, (I have yet to actually even see one of these, much less know how teachers/students are using them, so I am really just making note of what others have told me). The fact is that technology such as this needs the user to be trained. How can we implement new things in new ways if we lack the knowledge or training to do so? Also, I think teachers must model what they expect, or at least find appropriate models for students to follow. A blog that replaces a daily diary may be useful, but does it expose a student to the potential a blog has as a reflective, synthesizing, learning space?

On the topic of blogs, I have been thinking about what this blog means to me. I write it as if I have an audience, but I write it for me, not the audience. It is sort of a cathartic expression of my thoughts on education; A place to synthesize ideas and reflect on new areas of exploration. I am surprised just how often I look back at my entries, reread them and follow the links. It has also been an experimental playground where I have learned a bit about html, and figured out how to add tools, such as the meebo messenger, the ClustrMap, as well as the flikr and bubbleshare photo windows. This blog isn’t about my practice as an educator but it certainly affects my practice. It is a learning tool.

I am developing some ideas about using wikis and blogs in my Science class next month. As I develop the plan, I need to ask myself:

‘Am I adding technology to my teaching or providing students with new learning and new ways to learn?’

‘Am I creating an environment where students will express, synthesize, and reflect on their (and each other’s) learning, or am I creating a new way to report out?’ (A glorified poster board).

‘Am I encouraging students to be lifelong learners?’

What else should I be asking myself?

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