Updated June 24, 2019: Crazy. I wrote this post 11 years ago. This was before I was using Dragon, speaking naturally into a microphone and getting the voice-to-text software to “type” for me.
Since that time, I’ve run a classroom blog every year – sometimes having my students blog more or less, depending on how many devices we could get for our class.
Back in 2011, I wrote this post about the merits of blogging in the classroom.
And, I still stand by these ideas – blogging can provide an authentic way to reach a wider audience through the internet.
But, after a decade of classroom websites and student blogs, I’ve come to the realization that the biggest barrier is access to technology in the classroom.
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to try multiple approaches:
- A class set of chromebooks (providing a 1:1 student to laptop ratio, so every student had their own device.)
- A pod of 5 chromebooks (but then, you’d borrow a pod from another teacher to try to bump your number up to at least half the class, so a 2:1 ratio)
- A BYOD bring your own device approach, where some students who were fortunate to have their own phone or tablet could work on their own device, while other students had to share the limited school resource.
In Ontario, the provincial government is trying to ban phones in the classroom, but the reality is that kind of approach is incredibly hard to enforce.
The reality is that phones can be
- an incredible learning tool by providing access to the internet…
- an incredible distraction by providing access to the internet…
So I wonder how a ban on student phones will impact the BYOD model where student technology has to supplement limited classroom tech resources?
Are student blogs still relevant?
I think so – I think blogs and websites have their place in media literacy.
But, I think we also need to explore social media as another media to engage with the outside world.
Arguably, many of the points below about blogging also apply to social media, which is a form of micro-blogging.
Here’s the original post from June 2011:
More and more teachers are blogging in the classroom. And, why not!
There are a lot of reasons to consider blogging in the classroom.
- It gives your students an authentic purpose to write. The idea that their stories will be published online for the world to see may motivate them to do their best.
- Students have a real goal in sight when using the writing process. Not everything needs to be revised, edited, and published, but because this work will be on public display, there’s greater incentive to polish the work.
- It allows your students to share their work with family members around the world. (And if the student work is translated into their first language, it allows dear old grandma who lives overseas and doesn’t speak English the opportunity to celebrate in your students’ success.)
- It provides a way to create and explore media texts as a natural extension of the writing process. Instead of just publishing your good copies on your school bulletin board, why not publish your good copies online. Your students may even get feedback and comments from people in cyberspace. (You can even set up your class blog so that it shows where in the world your comments are coming from.)
- It introduces your students to a new genre and form. Blog posts typically use short sentences and short paragraphs to pre-digest the content in this channel-changing world.
- It may inspire some of your student to blog themselves and encourage them to see themselves as writers.
There are, of course, security, privacy, and copyright issues to consider, but done correctly, blogging in the classroom can provide a modern way to engage your students.
Elona Hartjes says
Great points. I’ve found that my grade 11/12 students like our classroom blog because it’s fun. They tell me that they wish more teachers would have a class blog for them to do their work on.
Your site does not correctly work in safari browser
Mr Kuroneko says
Hi Opistedet, Thanks for letting us know. We don’t use Safari so we’ve never known there was a problem.
We did check our stats and it turns out 10% of our visitors use Safari, so we’ll definetely check out the theme and see if there’s anything we can fix… after report cards are done.
Thanks for the post. A good piece of information for the students. Thanks again.
Earn By Writing
I agree with all of these reasons. Student surely must be encouraged to blog, because we live in informational society, and skills like blogging become basic requirement. Plus, it makes you practice writing more, and thus eases writing block the more you practice.
Megan F says
I never realized how blogging can really help my students write in a different way. This will show them a different way to express their writing rather than paper-pencil.
Mr Kuroneko says
I find some of our students like blogging and doing their work online and some of our students prefer to use pencil and paper when keeping a writing journal. (It’s more like a diary that way.) Having said that, a lot of our students have really engaged in our blogging projects.
I myself am a blogger on internet marketing related topics and I fell into it after leaving university. I absolutely love it now, and would have loved if we had of used it when we were being thought. Not only does it allow you to express yourself (which is very soothing) but with it comes a whole host of computer and internet related knowledge that can help with your future career.
Currently I have this great idea of setting up an educational blog which is self-hosted. I was hoping my students would really like to blog but currently only a few of them are interested. Any suggestions on how I could possibly improve my site to make it more interactive with the users? This is my site – School Tidbits.
Mr Kuroneko says
I find self-hosted wordpress the way to go. Complete freedom to install any plugin / theme, but then the issue is whether your server can handle multiple students logging in and posting at the same time. (We’ve moved up from shared web hosting to a virtual private server because we found cheaper shared hosting just lagged too much, but we’re also now paying more…)
School Tidbits looks pretty cool. Is it a self-hosted wordpress account, or are you using your own domain name with a service like WordPress.com or Edublogs.org? We use blogging as part of our course work and a few students continue to blog afterwards, but mostly our students blog because they have to (for marks.) In terms of making your site more interactive, we’re always asking ourselves the same question. We have our eye on the Q&A premium wordpress plugin (http://premium.wpmudev.org/project/qa-wordpress-questions-and-answers-plugin) because we’re hoping to get our students using our class website as a place to study and get help from each other. I just haven’t had a chance to install it on our educircles network yet.