Help Answer Student’s Questions on Blogging in Education

I'm BLOGGING this! - MOO Sticker DesignWe’ve been asked for a little help by a student who is researching the history of blogging and how it is being used in education.

She has asked some great questions that we know others would like answered as well.

So we’ve decided:

  1. We would love to hear YOUR answers to some of her questions
  2. We will write a follow up post that pulls together all your responses with the more specific questions we will need to answer

Can you help us?

Please share your thoughts on any or all of the following questions:  

  1. How long have you been blogging with your students?
  2. How has the educational experience for your students been transformed since you’ve been blogging with them?
  3. Do you believe that blogs have benefited the education system?
  4. Do you believe that blogs will become a common way of educating people in the future?
  5. Why has the way of teaching through technology grown dramatically?

Just leave a comment below with your thoughts or anything else you would like to say about blogging with your students!

Feel free to also answer with a blog post of your own (just leave a link in the comments) or send a tweet to @edublogs.

Thanks!

Image: I’m BLOGGING this! by salendron.

Sue Waters

Edublogs Support Manager @suewaters on Twitter

15 Responses

  1. wmchamberlain says:

    How long have you been blogging with your students? I have been blogging with students for a little over 5 years.

    How has the educational experience for your students been transformed since you’ve been blogging with them? Obviously it has not been transformational for everyone. I have had many students have transformational experiences though, for example when a comment left on a student’s post led to a skype call.

    Do you believe that blogs have benefited the education system? I think this is the wrong question. A better question would do blogs benefit students. The answer to that is for the most part, yes.

    Do you believe that blogs will become a common way of educating people in the future? No, I think that we will use other platforms to do more “real time” sharing. I do think that there will still be a place for asynchronous learning though.

    Why has the way of teaching through technology grown dramatically? Schools are finally getting the technology to use. Perhaps you should ask the question is teaching getting better because of the increase in technology.

  2. Denise Krebs says:

    1. How long have you been blogging with your students? I began in January 2010, so about 2.5 years.
    2. How has the educational experience for your students been transformed since you’ve been blogging with them? Expectations have been transformed. Students expect more of themselves, and I expect more of them too. They no longer create just for me, but they create for the world.
    3. Do you believe that blogs have benefited the education system? Yes, definitely!
    4. Do you believe that blogs will become a common way of educating people in the future? Many students and teachers are blogging on all different kinds of platforms, and the number grows every day. I remember just a few months ago, I opened blog accounts for my upcoming students, helping Edublogs reach one million. Now they are at 1,254,432 blogs and counting. However, having said that, I believe when a different way to do the same thing comes around, “blogging” may lose popularity. Of course, whether it’s done in blogging or the next new thing, what will never change is the literacy that happens in blogging. However it is done, in the future, people will continue to write, share, create, and publish for an authentic global audience.
    5. Why has the way of teaching through technology grown dramatically? There are several reasons why teaching through technology has grown. Some productivity tools help save time and make teaching easier. Technology also has the potential of making teaching better–a world of teachers, classmates and content are available through technology. We need some technology to access the wealth of human and knowledge resources. In addition, students are using technology on their own, so by using it in education, we have a say in how they learn and use the technology tools safely and effectively, leaving a positive lifelong digital footprint.

    Thanks for asking,
    Denise

  3. Ellen Graber (@Ellen_Graber) says:

    How long have you been blogging with your students?
    I have been blogging with adult students training to become English as a Foreign Language teachers for a little more than a year.

    How has the educational experience for your students been transformed since you’ve been blogging with them?
    First of all, I should say that since they are adult students, they are not quite as digitally knowledgeable as you might be, so working through blogs is quite a major challenge. Secondly, my students are native speakers of Spanish, so their studies are in the target language English and that compounds the difficulty. However, I have noticed that by raising the bar for them, some of them are increasing their competencies in producing in the foreign language and with a world audience reading their posts, they have taken more care with their writing in their posts and comments.

    Most teaching in my country, Mexico, happens in the classroom without access to online resources, so online formats are completely new to the teacher-trainees. Most times they feel uncomfortable with the online experience, but a few rise to the challenge.

    Do you believe that blogs have benefited the education system?
    Where I can see in the world experience, definitely yes. However, in Mexico, teaching through blogs has not happened in many places yet. I am working to change that.
    I will give you an example: of the more than 100 teachers I have trained in the past year through blogs, only three people continue to use their blogs, or at least keep up and comment on my blogs.
    Do you believe that blogs will become a common way of educating people in the future?
    I believe that blogs provide a very personal way of learning, and that is why they are popular in other countries. However, in Mexico, there is no real writing culture, so most people are not accustomed to writing at all. I believe that in the world, less personal means of interaction, online platforms, Webinars for example, will provide more ways of educating people than blogs.
    Why has the way of teaching through technology grown dramatically?
    Teaching through technology has not grown dramatically all around the world at the same pace, and in some places, technology has not reached at all. For example, here in Mexico, commercials are on the TV about Internet now being in the public schools. The reality is that the majority of teachers are not familiar with technology and many of them do not want to learn new ways. Mexico is also a poor country and technology is costly. The digital divide is increasingly growing and those who access technology have access to more learning while those who do not have access have no idea what we are talking about. So, teaching through technology has only grown in certain places around the world. Just look at the cluster map on this page to see the evidence.
    I hope this helps.
    Ellen in Mexico

  4. Michelle Baldwin says:

    Q. How long have you been blogging with your students?
    A. This is our school’s inaugural year. Each class is blogging both in a private, community blog space, as well as a public blog. We’ve used these all school year with our students (August through the present).

    Q. How has the educational experience for your students been transformed since you’ve been blogging with them?
    A. I believe my students are more reflective about their own learning because of their blogs. I love that they are able to look at their learning, think about the process, and then write about the experience. What a valuable opportunity! Additionally, the kids love feedback that goes beyond our classroom walls. When someone from another state or country responds, they get SO excited!

    Q. Do you believe that blogs have benefited the education system?
    A. I think that writing/communicating about learning and thinking has benefited my students. Blogs are a tool we use to facilitate that writing and communicating.

    Q. Do you believe that blogs will become a common way of educating people in the future?
    A. I don’t know. I hope that more people will be encouraged to write about their thoughts, passions, new ideas, etc., and I know that blogs are easy tools to use for those purposes.

    Q. Why has the way of teaching through technology grown dramatically?
    A. I fear that question is one that might be misunderstood. Technology tools can be used to help facilitate learning, but they can also be used as a poor substitute for authentic learning. In my classroom, if we have an opportunity to learn about plants by growing them, we will do that. Technology is a poor substitute for a real experience. If technology can create an opportunity that we might not have had without it, then I think it helps students cross borders and bridges more easily. Communicating with other people around the world through blogs or video conferencing definitely creates opportunities my students might not have had otherwise.

  5. Kevin Hodgson says:

    How long have you been blogging with your students?

    I’ve been blogging with my students for about five years now. We’ve been on different platforms (manila, wordpress, edublogs, etc.) and used it for different reasons at different times.

    How has the educational experience for your students been transformed since you’ve been blogging with them?

    I am not sure the blogging itself has transformed their learning experiences, but one thing it has done is opened up the possibilities of audience in new ways. So, when they are considering writing or publishing for an audience other than me, the teacher, that really impacts how they view what they doing and the intrinsic motivation they have. But, I am not convinced the blogging itself has transformed their writing (or it may be that I have not done enough to help move them into transformation with blogging.)

    Do you believe that blogs have benefited the education system?

    As I mentioned above, the act of expanding an audience to the world from beyond the walls of the classroom or the red pen of the teacher is the biggest benefit of blogs … and wikis, and social networking spaces, and other online sites. Also, the ability to hyperlink and connect writing to media has opened up some creative doors. It’s nice to see more teachers moving into their own blog spaces for reflection, and using that experience to bring technology into their classroom. Still, we need more teachers willing to take some risks and begin blogging themselves. THAT can be transformative.

    Do you believe that blogs will become a common way of educating people in the future?

    I don’t know. It’s a good question. One hand, it seems like blogs no longer push the boundaries of what we expect in learning spaces. On the other, plenty of teachers still need to dip their toes into technology, and blogging is one way to do that. I am not sure that the comment feature of blogs has been as robust and as natural as we would like it to be. Perhaps that is because a school-based blogging space is, by nature, a forced space for forced interaction, and not a natural online home for young writers (they find their own nooks and crannies, such as fan fiction sites).

    Why has the way of teaching through technology grown dramatically?

    Has it? I hope it has, and it does seem as if we have made good progress. I think teachers are realizing that their students are inhabiting spaces and using literacy that don’t have roots in our classroom, and we are working to make connections with our students, and make learning meaningful. That motivation — more than the actual technology itself – is what seems to be driving things forward.

  6. Kelly Davies says:

    How long have you been blogging with your students?
    Almost a year, I started half way through last year.

    How has the educational experience for your students been transformed since you’ve been blogging with them?
    The children love seeing their work on the internet and adore getting comments from people. It motivates them to write as it gives them an audience that is real. I think they find it hard to be motivated when they know the writing is just going in their books and will only be read by themselves, the teacher and their parents. The blog opens up a whole new world of people who can offer encouragement and feedback.

    Do you believe that blogs have benefited the education system?
    Yes, not only does it fire the children up it also provides a great way to share work and ideas with parents and wider family. My students love telling me how their family in other countries have been able to look at what they have been doing. It does take some dedication though as I think it is important to keep updating the blog to keep people interested in viewing it and it needs to be discussed in class so the children stay engaged in the idea as well.

    Do you believe that blogs will become a common way of educating people in the future?
    Definitly, the rise of social media and mobile internet allows people to engage just about any time they want. It is normal for people to communicate via email and the internet now and a blog is another extension of this.

    Why has the way of teaching through technology grown dramatically?
    Technology in schools is growing so the possibilities are growing for what can be taught using it. It’s what the children are interested in as well, so many of our students have these technologies at home so it is natural for them to want to be able to use them at school as well.

  7. Maryanne Burgos says:

    How long have you been blogging with your students?
    I have included blogging as an essential part of an online course that I teach to pre-service L2 teachers for about 5 years.

    How has the educational experience for your students been transformed since you’ve been blogging with them?
    The blogging experience has forced the students to do more reflection on their learning and has allowed them to showcase products they have produced with online tools.

    Do you believe that blogs have benefited the education system? (benefited the learners)
    Over 80% of my students have said in a feedback survey that blogging has been one of the most valuable parts of the course.

    Do you believe that blogs will become a common way of educating people in the future?
    Over 75% of my students say that they plan to incorporate blogging in their own future classrooms.

    Why has the way of teaching through technology grown dramatically?
    Technology or more specifically the Internet has allowed teachers to create learning tasks not previously possible.

  8. tilgunas1 says:

    1) I have been blogging with students since 2008.
    2) I believe it provides an authentic educational experience, where what they write is not only seen and commented on by their teacher, but by their peers and the “public.” For most students, it’s a bit of extra motivation knowing their peers will see their work.
    3) Hmmm, transforming the system…not sure since I’m the only teacher at my school that students blog with. I’d say it transforms the system classroom by classroom, but it is not a widespread practice.
    4) It is one tool, so I’m not sure if it will become the common factor. Blogs are already changing, transforming into Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. We use blogs as a more in-depth form of these tools, but I’m not sure how long lasting blogs will be. If a better tool comes along, I’ll use it!
    5) It has grown, but not to the extent I hoped. I’ve been teaching with technology since 1985, but I’d say in the majority of classrooms in my district, technology is rarely used. I use it because I think kids are motivated by it, plus they need exposure to succeed in high school and college (and Facebook alone is not enough exposure, in my opinion). There are not enough funds, and an emphasis on “the test,” so not many teachers incorporate technology. My district was strong in the ’90′s, but we have lost our technology edge. I am limping along with 20 decent computers and 10 that are 8 years old! (try using Flash websites on those computers). It has grown in areas that have funds, and it has become less of a focus in areas with little money compounded with low test scores (“We don’t have time!”) Makes me crazy, mainly because I see such POSITIVE effects on students and their motivation. They feel like education is RELEVANT. They are also learning important problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity skills. Without realizing it, they read more, they write more, they use higher thinking skills. I’m a big advocate!

  9. lilq says:

    for a minute

  10. Sue Waters says:

    Hi Everyone!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Ronnie and I’ve discussed it and decided we want to add your answers to a really detailed post on blogging to include more stats and history than we originally planned. Which means it is going to take a bit longer to pull together.

    So I’m going to add my answers to the student’s other questions here as I don’t want to hold up her research for school while we’re organising the information for our detailed follow up post.

    1) When was the site created?

    Before I explain when the site was first set up it is important to highlight that Edublogs consists of two quite separate services:
    a) Blogs hosted on Edublogs.org http://edublogs.org/ )
    b) Blogs hosted on Edublogs Campus sites ( http://edublogs.org/campus/ )

    Edublogs Campus sites are mainly set up for schools, school districts and Universities; all their blogs are hosted on their own domain such as myschool.com.

    As a general rule, Edublogs Campus sites are for educational institutions who are taking a whole of organisation approach to blogging while Edublogs.org blogs tend to be used by individual teachers with their classes.

    Edublogs.org was set up in 2005 and Edublogs Campus was set up in 2006.

    2) Why was the site created?

    Edublogs was created by James Farmer and here is an extract from an interview with James Farmer that explains why:

    “Basically I was setting up and hosting blogs for lots of different educators, as part of my interest in using blogs in education and separately from my work as a lecturer in education design at Deakin University (they not only wouldn’t help, I even got an official warning that I should not be encouraging their use!)

    Naturally I was using WordPress – and then this amazing product called WordPress MU (now Multisite) came onto the scene, I’d bought the domain edublogs.org a few months earlier, just as it seemed like a cool domain… so I put them together… and the rest, as they say, is history.”

    You can read the complete interview here – http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2011/05/05/interview-of-the-month-james-farmer-founder-of-edublogs/

    3) What is the purpose of edublogs?

    The purpose of Edublogs is to provide blogs for teachers and students. You can read more here – http://edublogs.org/why-edublogs/

    4) How many people currently use the blogging system?

    Edublogs is the largest provider of Educational blogs in the World. We host over 1.2 million blogs on Edublogs.org and over 150 Edublogs Campus sites.

    Each year we’re seeing a significant increase in the number of teachers, students and educational organisations blogging. We’re also seeing a dramatic increase in one-to-one programs (lap tops, tablets or ipads) in the past 12 months which to some extent is forcing the more reluctant teachers to engage more in the use of technology than they had previously.

    Thanks again every one who has shared their thought so far. We hope to organise the detailed follow up post soon!

  11. Anne Mirtschin says:

    It has taken some time for me to complete answering these questions. I chose to respond to the questions with a blog post which can be found at The Phenomenon that is Blogging. I am passionate about blogging and feel that it is one of the biggest factors in transforming learning for me and my classes.

  12. Swati says:

    Blogging should be taken very seriously. I agree with respected teachers above. I was also taught in my graduation on importance of blogging. Infact, many students later can use it not only for sharing things which are their hobby but for making money out of it too. I however feel that in addition to normal blogging techniques students should also be taught on search engine optimization for blogs. After all, if you are writing on web you may want others to read it too but you are unsure how can it come up on google, bing or ask. I will strongly request teachers to take some classes on it too. The blog where I am blogging a lot is on following link: http://www.tutehelp.com/blog/

    A simple but useful blog.

  13. nicholas says:

    I absolutely agree that technology is a poor substitute for a real experience! Have you heard of Khan Academy? What are your thoughts on it?

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