Could you come to the meeting on Thursday and tell us about blogs? Just an overview, a little about how they could be used in education, and something about the legal ramifications. Oh, and you’ll have about 15 minutes.
That was my charge this week. Take the half-day session on blogging (and other Web 2.0 tools) I’ve been doing this year and condense it down to the Headline News edition for a group of high school curriculum specialists in our overly-large school district. No problem.
Actually that last part about the "legal ramifications" told me all I needed to know about what I was stepping into. They had seen some of the scary stories in the news media and that, combined with the fact some teachers have been asking questions, was making people nervous.
It seems to be very common. Many of the administrators in our system (and I suspect in many others) are just now getting comfortable with the idea of students simply visiting and reading web pages. Now, along comes a whole boat load of technologies that allow any of them to easily put their own thoughts and ideas online for everyone to read/hear/see.
So, it wasn’t surprising that almost no one in the room had even read a blog post. Or that the only example of one brought up was a very inappropriate one by a student somewhere else. Or that only a few people had heard of Wikipedia, flickr or similar tools.
But I charged ahead, trying to put blogging in some context with wikis, flickr, tagging and all the rest. And talking about some of the ways these technologies can help students learn to better communicate. And trying to make it clear that a blog is not the same as a threaded discussion in our closed course management system.
In the end, the head of the group declared that the assembled group should discourage teachers from using blogs and I left them to the remainder of their agenda. I didn’t leave discouraged, however. I think I planted a few seeds and that’s all I could expect in the short time available anyway.
What I didn’t have time to tell them is that trying to slow down teacher and student use of read-write web technologies is going to be very frustrating for them. All of this is moving much faster than their status quo.