wasting bandwidth since 1999

Should All Teachers Be Using Blogs?

I’ve been thinking about that question lately. Quiet school breaks are good for stuff like that.

In theory, the answer is yes. The process of blogging has great potential for both professional development and as a tool to improve student reading, writing and thinking.

The reality of the matter is that no one should be blogging (or using it in the classroom) if they don’t understand the concept and that probably includes most teachers.

However, all the talk last year about teachers using blogs has something of a historical perspective, if you can classify the early part of this decade as “history”.

It wasn’t long ago that there was a big push for teachers to create web sites and to put their classes on line. Some of them did just that but most didn’t see a good reason to go to all that trouble.

But the people who run the overly large school district for which I work didn’t like the idea of teachers (or students) posting materials to the open web.

So, instead they gave us Blackboard. And not long after, the decree came down from on high that all teachers would post their class sites on Blackboard.

If you’re unfamiliar with Blackboard, this is a commercial (re: very expensive) instructional content management system used by many colleges (and our online high school) to put their courses online.

It is not a tool for web publishing. The interface is clunky, the management tools difficult to use, and the discussion board is a mess. On top of all that, classes are closed to only those who are “enrolled”.

Definitely not the same as a site on the world wide web.

After more than two years, about one-third of our teachers have done some very creative things with their sites. Most, however, either ignore the directive or post something and leave it for the school year.

But beyond the technical problems of Blackboard, there is still the issue of why. Most teachers still don’t understand why they should be spending their valuable time and effort to create a class web site.

As the chatter about educational blogging grows, I suspect most also see this concept in the same way. They rightly want to know what’s the advantage to them and their students.

I suppose that’s the challenge those of us who believe blogging can be a great instructional tool face going into the new year. It should be an interesting one.

blogging, education, blackboard

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2 Comments

  1. I’m really intrigued by the question “Should all teachers be using blogs?” Though I might be a minority on this, I don’t think that its necessary for all teachers to use blogs. Different teachers have different styles and writing is not for everybody. Some teachers might benefit more by setting up podcasts or wikis. But all teachers should definitely learn to use the tools of Web 2.0 effectively. (Let me add, that I also don’t think that all teachers have to use pens/pencils or the blackboard in their classrooms.) Some teachers are very effective in engagin their students in non-traditional learning such as dramatic presentations.

    Just some thoughts in response to a well written entry.

    Andy Pass
    http://www.Pass-Ed.com/blogger.html

  2. I don’t think all teachers should use blogs, just as I don’t think we should all use powerpoint. But it is a great tool. I have used a blog as a resource for classes (to post assignments, links, tips for success, etc) which really doesn’t take that much time. I have also used a class blog to continue the conversation outside the classroom and to create a learning community. This requires more of my time to post and read the students’ comments but is very worthwhile.

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