A Teacher’s view of the benefits of blogging

There’s an excellent post over at Box of Tricks that doesn’t just go gooey-eyed at Web2.0 and openness but puts forward some sound educational benefits for blogging:

  1. Showcasing your pupils’ work – Th mere fact their work is going to be published, possibly to a worldwide audience, is a powerful motivating factor. It also allows your students to feel ownership of their work and show it off proudly to friends and family.
  2. Assessment for learning – The commenting functionality in blogs allows students to feedback on each other’s work and fosters self evaluation. Often this feedback students receive from their peers has a powerful influence on them and serves to reinforce that given by the teacher.
  3. Engaging and motivating students – Web 2.0 offers a vast range of exciting and interactive learning possibilities that are designed to be shared on the internet. Blogs can take advantage of this as the outcome of these Web 2.0 creative tasks can generally be easily embedded into posts.
  4. Showcasing students’ videos – Our students live in a world where videos are created and shared by ordinary people. They do it all the time with their digital cameras and mobile phones. We can channel some of this enthusiasm and creativity by asking our students to film their own videos, which we can then showcase in our blog.
  5. Promoting target language use – By recording oral classroom activities such as dialogues or role-plays: if students know they are going to be recorded and the recording put on the subject blog, they then try harder and are more motivated to speak in the target language. This also gives parents and relatives an opportunity to see what their children get up to in class, thus helping bridge the home-school divide.
  6. Sharing teacher resources – Why not share that PowerPoint or that .pdf document with your students or other teachers by making them accessible in your blog?
  7. Sharing students’ resources – If one or more of your students create their own resources, such as vocabulary lists, study guides, grammar explanations, etc, you can also share these with the other students via the blog.
  8. Hosting listening materials (including podcasts) – A blog is the perfect platform to deliver listening resources and podcasts, because the resources are hosted online and are therefore constantly and repeatedly available. You post it once but it can be listened to or downloaded an infinite number of times. If you are intrigued by or interested in creating your own podcast, then you ought to watch this video.
  9. Linking to external resources – A blog can be a one-stop-shop for all your students’ language learning needs by linking to those resources which you have previously deemed suitable.
  10. Media rich content – As hinted above, students lead a media-rich life – they share videos daily – A blog helps tap into this media-rich online lifestyle by directing them to those videos which you have sourced and you have decided are educationally sound, therefore promoting learning.
  11. Promoting independent study – By linking to external resources such as videos or interesting websites or online newspaper articles, you are helping to develop your students’ intellectual curiosity, which in turn fosters learning autonomy.

Facebook users do what exactly?

[via Rodney‘s tip off about Compete.com]


A comment on Rodney’s blog – from Michael – made me think:

“those of us interested in growing on-line communities the message seems to be that setting up special interest groups is going to be less effective than developing a useful application”

If there are 3 types of communities – one of them the type that grows from shared activities, one from shared space and one from shared interest – then maybe Facebook is doing 1 and 2 and blogs are doing 3? Oversimple probably.

Dealing with Internet Waste

If you assume that the internet, blogosphere et al are complex systems, what might their waste be? And how might we “recycle” it better?

One of the many things I’ve learnt from Steven Johnson’s Ghost Map, is that waste recycling is a hallmark of almost all complex systems.

System Recycling
  • Composting pits used in Knossos, Crete 4000 years ago.
  • Medieval Rome built with much of the ruins of the Imperial City
  • Manure spreading helped towns grow

    This feedback loop transformed the boggy expanses of the Low Countries, which had historically been incapable of supporting anything more complex than isolated bands of fishermen, into the some of the most productive soils in all of Europe

  • Modern day bottle, plastic, paper and other recycling methods.
Human Body Calcium is a waste product of all nucleated organisms. This is turned into e.g. bones, teeth
Coral Reefs Coral lives in symbiosis with an algae called zooxanthellae. This algae captures sunlight and turns CO2 into organic carbon. This process produces oxygen as a waste product, which the coral then uses in its own metabolic cycle. And that process produces nitrates, CO2, phosphates etc as waste products all of which are used by the algae.
Tropical Rainforests One organism captures some energy from the sun, harvests it, but in the process produces waste, which then serves as a source of energy for another organism in the chain

At a more micro level, without the bacterial process of decomposition, we’d have been overrun by dead things years ago.

All of which had me wondering about internet waste.

The obvious waste is the hardware to support online life. Oxfam and others all work hard to recycle the motherboards, cables and chips that help us connect. But there’s still a huge amount left, and lots of that goes to China and the third world. [See e.g. the BBC ‘s Disposable Planet, or Salon’s article]

Then there’s the paper.

But most interesting, I thought, is what we do with all the old articles, thoughts, posts etc. I know I personally rarely look back over all the guff I’ve written. But I don’t particularly feel any qualms about leaving it up there. The amount of memory it all takes up is so small in the scheme of things I don’t really have to bother. That said, as things stand a lot of it is, if I’m honest with myself, waste. It may or may not have been at the time, but now, a few years on, it probably is.

So how best to recycle it? The easy way is just to delete it all. Alternatively, on the rainforest model, rather than delete everything, I could delete everything that had no comments/links to it. (As such, it would be much the same as an email retention policy)

I’m probably a little nostalgic for that. Part of me thinks that a yearly revisit to old posts might in itself be useful. (It’s amazing how much you can forget). And part, as I’ve said before, thinks that doing a social network analysis of your blog to look for structural holes could be instructive.

Anyroad, probably barking up the wrong tree … and perhaps in a few years time I might delete this …

A 10 year old activist

At the school I’m working at, we’ve just started a blog. All in the best skunkworks taste, there’s only a few children working on it. It’s great to see them rolling up their sleeves and beginning to write some interesting stuff.

One post that’s caught my eye, partly for the response it’s had in the staffroom is this post. Zed is 10 years old. He’s seen something in his community – a run-down boat in the school playground – that he thinks needs fixing. Max and Josh agree. And they’re blogging their opinions, beginning to get it fixed off their own bat.

Do have a look and see what you think, and if you’ve got any ideas to help these activists save their boat, it’d be great if you could leave them a comment.

Mapping your blog mind revisited

A while ago I posted some thoughts about creating a mindmap of your blog. I’ve spent the last couple of evenings fiddling around with tags, a little easy php and Ucinet, some SNA software. I thought I’d post the rough and ready pics now, and do some more explaining when I’ve more time tomorrow.

A 3d visualisation of my blog tags

A 2d visualisation of my blog tags

Highlighting one tag (information overload)

If you want to have a play around with this sort of stuff, here’s what I did.
Continue reading Mapping your blog mind revisited

Deloitte, risk aversion and “Just say no” to blogs

Anu points to Deloitte’s decision to say no to blogs last month. Briefly:

– Ryf Quail, Deloitte’s director of digital marketing and communications, made the proposal to blog. He describes himself as “an extreme outlier”.
– Chief Marketing Officer David Redhill suggested that their

“holding pattern should be risk-averse and watching how it develops”

– Because, essentially, they need to be discreet about their clients.
– And monitoring the blogs would mean they were untimely.

None of my business what they do, but it’s kind of sad. Risk aversion and watching how things develop. It is possible to be risk-averse and active. To paraphrase, I wonder whether “small steps, loosely” joined was mooted as a policy?

International Blog Day 2005

Spurred on by Euan, Rebecca and the general idea of International Blog Day [which is basically about putting some birds less of a feather on each of our radars], here are some selected reads very different from the mine from around teh world.

  1. Badlani is trying to Change the World – One Plastic Bag at a Time [India]. Is that Adam Gilchrist on the main site?!)
  2. Maryam’s So I Want To Be An Astronaut [Kuwait]
  3. M’lilwana Osanku’s Descendants of Sancho is a curiously gripping read
  4. [Guyana]

  5. Alphecca is “an occasional blog by an independent, libertarian, gay gun nut from Vermont.” You’ve got to love the States sometimes.
  6. The Japanese “I have an ogre for a wife” blog also deserves special mention – I can’t make head or tail of it, but the title made me laugh.

Anjo, ontologies and weblogs

Anjo is cooking up a feast over at his blog 🙂 He’s looking at ways of deriving ontologies from weblogs, with some fascinating results so far.

Another add-on might be looking at how to kickstart ontologies from del.icio.us and similar social bookmark systems?

1. You can get mindmaps from delicious
2. You can use mindmaps as a means to kickstart ontologies (e.g. Mind2Onto)
3. So presumably, if you can isolate a targeted group in a social bookmarking system, then you can use the social stuff to kickstart the ontology?