Students, classes and teachers at Hawkesdale P12 College have been blogging for the past four years, since Heather Blakey came to visit. We blog with varying degrees of success – none I consider to be failures. Blogging is the ultimate open-ended task, suited to all ages and abilities. As a digital portfolio it allows students to build up a chronological record of their writing and changing interests. It can be customized to suit individual students with a huge variety of templates, widgets, headers and colours available.
My daughter (aged 12) enjoys posting on her blog “to share with everyone” – although she doesn’t receive a lot of comments, she is careful with her writing because she knows she potentially has a global audience. She likes to choose widgets which express her personality and is constantly working to improve the appearance of her blog.
As a science and maths teacher, I have limited time to blog with my students in class. I do like them to produce digital products, such as slideshows, posters, quizzes and reports that can be added to their blogs. It was interesting that some students preferred not to add their slideshow of an eye dissection, because “people don’t want to look at blood on my blog”. Ideally, I think students should write at least weekly on their blogs and comment on their peers blogs. It would also be great if relatives, parents and teachers could comment regularly to encourage thoughtful blogging and reflective thinking.
Our school has started to focus more specifically on learning intentions, success criteria and making these explicit to students. I believe this is a powerful strategy for teachers and learners to improve learning outcomes. If we encourage students to state these learning intentions and reflect on their progress towards them on their blogs, students will be able to document their improvement over time. The development of this metacognitive process allows students to become more independent and improves their critical thinking – all valuable 21st century skills.
I think we can improve blogging at Hawkesdale by involving parents in the process. We are planning a parent information night when we will demonstrate the use of Facebook, blogs and other web2.0 tools. This is part of a proactive strategy to minimize cyber-bullying by assisting parents to monitor their children’s behavior online. We are also running a competition “What does my Digital Footprint say about me?” with prizes donated by local businesses. Students in three different age groups will submit artworks, writing, multimedia or songs demonstrating their understanding of appropriate online behaviour. This is one small way we can facilitate student thinking about how to behave online.
How does your school involve parents with technology learning?
What are some effective strategies to encourage students to behave appropriately online?
Why do you think inappropriate comments are more frequent on Facebook than on blogs?