BLOGS – how we would suggest blogs be used in the class of 2016…

We would suggest the following uses (although there are many more, and children should be given the opportunity to suggest their own ideas). The key innovation we are proposing is the widespread use of blogs – i.e. several times a week across all areas of learning, and their embedding into everyday practice:

  1. To set, log and keep track of work. This could lead to highly personalised learning, as children would be able to have their own blog post/page, in which they could access further work, reflect on their work or assess themselves or their peers. There is a drift in primary education to encourage more self-evaluation and peer assessment, as well as Assessment for Learning and Assessing Pupils’ Progress initiatives. Class blogs will provide an evolving, central forum that everyone has access to that could help more effectively track learning. This is all in addition to learning to use blogs and about the principles of them.
  2. Weblogg-ed and anne.teachesme are examples of how blogs are used in education, and could be adapted and used as a resource in the classroom of the future. They show what is possible in terms of information sharing and the links between professionals.
  3. Huette (2006) suggests introducing blogs as follows: start making posts on a subject of personal interests; then for simple announcements; afterwards graduate to reading other blogs, collaborating on joint blogs and posting entries for other class members to review and comment on.
  4. Blogs should not be seen as something the children ‘do in ICT’. They are a cross curricular tool that should be used across disciplines to enhance and augment learning and thinking skills. For example: a reflective log; a debate about a particular issue; to showcase pupils’ creative writing, the results of project work; to present information for the whole class to review and reflect on.
  5. Richardson (ibid) cites an English teacher who supports the ‘immersion’ strategies in established pedagogy and enshrined in the Primary National Strategy literacy framework. Blogs should not, however, in our view, be subject to the limited view that they are ‘just another text type’; they should be integrated into classroom practice.
  6. Results of surveys and investigations can also be shared widely and responses from a wide range of people can be encouraged and gathered in a central place that everyone can access.
  7. Beare (2001) argues for the urgent need for schools to develop in children an understanding of our global interconnectedness. This opens up another potential use: the ability to access and think about a range of information about people in other countries and to invite their perspective on your ideas and opinions. The comment aspect of blogs is here particularly useful and could lead to a kind of ‘dialogic’ exchange between children from different parts of the world.
  8. Children should not only create and use their own or the class blog, but use other blogs as a stimulus for discussion and debate – engaging with this debate by commenting on those blogs and getting answers from people in the real world.
  9. Children and groups should be encouraged to set up their own blogs and to interact with blogs in ways they choose to further their learning.
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6 Responses to BLOGS – how we would suggest blogs be used in the class of 2016…

  1. If using technologies and working out how they operate is left to children as Prensky suggests (2007), this may disadvantage those who have not grown up with these technologies at home. I have experience of a school where, very recently, virtually no children had computers at home. The situation is unlikely to change significantly by 2016. We must therefore be guarded when making predictions and suggestions for the future and bear in mind how universal and equal these innovations will be. Equality of opportunity should remain uppermost in innovators’ vocabulary.

  2. Deubel (2007) suggests limiting blog posts to refer to one or two key questions and to a certain time frame to enable them to be used for assessment and so that they can be linked to learning objectives. This raises the challenge of deciding exactly what blogs are for: is it to meet the existing curriculum and particular objectives, or should the focus be more on acquiring general skills and increasing capacity for learning?

  3. Encouraging children to develop a blog could lead to them wanting to engage with the vast amount of opinion and knowledge available through the internet. This has positive and negative potential. It can be bewildering and there is no inherent quality control on the internet (although teachers could use this to develop children’s critical thinking skills and encourage them to evaluate content and make people accountable); equally, the sheer range can open up new perspectives not previously imagined by the teacher or others.

    • I have found that research on blogging has tended to be carried out in secondary and higher education. However, the results are, in my view, applicable to primary education because they concentrate on the principles of collaboration (and social learning), reflection, motivation and meaningful purpose – all of which have been found to be instrumental to effective primary practice. However, it may be the case that blogs are more effective with older children because their increased life experiences and time to form personal opinions mean they have more to say.

  4. Budgetary constraints on schools in the current climate (likely to continue till at least 2016) may mean that money that might previously have been spent on a range of resources and software may not be forthcoming. Education is part of wider society and subject to and reflective of its values and realities. Universal and equal access to blogs may therefore be problematic.

  5. New initiatives such as those related to health and wellbeing (e.g. Healthy Schools initiative, National Healthy School Standard) may conflict with the promotion of more sedentary activities. Becker (2011) also argues that face-to-face interaction helps children develop as citizens aware of their potential and responsibilities. Discussion through talk, therefore – ideally through ‘dialogic’ exchanges – should be seen as central to blog activities. However, introducing technological innovations in part through pedagogical changes may affect the reliability of research into their effectiveness.

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