Introduction to Blogs




Abstract:

We are into ‘Information age’ where the face of education has changed radically and innovatively. Today ‘Discontinuity’ and ‘Singularity’ are upon us but they don’t have the same effects as an ice age. May be ‘Digital age’ is a good thing. Today’s pupils are getting accustomed to think and learn digitally and through innovative ways. Analogue is a thing of the past. As a matter of fact, students’ engagement is conditional on an ‘innovative digital pedagogy’ just because they digest information differently. So we call today’s students ‘Digital natives’. Today’s teachers, so called “Digital immigrants” must keep pace with the emerging digital technologies just to stay compatible.
Technology has added a new type of literacy to consider. Sometimes referred to as digital fluency, this type of literacy refers to the ways people become comfortable using technology as they would any other natural language (Huffaker, 2004). As a matter of fact ‘Digital fluency’ has now become an integral part of our daily lives ranging from the way we interact in society to our very workplaces.

In the last five years, web 2.0 (Read/Write Web) tools emerged very strongly. With Web 2.0, we don’t deal with the stagnant pages of information; instead we interact with them to create something of our own. Web 2.0, gave birth to “Pedagogy 2.0” in which learners have achieved far-reaching abilities and be creative.
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What is a Blog:
There are quite a few Web 2.0 tools available with their unique functions and each one of them works the best in the given context. For the purpose of this assessment, I decided to discover “Blogs”. The term originated from two words: Web and Log.
In recent years Blogs became very popular. Blogs are like personal journals or diaries and provide an online venue where online communities are built to share knowledge. They present an opportunity to discuss news, issues, knowledge sharing and everything else. Blogs are the easiest way to upload some information on the Internet and present an opportunity for others to build on it. It’s underdetermined” design, where a system is engaging, yet intuitive and easy to learn (Cassell, 2002), makes it easy to introduce in a classroom environment to share knowledge and communicate effectively. Its existence in clouds makes it accessible to communities beyond the borders, therefore wider and remote communities can equally contribute their knowledge to it.

Blogs can be multidisciplinary (Huffaker, 2004). Research shows that peer evaluation and knowledge sharing help students a great deal in their learning. With blogs students from cross-curriculum can be engaged in a discussion. For example ICT students can involve social science students for their new website. Or an English language class can engage ICT students to find different ways to share or preserve their knowledge on the Internet. By sharing knowledge between the two classes, students from English language class will focus more on their writing without having to worry about the technical aspect of their project.
However like any other online collaborative tool, Blogs have their advantages and disadvantages.

In a nutshell, Blogs enable us to form a collaborative environment where teachers, students and wider community contribute their knowledge. Many scholars expect the blogosphere to grow (Henning, 2003; Herring, Scheidt, Bonus, & Wright, 2004; Kumar, Novak, Raghavan, & 97 Association for the Advancement of Computing In Education Journal, 13(2) Tomkins, 2003). Even current predictions are at the size, from one million to almost five million (Greenspan, 2003; Henning, 2003) demonstrate the implementation of Blogs in our educational settings and in the lives of 21st century ‘lifelong learners’.

Implications of Blogs in New Zealand Secondary Classrooms:

Students can be asked to keep their lesson outcomes in a Blog and this has to be maintained every day. The purpose is to further cement students’ learning and keep a record of it in student’s own writing. Teacher’s ‘learning intentions’ will be made very clear and students will be aware of the following lessons.

Teacher can initiate a blog with some questions that could intrigue students to explore into it by making use of their ICT equipments such as a computer or a laptop, WiFi enabled iPod or a similar wireless device. The constant availability of the collaborative learning material in a simplest of form will assist students to work anytime anywhere.

A Blog page can be embedded with a questionnaire, a puzzle, a presentation, a Google map or a video file. This will enable students to share their ideas in a very creative way and the teachers can practice their pedagogies successfully. Some examples can be that students will be asked to collect their data and create an online graph for statistical interpretation.

Students can be asked to Blog their recent field/school trip experiences and what could have been done to make it even better. This will benefit the following trips of other classes.

Students can write and share their viewpoints on some ongoing sports event. Or they can comment on some newly explored website and share their approval or disapproval or the reliability of this website.

Students can use Blogs to raise funds in their community for a good cause.

In short, there are so many ideas where teachers can engage students by making use of this simple tool and practice ‘Pedagogy 2.0’.

The use of e-learning tool in my own practice:

In my senior unit plan “Kawhia – the coast with the most”, I made use of Blogs in the ongoing part of students’ project.

In any project, “fitness of purpose” or compliance with the stakeholders need is an ongoing and a crucial process. Students will be asked to maintain an individual Blog and clearly describe their practice to meet the 'fitness of purpose 'to achieve their technological outcome. Other students will be encouraged to have a read of each other’s blogs and add an improved idea. This process will improve students’ “collaborative learning”.
Mubashar Sheik - Assignment 02 (642) Unit Planning.doc

The below link is to the Interface magazine. The best New Zealand secondary school Blogs by teachers are available at the site below:

http://www.interfacemagazine.co.nz/teacherblogs/

These Blogs explain different techniques to make use of digital pedagogies in a classroom and also talk about different tools that can be used to enhance the effectiveness of a particular lesson.

New Zealand curriculum links:

Relevant Curriculum Pedagogy:

Blogs are collaborative and reflective learning of students that demonstrate their understanding of the topic. They create a supportive learning environment where students' learn from each other and Blogs provide a great deal of opportunities to learn from not only fellow students but also from the wider community. When writing Blogs students do consult and rely on their prior knowledge and skills.

Teaching as inquiry:

Since any teaching strategy works differently in different contexts for different students, effective pedagogy requires that teachers inquire into the impact of their teaching on their students (NZ Curriculum, 2007).

Blogs are an effective way to ascertain students' level of knowledge. They allow teachers to develop an evidence to improve students' understanding and through these evidences teachers can devise their strategies.

Values highlighted in my Unit Plan:

  • Excellence – aiming high, persevering
  • Innovation, enquiry and curiosity
  • Diversity – culture, language, heritage
  • Respect – for themselves and others
  • Equity – fairness and social justice
  • Community and participation for the common good

Key Competencies in my Unit Plan:
  • Relating to others – listen actively, recognise different points of view, negotiate, share ideas
  • Participating and contributing – balancing rights, roles and responsibilities, and responding appropriately as a group member
  • Thinking – using creative, critical, meta-cognitive and reflective processes, drawing on personal knowledge and intuitions
  • Using language, symbols, and texts – interpreting language and symbols, using ICT, recognising how choices of language and symbol affect people’s understanding.


Blogs in education:

Some uses of Blogs in Education:
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The video below talks about



Will Richardson talks about Blogs:



"The students will lead this revolution if we keep them engaged and give them hope that they can make use of these technologies that they love in their private lives and make use of them for learning. Teachers will come along with that because teachers’ role will change. In my 2020 vision, we’ll have teachers as facilitators and mentors, and the students will be directing, leading, and collaborating, even as early as elementary school. The relationship between students and teachers will be, on a whole, much different and more valuable" (Will Richardson).

How to setup a Blog: