So why SHOULD class/student blogs be open?

September 2nd, 2011 Categories: Integration, Procrastination

I was hired in my current position to steer our Elementary School vision of technology usage to be more in line with current trends.
The first thing I wanted to introduce to the teachers was the implementation of classroom blogs. With most grades this turned out be more fruitful to be a grade level blog. It’s a step in the right direction and one I’m happy with. At the minute most grades are waiting for permission slips to be returned but our Grade 3 team (headed by @Shaza33) have a 100% return on permission slips and the blog is going amazingly well in our first few weeks.

http://g3iss.weebly.com

We have parents commenting, videos of various activities and guest student bloggers all combining to extend our Grade 3 classrooms beyond the concrete walls. It’s a great start and long may it last. I’m waiting patiently on the other grades to follow suit…soon! Especially the lower grades where it can a fantastic insight for the parents to see what goes in their child’s classroom.

A debate that arose within our school was whether the blogs should be password protected (obviously the Grade 3 parents didn’t think so!) so I spoke at our last faculty meeting to address this. The teachers who I was working with were all supportive of the open blogs. I mean, what’s the point of speaking to a limited audience in a small room behind a locked door? You get to the stage where you (the student or a teacher) will go “Why bother, nobody else can hear me?”
And that’s when blogs die and enthusiasm wavers and engagement subsides.

With a password standing tall and strong in front of our students’ work and evidence of their learning no other classes or teachers could find us and share with us their learning or questions. Without a password the audience can easily subscribe to an RSS feed to keep up to date with posts, this is not possible with a password as the feed reader can’t get through (I speak from experience trying to keep on top of 70 student password protected blogs last year).

Passwords are just another obstacle in the way to access and to receive information, feedback and…friends. Global friends. With different backgrounds and beliefs. Different than ours.

Tear down those walls…..

'Vicious' photo (c) 2009, lyn_lyn0216 - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
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2 Responses to “So why SHOULD class/student blogs be open?”

  1. September 2nd, 2011 at 08:16
    1

    Hi Colin! I generally agree with what you’ve said here. However, I do think that the walls can be useful when kids are just learning in a new environment. Students need spaces to play, take risks, and make mistakes (a sandbox-type space). While some are okay with this being public and open to the world, others prefer to make those mistakes in private and that’s something I would support — until they’re comfortable in the space, that is. I’ve seen some really frightening things happen in the domains of cyber bullying and so forth when students (and their work) are suddenly released to the wider world without having been given the opportunity to experiment in a safe, trusting, and private digital space.

    I see many granular options as a school/class moves from the private to the public sphere — it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Above all, I hope to see students and their work be respected and fun to create. It sounds like that is your end goal too. 🙂

  2. colingally
    September 2nd, 2011 at 08:52
    2

    Hey Adrienne, yeah I used to think that enclosing the students in a private space was a great step forward (and it’s still a very valid way of introducing digital citizenship)

    But we tried it at my last school and the audience just weren’t there. The parents were not active, just another password to remember…the students even posted up entries with the first line reading “I know nobody is going to read this..”
    That was when I knew, in my opinion, the open blog was the vision I would always bring to a school.

    Horses for courses, eh?!

    Thanks for the comment.

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