“What are you up to at school nowadays?
“Not much …”
Ever had this ‘conversation’? Wouldn’t it be great to see and read about what happening at school? Well, in order to develop that option at CAC, we are slowly but surely venturing down the path of blogging.
Blogging is like writing an online journal, but even better. Bloggers can add value via embedded content like images and videos. Blogging engages students more than the handwriting process, and allows for feedback from the target audience. It is a recognised commercial and financial pursuit that has enabled thousands (maybe millions) of ordinary people become household names and respected writers. Blogging can be embedded into every learning area, and could be considered of more benefit, in educational terms, than writing in a notebook which spends 80 % of its time in a desk drawer or locker.
There are many ways to use blogging to engage and empower students to reflect, provide feedback, write and communicate. These include:
- Year level blog
- Class blog
- Teacher blog
- Group blog
- Student blog
- Character blogs – fact or fiction
- Camp blog
In terms of the Australian Curriculum’s ICT General Capabilities, the process of blogging covers all the categories of:
- Applying social and ethical protocols and practices (commenting, posting)
- Investigating with ICT (blogging contexts – researching, reports, etc)
- Creating with ICT (creating digital content)
- Communicating with ICT (text, images, videos)
- Managing and operating ICT (using the blogging platform)
At Coomera Anglican College, we are just starting our blogging journey. We are using a platform called Kidblog, which enables total teacher control of usernames, passwords, access, moderation of content and visibility. This is important, because safety is always at the forefront of our online pursuits.
For example, if a class has individual blogs, the blogs can only be viewed if the user has an account in that class and has a valid password. Likewise, teachers can control the commenting process by disabling the function, allowing comments via a valid account log in or allowing open access to commenting. If commenting is enabled, the teacher then moderates and accepts the comment before it is shown on the blog. Widgets and features are also limited to ensure that the actual process of blogging is the main focus.
Across the College, there are year levels, classes and individuals involved in the blogging process. In the Primary School, Year Two has just started and 2F in particular has been trialling the software and the process under the guidance of Mr Adam Farley. Mr Farley has really engaged his students in the process, but the most pleasing aspect has been the involvement and enthusiasm of the parents. The students are very excited to see their parents commenting on their work, reports and videos, and the communication with parents is one of the most important reasons to engage in this process. All of Year Two will very shortly become involved in the blogging process, so Mr Farley’s investigation and feedback will be invaluable to that year level and all other year levels in primary as they move towards their blogging solutions in Term Three.
Each year level will have different uses for their blog and different content in the posts. The younger grades will have less text and more imagery, whilst the older year levels will show more text. The goal is for student generated content with a focus on events occurring across the year level and examples of school work or even excursion photos. Years Five and Six are old enough to have individual blogs, which will serve as great documents of their school work, thoughts, feelings and reflections. Other examples of blogging at the College include:
- Year Seven individual blogs with IT and SOSE content
- Food and Cooking blogs in Food Technology
- Chinese blogs written in Chinese script
There will be some trepidation amongst parents about the blogging process and privacy issues. Parents will receive a letter with guidelines and a permission form so that they are fully aware of the blogging expectations and are able to opt out of elements of the process. Initially, any concerns can be directed to the class teacher. Alternately, if you have general or specific questions about blogging, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We have completed many hours of research in order to create safeguards and determine whether or not blogging will deliver worthwhile educational outcomes. All indications are that the process can be safe and will engage our students, and parents, in the writing, reflection and feedback process. There are many examples of blogs from around the world that show the students’ faces and have videos of students engaging in the learning process. If you are not convinced, please visit these sites to see some great example:
Lastly, I have included a ‘Blogging Rules’ poster that students can refer to during their blogging journey. You can also take a look at our teacher reference blog (http://kidblog.org/kidblogtastic/) which explains the benefits of blogging as well as tutorials showing the features of Kidblog.