Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Classroom Blogging and Wikiville

In a recent post Warrick Wynne concludes that classroom blogging makes sense: “Of course classroom blogging does make sense; in essence it's writing isn't it? Ongoing, reflective, linked to the world writing.” And I would have to agree with that.

So blogging in the classroom makes sense. But why is it worth pursuing? Isn’t it just a fad that will fade out like so many others? Shouldn’t we be wary of the hype around blogging? Our principal this week quotes Chas Savage in his article “Dump your iPods, mobiles: try living in the real world” by Chas Savage:
“In the dysfuture, individuals will be either fierce champions of their own cult logic or artisans in favour of their favourite chariot team/consumer bonbon. Yet a general political atmosphere of indifference will prevail. Common ground for conversation will be difficult to find, and dialogue will be impossible to hold.”
But I disagree with that. On the contrary blogging is inherently conversational and gives a voice to those who may otherwise have no voice. As James Matthew says:
“The arrival of blog technology allows access to those who are not necessarily ‘net literate:’ “[Blogs allow] average users with no technical ability to easily maintain a regularly updated web presence””
I guess what I am most impressed with is the thinking of my friend Scott:
“I would like to talk about how blogging orients writers rhetorically, i.e. that it is a unique (at least for most students) textual practice, which positions them in interesting (and problematic) ways. It does this for all of us of course. Furthermore, we might argue that blogging is a social and cultural practice, or a literacy and one that in may ways lends itself to critical literacy, community, and reflection.” I want to take this position because I guess I grow increasingly tired of those who talk about blogging some amazing and life changing technology. I don't doubt that it was had this kind of effect for many people - but I would argue that the technology is the least interesting part of the whole situation. It is the practices that something like blogging encourages (one might say 'the affordances' of blogging) that are lifechanging or affirming or rewarding or whatever superlative is being used. I think this thinking(!) also moves beyond the hype and begins to engage more critically with blogging as a practice.”
And from John Pearce: “For those interested in being involved in a really neat and very brand new wiki project then have a look in at Wikiville. This project set up by John Bidder in Bolton, England seeks to get students to reflect on and describe their local area in their own voices. With input and assistance from Will Richardson, the project has been up for a week now. So far there have been contributions from Tasmania and Western Australia as well as from my grade 3/4's in Geelong and another student in Ballarat. The challenge is for other classes or students to get the real Oz-voice up and running. Adding entries is quite simple and the project is a great way to introduce wikis to students.”