Engaging 21st Century Writers with Social Media

While the concept of student blogging isn’t new, some remain hesitant to integrate it into their classroom as they are skeptical of its academic merits. I understand. It’s your responsibility as educators to ensure any action you’re taking that will affect student learning is scholastic, engaging, and purposeful.

Here at Kidblog, we’ve witnessed classroom blogging become increasingly more utilized, relevant, and beneficial for teachers and students. However, we know not everyone is privileged to have the same insiders view. As humans, we put a lot of faith in research, science, and testimonials.  For this reason, I’ve gathered some evidence to help inform your decision to integrate blogging into your curriculum.

In this post, I will highlight the published work: Engaging 21st Century Writers with Social Media.  This selected passage explains a few key values of blogging, including an authentic audience,  digital portfolios, and learning reflection.

This is a pivotal reference source for the latest research on the integration of social media platforms into academic writing classes, focusing on how such technology encourages writing and enables students to grasp basic composition skills in classroom settings. Highlighting emerging theoretical foundations and pedagogical practices, this book is ideally designed for educators, upper-level students, researchers, and academic professionals.

Engaging 21st Century Writers with Social Media (Advances in Higher Education and Professional Development)
by Kendra N. Bryant (Author, Editor) (Ph.D., English Rhetoric & Composition, Master’s of Education, English Education)

…Why is audience important? In this world of digital media, students are on Facebook and Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and other sites writing, developing, and negotiating their ideas and identities in the world. Academic writing that remains cordoned off from the ways that students participate in the world does them a disservice; they may learn basic skills and how to write strong papers, and some students will be engaged and do that successfully, but this additional kind of “making” for a larger audience can also encourage students to become more confident, and maybe even come to enjoy writing…

… I saw the e-portfolio as a way to further the discussion of purpose and audience in more complex ways. Instead of turning in a final paper, on paper, to the instructor, the e-portfolio would allow students to publish their work online for a specific peer audience as well as a larger potential general audience. I began to encourage students to do reflective blog writing and make connections among texts and ideas, instead of writing generic summaries in response to reading assignments. I hoped this might encourage students to invest in personal writing that would more thoughtfully lead to the larger portfolio project.

The e-portfolio is appealing in the ways it offers the potential to bring together personal writing, reflection, creative expression and an understanding of rhetorical context with greater stakes. It can serve as a space for writing accumulated over the course of a semester like a traditional hard copy portfolio, but it also becomes hybrid, hypertextual, and multimodal because of its web form. Considerations of layout, design, organization, structure and other elements take on greater meaning and require more attention. Instead of simply collecting materials, an e-portfolio can also serve as a single or cohesive project, like a fully formed website for a comprehensive paper bound together with a common focus, purpose, and sense of audience. Designing a single project into an interactive portfolio can potentially allow for more time and thought- within the confines of the semester time frame- for creative and organizational choices. Further, integration of other media including graphics, video, audio, and other forms can turn the portfolio into a dynamic, multi-dimensional experience.

These are skills that go beyond the classroom… [Helen L. Chen (2009)] emphasizes the philosophy of lifelong learning which  “places the needs of the individual at the forefront” and “the importance of exploration and preparation for change and adaptability in both formal and informal learning environments” (p. 31). The “efolio” combined with “reflective thinking,” she explains, can be considered an example of “a learner-centered pedagogy focused on providing structured opportunities for students to create learning portfolios for the purpose of fostering coherence and making meaning” (p. 31). Students can learn by doing, but that learning is deepened and made more profound when they are required to reflect and make the connection on their own terms.

I encourage all educators to continue exploring the academic benefits that result from blogging in the classroom. Perhaps you are already interested in starting a classroom blog but haven’t found the right platform – yet.

Kidblog provides teacher flexibility and customization, which gives your students the opportunity to publish a blend of classroom and public posts for an authentic audience. Our platform is a safe space where student-teacher, as well as, national and global connections can blossom and thrive. Best yet, as students create, they will build student portfolios (automatically class-to-class, year-over-year). We’ve built our platform to be truly student-centric, and are excited to continue to serve educators globally in their mission to powerfully, effectively, and safely integrate technology into the classroom.

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About the Author
Grace is a Marketing Manager at Kidblog. She enjoys discovering new ways to ignite the world's passion for blogging, and hearing from teachers about all the ways students are benefiting from Kidblog in and outside the classroom! Grace loves teaching painting, photographing the beautiful state of MN, and snuggling her two cats Piper and Opal.

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