Blogging, without question, is one of the most powerful ways to communicate in the 21st century. It is an amazing tool, used to empower our students. However, with this ability to widely share voices comes the threat of misuse. Our students need to be aware, fully understanding how and why to use the technology appropriately. The question then becomes, how can we safely and effectively put this incredible tool into the hands of our students? This is where Digital Citizenship comes into play. In a nutshell, Digital Citizenship is an outlook that promotes safe, healthy, and appropriate use of digital technology for kids and teens. It is self-monitored participation in an activity, that reflects conscious interdependence with all (visible and less visible) community members.
Blogs provide a space where teachers and children can work together to further develop writing or other skills with the advantage of having an authentic audience (their peers, parents, or classes across the globe). A blog also provides opportunities for online mentoring, with teachers offering feedback and constructive criticism to students on their blogs, and students practicing commenting and replying with the benefit of feedback from their peers. Students can also participate in supportive learning activities that require them to report back on research findings, ideas, or suggestions.
Blogging enables students to go beyond their classroom walls. On paper, students can demonstrate learning by writing, reading, coloring and drawing, but if they’re not limited to the pen and paper, they can record their voice talking, create music, create a video, or even develop an animation that they can then share with students in their classroom or other students around the world! There’s just so much more they can do to demonstrate their learning with blogging, and every student feels like they are contributing in a unique way. Blogging helps students build their digital literacy skills in and out of the classroom, and allows them to collaborate and connect with each other and with other students around the world. It allows them to create and control their own digital space allowing them to express themselves in some ways that they might not normally consider. Blogging encourages students to ask questions, research, and communicate their ideas about topics they are passionate about, in a monitored, safe environment.
Students can find and cultivate their voice when teachers encourage them to collaborate and make connections with one another in blogging, and cultivating the digital conversation through reading, commenting and replying. In my own classroom experiences, I have found that students are more likely to put forth effort and take ownership of what they are putting out there when they know they have an audience.
Blogging provides a space and a place where students can share and celebrate their voice and are able to take ownership over their learning. In the process, we as teachers are able to gain insight into who our students are on a personal level and build lifelong valuable relationships with our students.