As educators become more interested in integrating technology into their classrooms, more and more teachers are becoming familiar with the benefits of having class blogs. Blogs allow students and teachers to connect from anywhere at anytime. They allow for the incorporation of different types of media into assignments and allow students and teachers to share videos, images, and audio recordings. Other benefits of blogging may be less obvious. For example, some educators have suggested that publishing students’ work online encourages them to take pride in their work and do their best. Before classroom blogs became popular, the only audience for a student’s regular written assignments was the teacher. But blogging forces students to learn to present and articulate their ideas for a larger audience and how to represent themselves online. For quieter students, blogs provide an opportunity to be heard. At lower grade levels, blogging may have additional benefits such as helping students learn essential computer skills that they will need later in life such as how to use hyperlinks, or the importance of design and formatting. Class blogs also have the potential to create a greater sense of community in schools as classmates learn to collaborate with each other and share ideas.
Throughout my own academic career, class blogs have made large contribution to my learning.When finals time rolled around and I had forgotten half of what I’d learn that semester, blog posts were an extremely effective way to review material from earlier in the semester. Most importantly though, blogs provided a way for my classmates and I to exchange ideas. By providing a space for us to share our thoughts, comment, and respond to one another, ordinary writing assignments often evolved into meaningful class discussions where we were able to analyze assigned readings, discussions topics and course material in greater depth.
So which platforms are best for educational blogging? A number of educators are using standard blogging services like WordPress, Blogger or even Tumblr. But there are also a number of blogging services being developed specifically to fit needs of students and educators. For example, EduBlogs allows teachers to customize a blogging platform for their class. For lower grade levels, Kidblog, a platform developed by WordPress, offers a more simple, safe and secure environment for classroom blogging and allows teachers to maintain complete control over students’ blogging activities. The UK company Opeus has also developed a blogging platform called ClassBlogger designed specifically for students and teachers. The successful educational software development company Blackboard has also integrated tools for blogging into their products.
The academic blog can be a powerful technology tool for managing assignments, showcasing student work, and helping students and teachers connect and communicate beyond the classroom. However the real benefit of blogging exists in the culture it creates. Blogging contributes to a collaborative culture where ideas can be discussed and exchanged more freely. Through this free exchange of ideas we can continue to make true progress in education and technology.