Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Is Blogging Important or Not?

Cliff Barnes (Class E) left this comment on Carlo Freda's post Blog Assignments: 7 February
I do not think blogging is that important honestly. It may be useful at times, but when you are teaching in a classroom why should the students have to get on your blog to learn. You should focus more on interaction with the students, not expect them to just read your blog.

In college, and in K-12, you do not just learn in a classroom. In college we expect students to spend 9 hours per week working on the class, including time in class. The University of South Alabama is experimenting with fewer hours in class, partly to save money but also to meet a demand from students for more flexible schedules and to make use of technologies that can open new opportunities for teaching and learning. As a result, "the interaction with students" in a classroom will be reduced. But even if that were not the case, there is often almost zero true interaction with students in a class. This is not always the case, but the videos you have watched including A Vision of Students Today demonstrate that the "sage on the stage" is still alive and well in American higher education.

I, however, believe that blogging is an extremely important tool for teaching and learning. Here are a few reasons:
1. Blogs provide a means for an audience for a student's work.
2. Blogs encourage writing. Even in a world where writing is disdained by students I can get students to write and pay attention to their writing. This is in part because they have an audience beyond me. They are, as Anthony Capp said, "leaving their intellectual trail."
3. Blogs provide a vehicle for "writing with multimedia." Students now listen and watch instead of reading and writing. My goal is to get them to contribute to the creation of new media products. Blogs provide an excellent method for distributing those kinds of media and for combing text with the new media.
4. In EDM310 we now do not focus on teaching some specific lesson in class. Instead we have labs where students can ask for assistance on any part of the course. When this occurs students do get direct interaction with the teacher. But the responsibility for learning is squarely on the shoulders of the learner. You learn by doing, not by listening.
5. I attempted to make my best case for blogs and commenting on blogs by telling of two important and exciting events that happened in EDM310 in the Fall 2009 semester because of blogs and commenting on blogs. I call this post Kaia and Room 10 - Why Blogs and Commenting on Blogs Are So Important. The essence of that argument is that the evidence I have is that blogs and commenting on blogs are the most powerful tools available to a teacher to bring people from all over the world together in a common conversation. I believe that common conversation among the peoples of the world is our highest calling. You may not agree. But that is where I stand.
6. Ultimately, however, you can make your own decisions as to what is important. Steven Anderson's post Why Do I Have to Learn This? concludes with this statement: "Why do we have to learn this? Not because we have to, but because we want to..." And if you do not want to learn what blogs, blogging and commenting on blogs can teach you, then that is your decision. A teacher can only provide an opportunity to learn. We cannot force anyone to learn. And we make choices about what we think students should learn. Many time students disagree with our choices and even challenge us to clearly state the reasons for our selections of what we think students should learn and do as Cliff has done here. And those challenges, when they come, are most appropriate. But I can ask, and I do, for Cliff to make his best case as to why he has concluded that he does not "think blogging is that important..."

Go for it Cliff. Make your case. We can have an interesting debate!


  1. Dr. Strange it is as you say; learning is in the hands of the learner. I find that comforting, but blogging has an impact and a purpose beyond the immediate learner. One need only ask "who is creating the content on the web" to see that as 21st century participants we have the opportunity to contribute to a great conversation in a way that we never have before. The read/write nature of the web is optimized for a democratic conversation and if we don't contribute and take a part in the creation of content, then we are giving our voice to others who ARE contributing. Not blogging now can have an impact on contribution permissions later.