Although I have never come across it in my prior education, I have read a number of articles online which have teachers assigning their students to write online blogs. There are some who have their students start blogging as soon as grade 2. Most assignments would, of course, have the same function as traditional paper and pencil assignments: practice at converting one's thoughts, whether factual or imaginary, into written word. My primary reaction was that there are certainly better ways to save paper, but it does appear to have some great benefits:
· Since blogs remain online and have continued chronological entries, a teacher would be better able to assess a student's progression throughout a school year and chart scaffold learning.
· Prompt constructive feedback from teachers, peers, and possibly an even greater audience would prove beneficial for self-regulated progression.
· Blogs are very user friendly and as accessible as the nearest computer.
· Students who may otherwise not feel comfortable sharing their ideas in class, have an alternative form of expression to do so in the blogging world, and still receive feedback.
Sounds great doesn't it? Personally speaking, I still have some holdups when
it comes to young students blogging on the world wide web. Yes, teachers take
huge precautions, strictly educating the students on the importance of personal
security (never revealing one's name, address, etc.), personal privacy and that
of others, proper online behaviour, and so on. Yes, they get signed parental
permission. Yes, their school blogs are constantly monitored. BUT, in my opinion
it is still relatively risky to have young students constantly involved in
online blogging. Unfortunately, there are online predators out there and upon
numerous friendly comments from cyberspace, children may begin to feel a
connection. Being naturally trusting and curious, young students could slip up
and give out traceable information, despite being taught to be cautious, which
could prove dangerous. Cyber bullying is also a very real issue, which could
begin with seemingly innocent comments and escalate. Despite all the precautions teachers and parents might take, bad things do happen. Beyond the above mentioned risk factors, how challenging wouldn’t it be to stay on top of
supervising 25 students with full internet access, and reviewing all online work
and commentary? There are constant distractions available online, which could
also lead to tremendous amounts of school time wasted, and possibly even student exposure to very inappropriate sites. I’m not saying I wouldn’t consider using student blogging at all, but that the personal risks to students and the threat to wise time management may not be worth it.