Blogging Can Be Advantageous For Students As Well As Teachers
It’s many years since Blogs first appeared. I didn’t know much at all about blogging before but nevertheless took the opportunity to set up a blog. Little did I know there can be so many educational benefits from having a well run classroom blogging program. I’m going to unpack 10 benefits of blogging for teachers and students in this essay.
1) Owning Your Content
There are many places online where you can publish your thoughts and artefacts including a whole heap of social media platforms. The fact is though, this can be building on borrowed land. Social media algorithms change (e. g. Facebook), platforms close (e. g. Wikispaces), pricing structures change, and accounts are suspended. There can be a lot of uncertainty. The safest option is to have a blog to house all your work and then use other platforms in ancillary ways.
2) Your Online Hub
A blog can be a place where all the bits and pieces you create and explore in the online and offline world can be housed. This could include videos, podcasts, graphic designs, articles, links etc. Blogs can keep your virtual world well organised (and they’re searchable!). You can keep your blog going year after year. In that way, it’s a great way to keep track of your thoughts, your creations, and your learning. A blog can also be used as evidence of student learning over time, whether or not you set out to capture this.
3) Improvement in Literacy skills
It is to provide a real audience for student writing. Usually, the teacher is the only person who reads student writing, and the focus of this reading is usually on form, not content. Students will improve their reading and writing skills greatly through blogging. It’s important to note that an improvement in literacy skills doesn’t come automatically with a blogging program.
4) All Subject Areas
While blogging as an ideal avenue for teaching and learning literacy, blogs can also be used in any subject area: maths, history, physical education, art…the list goes on!In any other subject, you can showcase learning, post reflections, post question prompts, and embed all sorts of tools.
Blogging allows you to be creative. Of course, there is the element of creative writing and opportunity to explore different topics. But there’s also the aspect of problem solving and coming up with different solutions. Additionally, blogging lets you express yourself visually through custom themes, headers, photography, layouts, and designs. There’s an art to that…and it’s fun!
6) Home-School Connections
Many parents and families enjoying using a class (or student) blog as a virtual “window into the classroom”. Through commenting, families can be a part of what is happening in the classroom and have real time access to their child’s education. I also love the way that information published on a class blog can be used as conversation starters at home.
7) Social Skills and Confidence
While some people may be quick to say that blogging and social media can inhibit social skills, I see blogging as a terrific starting point. Blogging can allow certain individuals to practise their skills with communication, conversation, empathy and so on. These can then be transferred to the “offline world”. In the year 2018, it’s essential that individuals can communicate well both online and offline. Using blogging is to explicitly teach students how to be polite and considerate of others. This can be done in simple ways like ensuring you reply to people when they comment on your blog, asking questions to show interest in others, and asking permission before posting about someone else.
8) ICT Skills
Blogging assists students (and teachers) to become ICT literate. Through blogging, many skills are able to be discussed and practised, often incidentally. These can range from keyboard shortcuts, coding, Creative Commons, research skills, using multimedia, troubleshooting and a lot more. Some of these skills are more specific to blogging (eg. using plugins, tags/categories etc), while others are more general ICT skills (eg. using images, managing passwords etc). This learning is all for an authentic purpose rather than through skill and drill exercises.
Constantly consuming information isn’t an ideal way to learn and grow. We need space to be able to process information and reflect. Blogging can be a great way to incorporate regular reflection into the classroom program. Some teachers like to allow this to happen naturally, while others scaffold the reflective process with prompts. Perhaps striving to make your prompts redundant at some stage is a good aim.
10) Classroom Community
Creating a blog requires teamwork and collaboration. Students and teachers learn and share together.
A real sense of classroom community can be developed through blogging and establishing a class identity. This doesn’t mean blogging is better than other digital tools, and applications. It’s just that almost everything can be integrated into blogging. It’s also important to remember that a blog is simply a tool. It’s the application that counts.