The Strength of Weak Ties

Everyone participates. Everyone contributes. Leveraging the power of digital networks to connect people, resources and ideas to drive creativity and innovation forward...and actually accomplish something!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Impending Death of Blogging As We Know It

I've been surprised about recent comments made about the impending death of blogs due to their potential incorporation into Learning (or course) Management Systems such as Blackboard.


I'm a big supporter of Blackboard, and not ashamed to admit it. We've had it our high school district for about a year and a half. Before Blackboard, we had less than 100 teachers with a Web presence (We have 407 teachers). In a year, we have well over 250 steady users, with an additional group being added during a staff development session tomorrow night. Our teachers have used the discussion boards with great success, have used the tool to communicate with our school community in a much more effective way, and are constantly using the tool in new and creative ways (such as peer to peer evaluation of original MIDI music creations) to leverage learning in an online environment.

Having tools such as blogs and wikis incorporated into Blackboard, either available from the system itself or through a building block, gives us the advantage of protecting students within the password protected Blackboard system. I have to do this and refuse to apologise to anyone about this because it is the first question anyone asks when we start talking about publishing digitally. With blogs and wikis in Blackboard, we can use such tools to teach kids how to do it right. Surprisingly, informal polls of our students indicate that they simply do not know much about blogging-all the more reason to develop a program that helps them understand the importance of blogging, RSS, and all the other tools available to them to access information and ideas.

Once students get a feel and understanding for what blogs are and the capability they deliver, who is to stop them from going to Blogger to get their own blog? For us, having this capability within Blackboard would help our students understand the tool; my prediction would be that it could only ultimately increase the number of our students blogging on their own.


  • At 2:18 PM , Blogger Teach42 said...

    I got the feeling that James was being ultra sarcastic in that post. I agree with what you're saying though. Keeping students in a password protected dome is all well and good, but it does prevent any sort of long term connection with what they're doing. It really doesn't feel much different than writing a journal for your teacher that you might share with a few classmates. How many students continue journaling once the class is done?

  • At 9:24 PM , Blogger David said...

    Well, I guess that's why we still teach composition and that's why we now have sustained silent reading in our two schools. You have to teach them sometime. Giving kids time to read in class, coupled with a renewed interest in promoting reading, has resulted in over a 200% increase in the number of books checked out in our two libraries. So here's an example of something that they will do beyond class, when careful and thoughtful classroom instruction sets the stage. And, its up to us as teachers to make learning as authentic as possible so that students will see the possibilities beyond class. Maybe students wouldn't continue with a journal because maybe there was no purpose in the first place for the journal. It is up to use to help students see the "long term connection" as that is what life-long learning is about...

  • At 12:25 AM , Blogger Kevin said...

    Mr. Jakes, if I may, I half-way agree with you. Members of my site have shown an incredible interest in blogging, whether it be the blog service on my site or a "Xanga" (on the fast track to becoming a synonym for blog--I despise that) and once I get around to posting some good resources for first-time RSS/syndication users, I think that they would jump right into that pool as well.

    The thing is, I honestly don't see the purpose of maintaining multiple blogs. My example being: your teacher mandates that you use Blackboard to blog about your progress on your semester project, but then you turn around and say the exact same thing, albeit perhaps with a more complaining tone, in your personal blog. That seems like overkill to me, but those I've discussed this with have taken opposing sides, saying that you may want to have alternative online identities, which goes back to my example of complaining about your project to the readers of your personal blog. Granted however, my fears would be set aside if the context were more of a Wiki-style collaboration, with all the students adding their own reactions to others' progress. Some students need this kind of check-up, those that lack organization, and some don't, but that's a whole 'nother can of worms.

  • At 10:38 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    If you are creating audio or video for your professional web site then you should try this podcaster. This tool will let you edit and delete your recordings.


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