They think, therefore they’ll blog

I’ve been reading a lot of material on paperless classrooms and engaging students in meaningful and reflective work through ICT. Most of what I read happens to be on blogs which is starting to make me realise how powerful blogging can be. Surely I can harness that power and turn it into engaging pedagogy.

Therefore, I have decided to trial a [almost] ‘digital classroom’ with my year 7 class next term.

I am currently in the planning stages:

Step One – Set up a class blog (7pdhpe02.blogspot.com)

After a fair bit of research on the value of blogging and how to use blogging in the classroom I get the inherent feeling that this is a good idea. There are a lot of scaremongerers around me who talk of the ‘darkside’ of publishing anything on the internet but from what I read and my own beliefs I can see nothing but positivity for this sort of activity. I know that certain precautions should and will be taken –  but the whole venture will be an exercise in 21st Century citizenship. The benefits around the learning of copyright issues, privacy and safe online presence will surely be worth the experiment…ands that’s before we add in the syllabus content. Being able to publish to a potentially global audience and receive real-time feedback for their efforts seems to me to be a highly motivating tool as well.

So I had a search for the most user-friendly blog space I could that would be intuitive enough for year 7’s to find their way around and I settled on Blogger.com. I have started the page myself but intend to hand the reigns over to the class fairly quickly.

My only quandary now is whether to keep to just an overall class blog or to let the pupils free with individual blogs? – I think I will let the pupils decide.

Step 2 – Find an audience

Being connected and being read is, I guess, not the only point of a blog – it also has its obvious merits as a reflective tool and an online eportfolio. However, I know only too well how satisfying it can be to view your blog stats and see that people have visited, read and even commented. So I am in the process of setting up a twitter account ( @7pdhpe02 ) and have entered the  @creativeedu classblog challenge .

Step 3 – Engage the pupils

So far I haven’t told the pupils of my cunning plan but hopefully by putting steps 1 and 2 in place before next term I will be able to open the blog and show them the twitter account and from there we will discuss all the ways in which we can use these tools. This is the ‘unknown’ for me – hopefully they will roll with it and think of far more creative ways to use these resources than I could ever hope to do. But then that is the gamble isn’t it?

And I suppose rather fittingly our next PDH topic is Risky Business (exploring risk taking). By the end of the unit (irrespective of this digital experiment) they would have hopefully learnt that some risks are worth it – hopefully this will be the perfect case in point.

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