Thursday, July 19, 2007

What IS blogging? I mean . . . really?

As you may know, I have been blogging for a while. This is the third consecutive summer in which I was actually paid to blog, and this is my second summer of having it be my full-time employment. I think, in all this time of watching bloggers who are also teachers, I have come to a decision about blogging and education.

Would you like to know what that decision is?

Much of the time, in many cases and situations, it's just not worth it. A waste of time.

However, it CAN be done well. And it can get kids motivated to work harder and better than they would without it. But there are so many things to consider:

  • What if it takes your students SO long to type what they want to say that they end up frustrated and they give up? Do you have the time to devote to their being trained in keyboarding skills? Do they suddenly become aware of spelling and grammar errors they've been making all along in writing, yet are ill-equipped to deal with them?

  • What if you get a whole big ol' blogging project all planned out, and then the first day you take your kids to the lab, there is a power failure? Or, worse yet, everything is working fine, but your top three choices of blog clients are blocked in your school/district?

  • What if you end up taking more time teaching people how to blog than you can afford? What if they never truly learn the ins and outs and you have neither a product created nor a standard met? How's your principal gonna like that?

  • What if everything works fine, is not blocked, and your kids learn how to use their blogs quickly? What if they become pros and figure out features you never intended them to use, mainly because you did not know they existed? What if you get called in to see your principal because your students are staging an online revolt against you and/or the school and you never even knew about it?

  • What if the precious darlings you have blogging end up either filling their blogs with profanity (which you will get to find and address) or nothing at all because all the posts they attempt get blocked by the content filters?

  • What if you assign a blogging homework assignment, only to be hit with a plethora of excuses (some of them genuine) about why half the class can't blog anywhere but the school's computers?

There are plenty more "what-ifs," but I think you get the picture. A part of me is convinced that there are only ever really twelve to fifteen different conversations taking place on the Internet at any given time, and they just keep getting brought back up with different window dressing. Some of these include:

  • What I did at (school/work) today

  • What I did this weekend instead of my (homework/housework/chores)

  • Stuff and/or people I totally love

  • Stuff and/or people I totally despise

  • Who should win this round of American Idol and why

  • Why you believe (or don't believe) in something

  • Here's a link to something I found (interesting/funny/disturbing/a little too close to home)

  • What I want to do when I (grow up/grow old/graduate/retire/get married/get divorced/have kids/empty my nest)

  • What I want to do before I (grow up/grow old/graduate/retire/get married/get divorced/have kids/empty my nest/die)

  • A list of my favorite Your Mama Jokes (or similar fluff)

  • Political ranting and/or commentary on current events

  • Surveys and other Memes

Go ahead; prove me wrong. I want you to. Really.