Sunday, 5 October 2014

Why blog?

Hello everyone,

I have held off blogging about this week's topic as I am a newbie when it comes to blogging. It was cool to hear Sue's presentation and it seems like many in our class are already benefiting from blogging in their classrooms. I have always considered myself pretty innovative when it comes to technology, but this is one area where I feel out of my element. It is not that blogging is technically difficult, but that I struggle to find organic ways where I can incorporate blogging into my daily routine.

After giving it some thought, I realized that I already have been using "blogging" with my students. As I teach arts classes (music) I have been using journals in my classes for years. I use journals for students to reflect on an issue/ subject or two express themselves on a number of issues. As Sue said, reflection is a huge part of the learning process and I encourage it as much as possible.
I find that many students are reluctant to speak-up in class and journals give students a chance to do this. I have found often students who are the quietest have the most interesting things to say and they seem to be open to expressing themselves when they know I will be the only one reading it. Creating a class blog would be a natural extension of what I already do.

Would these shy students feel comfortable enough to express themselves freely in a blog? This is my concern as a blog is very public and once you have written something down, you also open yourself up public criticism. Would students be honest with themselves in a blog, or just post responses they think either the teacher or the class would want to hear? How authentic are people in a blog? I certainly am on guard when I post anything as I know my posts are public. What I like about journals is it gives the author a chance to be vulnerable as they know the audience. With blogging I personally feel a little guarded as I know my posts are public. Even admitting my reservations and concerns about blogging I hesitate to write as so many of my classmates seem to be prolific on blogging.

I do have some concerns about privacy and Sue mentioned this a bit in her presentation. The question was should student blogs be made public or private? While I see value in making them public, my first impulse is they should be private. At school we are very careful with children's privacy and protection from harm. I can't help but be a little hesitant as a teacher to encourage my students to post things publicly (although I know they already do this through social media). I agree that we need to educate as digital citizens and explain the various issues with authoring work that will be public. This is our world we live in and there is no denying that these skills are as important if not more important than many skills we teach in a school.

In conclusion, I am still sorting out my thoughts on blogging and how it will work in my classes. It helped me a great deal to hear Sue had similar struggles and to see how she is very effectively using blogging today.  


  1. Ryan, blogging is a very personal endeavour and, as you mention, does come with some risks as you put yourself out there in the public. If you are worried about that, you could have students blog privately, just like a journal. I know I keep a journal of ideas and things that I'm thinking about that isn't public. And I have a number of blog posts that have not seen the light of day but just writing them has been helpful for me sorting things out. You could shift the students to an digital journal, like they are already doing, that isn't public and see how things work.

  2. It was mentioned in class that we were split almost 50/50 on the privacy issue for student blogging. I can understand your reservations and as I commented on another blog, balance is key. We can only present to the students what we are comfortable with. From your post it is appearing as if you are going through your process to see what works best for you. Good luck!

  3. Hi Ryan

    Your struggles sound very familiar to my own as my initial thoughts on blogging, and why I struggled to engage with it, were trying to visualize how I might use it with my students.

    Traditionally music teachers have struggle with how they might use blogging. You don't see as many music blogs as you see in some other subject areas. Those that you do see are more likely to share information on what is happening in the music department ( like these blogs and ).

    If you were going to use it with student it might be worth considering the type of approach you see used on photography classes (such as ) where the student documents their progression of skills.

    Hope these extra tips helped.

    Sue @suewaters

  4. Just this year I have started to use journals with my grade 5-8 Arts Education classes. I am pleased to see how they have been using them. My students have shared some very personal information with me, which I do not think is suitable for a public blog, and other information that it would be great for their peers to see and discover on their own, instead of me asking the student permission to share it with their peers. I think that blogging would allow for much more creativitiy, particularly in this setting. I know that my students would likely enjoy attaching videos of themselves and things they have found, audio recordings, photos, graphs, and more. Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Great points Ryan. I think blogging does lend itself better to some classes than others, not because of the value of the reflection and sharing but because of the structure of the class. You mentioned a couple of things that stuck with me:
    - the struggle to find organic ways where I can incorporate blogging into my daily routine. YES! Even now as an elementary classroom teacher with more regular access to my students I am struggling to work that piece out. How do I make this an authentic part of instruction and learning?

    - How authentic are people in a blog? I think as you have suggested, that many students would NOT be so forthcoming. How much would be fiction and would the process retain any of its value.
    Hmmm...Good for you for exploring this direction. Would love to hear where it takes you and your students.

  6. Ryan, I guess where I'm struggling is with the idea of students putting their thoughts out there and interacting with the process of blogging, vs. thoughtful responses. Please keep writing about your difficulties with blogging as I am experiencing the same feelings (safety in numbers). And like you I was also thinking in the direction of making blogging an extension of what I already do. I would like the blogs to be public as well, but for privacy issues I will likely keep them private between my students. So then I question the point of blogging in the first place. It's hard to know being new to the process which path to take.