Posted by: shineonali | March 2, 2010

The Reluctant Blogger? (COETAIL Week 2)

I realize now that I am not a blogger at heart.  I have dreaded sitting down to write this post.  I have been thoroughly enjoying reading the articles.  But the idea of choosing a few thoughts to share with the world–that overwhelms me.  I often find myself wanting to argue, “yeah, but–” as I read articles like Engage Me or Enrage Me by Marc Prensky or Clayton Christensen’s Disrupting Class, but then I realize that I get their main point.  They push for change in a more extreme way than I would, but I don’t disagree with the heart of their message.  I think they write in the way they do in order to provoke hearty debate, and cause people to question their thinking.

I would describe myself as a thoughtful (read: cautious) implementer of technology.  Probably overly focused on the practicalities: how do I do this with my students in my classroom in a way that makes sense? So suggestions like Prensky’s that students should

be continuously challenged at the edge of their capabilities, and could make important decisions every half-second, and could have multiple streams of data coming in, and could be given goals that they want to reach but wonder if they actually can, and could beat a really tough game and pass the course—maybe then they wouldn’t have to, as one kid puts it, “power down” every time they go to class

tend to make me a little anxious.  Overall, I understand where he’s coming from–we need to meet students where they are at, in order to engage them.  We need to take advantage of the innovations (sustaining or otherwise) that Christensen describes.  I’m trying to become a better educator by learning more about and implementing them.  However, I need to stand firm in my role as a sort of “gatekeeper”.   There is a difference between being engaged and being entertained.  It’s entertaining to chat online with my friends–and I would certainly say that I’m engaged in what I’m doing–but there isn’t necessarily any educational value in it.  Sure, I’m building my social network, which could lead to learning, but if I don’t bother to or don’t know how to put that network to use…it might not be the best use of my time.  (Let’s put aside for now the implication that kids can only be engaged via technology…)

Which leads me to something that has been bugging me I’ve been thinking about lately.  I am totally into the idea of the Collaboration Age that I read about in Will Richardson’s World Without Walls.  It still amazes me and inspires me as a teacher to be connected to and learning with other educators around the world or even around the corner.  (I finished my Masters 5 years ago and completed most of it online.)  And I was convinced last year of the power of students connecting with other students by the fabulous Kim Cofino.  However, I now have 21 students with blogs, they have another 100 counterparts in our grade at our school alone, and it’s just really hard to get them (okay, myself, too) motivated to comment thoughtfully and in a way that constructs learning.  They (we?) might be happier to comment on and play with the digital pets they like to put up, but what about the big ideas we were hoping to see growing on our blogs?  The inspired writing?  The organic learning?

And yet I persevere.  I am curious to see if my students will respond to the questions I am starting to leave in my comments to them.  I am trying even harder to have blogging replace, rather than add on to existing activities.  In our COETAIL class it was suggested that we have about 5 of our classmates plus about 10 other blogs in our RSS feeds.  That’s a lot of reading when you consider that a blog post often presents you with links to other blogs or articles that you might be interested in.  We are expecting a lot of our students when we ask them to engage with (read and comment on) other blogs as well as produce content for their own.

So, a long blog post later, I am starting to realize that maybe I can be a blogger after all.  Haven’t even touched on this (second) week’s readings.  I’ll just have to keep reading and posting, I guess.

Here’s what I’ll be pondering this week, though:

Is it a “digital immigrant” attitude to assume that because it’s using a (relatively) new technological tool, it’s going to be motivating for kids?  I mean, to a “digital native“, it’s just the way it’s done, isn’t it?  So ultimately, isn’t it the learning itself that has to be motivating?



  1. Thanks for putting your thoughts down…and blogging as I think you might have found out in this post many times is just writing what you’re thinking. I have found myself many times in the same position starting with not knowing what to say and just start writing….then end up with this long random post that helps me clarify a lot of little things I’d been thinking about, or at least bring those back to the forefront of my brain. Now you have me thinking. 😉

  2. I don’t use blogs with my students for exactly the reasons you’ve identified. Not everyone is a blogger. We’re a specific breed I think. I use ning instead because i think it provides the virtual community I want my students exposed too, and it allows for them to comment on discussion posts or upload a blog post. It feels more purposeful to me because we seed our nings with videos, discussion posts, links and photos that support our curriculum. Other teachers are learning to use them and I think it’s because they are less labour intensive than commenting on individual blogs. Good luck with your learning – you’re asking questions – always a good sign that you’re processing this stuff and finding ways to integrate it meaningfully for yourself and your students.

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