Help me out here. I am on our school tech committee and have been charged with researching student web publishing policies so that we can develop one for our k-12 school.

One of my problems is this: half the committee see absolutely no value to publishing student work (particularly writing) to the web. They are especially opposed to student blogging--even blogging that is moderated by the teacher (both posts and comments). Beyond that no student names or pictures are published. The kids use pseudonyms at the elementary level.

Can anybody point to any research or any other resources that will help bolster the case for student blogging? Eloquent arguments and thoughts are welcome too. I need compelling reasons and evidence to overcome this resistance.

Tags: aup, blogs

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Moving Forward (http://movingforward.wikispaces.com/Blogs) is a great resource with examples, rational, etc.
I am so fortunate that my leadership team at school are right behind us with students blogging. We started with a class blog but all students from grads 4 to 10 have their own individual blog. They are administrators jointly with me, but have avatars and no individual photos. We have been going for about 8 months now. If you are interested they are all linked if you scroll right down the rhs of my blog at http://murch.globalteacher.org.au and categorised into their year levels. I wrote a post on 20 reasons why students should blog at http://murcha.wordpress.com/2008/03/14/20-reasons-why-students-shou... Other areas of interest for you are http://theedublogger.edublogs.org/getting-started-with-edublogs/
I will add that blogging with students is the most powerful learning tool that I have witnessed in the 25 years that I have taught. We are learning all the time how to make them more powerful for improving outcomes for students.
Unfortunately, I don't have any evidence, but anecdotally I've seen the same thing that Anne has. Students have a whole different attitude toward writing now because they have an authentic purpose: they're publishing for an audience. They're not writing to put it in the folder, they're not writing to staple it to a bulletin board, they're writing to put it on the web so their friends, their mom and dad, and their relatives can see it and respond to it.

So that's the concept I would start to introduce at your school - that step in the writing process called publishing. How are teachers publishing their students' work now? Where is the authentic audience? If they have that now and students are motivated and happy writers, I would back off - your school doesn't need blogs. However, if your school is more typical, where students don't really publish their writing and their motivation for it goes down in the upper elementary grades, I would start advocating for blogs in that context.

I think the ultimate goal is to form a community around the blogs while keeping a focus on good writing. I think your most powerful example will be schools that have done exactly that; the evidence will be the work.

At our school, we're just dipping our toes into blogs so unfortunately I can't show you that, but I have two small examples:

* Here's an example of some strong writing, I think. I absolutely love the description of the basketball practice and the tough coach! Plus, look at the way he frames the experience which shows how his attitude has changed.

Now, I'm the computer lab teacher! I would've never noticed he could write if he didn't have a blog and I surely wouldn't have a way to tell him so. Isn't that worth something? I think it is.

* During the school year, we had a tragic event occur: a student's father passed away. Now she didn't want to dwell on it and she didn't want to write much, but she did feel it was important to say something about it so she wrote this. As a piece of writing, it may not be that good at first glance, but there's so much between the lines and what she doesn't say. But the real reason I bring it up here is because of the comments her entry inspired. I think you can see there the type of community that can be brought in around blogs and that it can be a positive force. I think it shows the evidence of the power of writing, not only in that original post but also in those reactions.
I also had a student whose Dad was killed in an horrific car accident. The student and other siblings were in the car as well. Two years has since passed, and she wrote a page on her blog about her experiences. She also got lots of supportive comments from both her fellow class members and the wider global community which helped her grieving. See her post at http://honka.globalstudent.org.au/my-dad/
Thanks for the responses. You saved me a lot of digging around.

My student have had their own blogs for several months now. I'd have to say it has had a positive effect overall. Most students are writing more if nothing else!

My supportive superintendent has just left and I don't know what the climate will be like next year. For the time being I have to deal with this committee which has pressed me to take a few steps backward. My fifth graders use pseudonyms and cannot post personal information. All post and comments are moderated by me. It is hosted on a commercial shared server using WordPressMU, so it won't compromise our infrastructure. Even the email addresses in the database are fake.

For the time being, the blogs are password protected because of concerns (in spite of the aforementioned measures). Hopefully, I can return them to public viewing next year!

You'll help me articulate the importance of audience!

Steve
I assume you've already tried, "HELLO - it's the 21st century, people!" ;-)
Hi Steve,

Solomon and Schrum's book web 2.0: new tools, new schools from ISTE has some good research in the first few chapters. It doesn't address web publishing per se but it does look at larger issues and research which I think can help with your response.

Konrad Glogowski's blog of proximal development is an awesome great resource too.

I hope it helps. Good luck!
Thanks everyone!

I grabbed a copy of Web 2.0: New Tools, New Schools. This book will be a great help organizing my case. An excellent read overall. I forwarded the pdf link to chapter one to everyone on the committee.

I'm making progress addressing concerns with facts and sound arguments. One step at a time!

Steve

Steve

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