Which assignment is better, writing a paper or posting a blog?

In my assigned role as devil's advocate, I'd like to see the reasons why a teacher would want to have students write a blog to illustrate what they have learned on a topic (large or small) vs writing the traditional paper with sources cited, artwork on the cover, and eraser marks as needed. What would be the advantages of assigning a blog be created? What would be the pitfalls? What would be necessary in order for all participants to be able to post a blog equally with their peers (if, for example they don't have a computer at home!)? Then, when you have considered the advantages, the superintendent tells you they won't let you do it unless you can supply research information that these advantages exist and are beneficial to students!

Tags: advantages, blogging, commons, creative, instruction, of, technology, use

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Indigo, Agree with observations about ISTE standards--blogs, wikis, video, podcasts are just ways to meet those standards. Now, if we could just get districts to adopt the standards both for students and teachers.
Nancy,

Until or unless they do, they are of little guidance in the question posed. At present, the ISTE standards can be a guide to the experiences students have in a separate computer class, but until they are adopted into the state or district objectives, the teacher could be accused of not following his/her objectives for the students in the actual subject matter to include these skills on a teaching basis.
Whatever.
Indigo,

Noting your lack of expertise in making such a comparison, I will note that the ISTE standards are not yet adopted in whole or in part in state curricula. The example is not a computer class where use of the technology goal but in a non-specified subject class where the emphasis is on learning the subject at hand. Peer review is, I would think of limited value in helping the student develop knowledge in the subject. Collaboration may be more helpful if the collaboration is with a expert in the field. Otherwise it would not provide improvements that could not be had by assignment the paper to be written by a classroom pair or group. Exposure to other cultures depends on how widely the blog is opened to the general public. It could have disastrous consequences as well as provide contact with peers in other cultures. In the case of highly-diversified classes, it may provide no benefits over partnering with a student in the class. How much it prepares a student for post high school and how valuable it is depends on what line of work the student goes into and how much computer communications are a part of that job. Most jobs that I am seeing heavily depend on the use of email not blogging.
Anne, You seem to be trying to compare apples and oranges. The blog is not a vehicle for research, it's a way to get kids to communicate in writing with others and have an authentic audience for their writing. Why don't you go to a local school and help a teacher set up a blog. I think you will be amazed at how much writing, thinking and reflection is going on. Yes, an expert may be contacted by email--that is not the purpose of a blog.

If all we did was worry about the negative 'what-ifs" we would have never allowed the internet in our schools.

BTW, the ISTE goals are not for 'computer classes'. They are standards that help teachers and students integrate technology in all classrooms no matter what the content is.
Nancy,

I got that the blog is not the finished produce. I had a wrong impression of what a blog is. Most of the blogs I've seen had no place for comment, so they appeared to me to be an editorial of some type. Obviously I don't know very much about blogs. My bad!

In my experience, in order to garner responses from classes overseas, the teacher has to find and contact the school overseas first, an arrange for the exchange.

In the case of blogs that are open to anyone, how often do they attract spam instead of legitimate replies??

In short, if you have to develop a contact, is a blog the best place for the exchange, or would it be better in a forum or in simple email?
You're absolutely right that you'll have to contact a school overseas to do global collaboration, but isn't that true whether you use blog or email? So that's equally a challenge regardless of the medium, right? Actually, at this point, I think you might have an easier time getting people to collaborate globally with Web 2.0 tools than via email.

A blog that doesn't provide a place to comment isn't really a blog, in my opinion, and it certainly isn't what most of us are thinking of when we talk about blogs for education.

My blog is open to comments from anyone. I use Wordpress.com, which is a free host, and Akismet, which is a terrific spam filtering tool. I hardly see any spam to deal with directly; much less than I do in my email.

One advantage of a blog rather than email is that you can attract more audience in public than just the email. Students can enjoy sharing their work with family members in other parts of the country. And imagine the thrill that students can feel when they get a comment from a teacher or adult unrelated to the project; suddenly they have a real audience to write for, and the assignment becomes much more authentic.

As an example, take a look at some of these reflections on blogging by third graders. I quoted a few of them and left comments on their site. Their teacher, Mark Ahlness, worked hard to unblock my blog so they could see that I quoted them. But the kids were so excited that several of them continued blogging after the end of the school year. How many times in your experience has a traditional research paper excited kids so much that they continued writing during the summer? And even if you've got a few examples where it did, were you averaging 4 kids of every class doing so like Mark?

If you'd like to see an example of real global collaboration happening in schools right now, I encourage you to check out the Flat Classroom Project. There's a lot of great stuff on that site, and you really need to spend more than a few minutes to fully appreciate how much they are doing. But I think most superintendents would be impressed by those final projects, don't you?
Anne, Yes, the blog is the best resource for exchanges between students because they can respond to many discussions (like we do here) and then others can respond to their comments. A good blog is s threaded discussion (like a forum but easier to set up and monitor), many blogs you see have comments made regarding the original post but you cannot respond to the commentors (not a true threaded discussion). Everybody can see what everybody else is writing about and of course the teacher monitors it--unlike email which can be private the blog writing is out there, so there are no untoward comments made.

Check ePals for examples of projects or interactions between kids in different countries, they set it all up.

You can set a blog to recieve only input from 'known' people, my kids blogs are posted immediately but if a guest logs in I preview before posting. In three years we have had NO spam, there are hundreds of spams on email. It's all in the set up.
Anne, You might have missed the blog boat. Blogs would not be used for posting what one has learned (research), it is not a webpage or a wiki. Blogs are used to stimulate written 'conversation' and discussion, on our classroom, A Really Different Place, students in grades 4-8, parents, teachers and approved visitors discuss topics of interest. Note there are a lot of topics being discussed--from the ridiculous to the serious. Over the three years we have blogged we have had 97,000 sites visits from 119 different countries. That's a heck of a lot of thinking, reading, writing, and reflecting. There is nothing comparable with pencil and paper.

If a student did not have access to a computer at home they could blog at school. IMHO, a superintendent who didn't embrace blogging would be a superintendent out of touch.

I also write another blog on using primary sources in the classroom, you can see that here. You might enjoy writing a blog since you have opinions about of a lot of things. The hard part is developing a readership. Later, N.
Nancy, you have to assume that there are some number of superintendents who you would deem to be "out of touch". I've noticed that when people write blogs they end up communicating in other venues that they have done so in order to drum up a response. More often than not I see blogs as a venue for people to write unsupported opinions, which are probably better written within a communication network.
Indigo,

On one of the links you posted earlier, it said that 99% of the blogs are of no interest. Therefore it would be a waste of time to just plough through a list of blogs. On the list of business blogs I noticed that a number of companies that had blogs, discontinued them. Did you check out any of the blogs on the list you posted, or did you just collect the links for me to slog through?
Anne, I just looked at all the blogs Indigo posted and they worked fine on my computer, maybe you need an upgrade. Get off Indigo's back--you are just rude and not adding to the discussion in a postitive way.

Sorry you were too busy to look through (slog) some of the blogs, you might have understood Indigo's point that blogs have become ubiqutious and there is lots of good stuff out there. Now when you finish with blogs and Creative Commons are we going to have to explain wikis, podcast, video conferencing? Do your homework before you come to the discussion--I'm apologizing in advice for being harsh but all you are doing is alienating more and more readers and would hate for you to be banned when you have a lot to learn. BTW I'm not a 'youngen', I'm 61. N

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