Breaking down classroom walls

Getting your students to write blogs is becoming increasingly popular, and the most eloquent exponent of the form is undoubtedly Konrad Glogowski. I recently challenged Konrad to lay out his ‘utopian vision’ student blogging. Here’s part of his reply:

I know that blogging is about conversations and building networks. So far, my students have been building networks within our class community and with some amazing results. It’s time to extend those network-building efforts to include the world outside of their immediate environment.

What benefit would my students get from the comments? I look at it as breaking down the classroom walls. That’s what I want to do next. I want the students to build knowledge by building networks, and I also want them to be able to take those networks with them once they leave my classroom.

I want my student to keep blogging about child soldiers and communicating with experts in this field even after she leaves my class in June so that next time one of my students says “I’m interested in child soldiers,” I can say: “Take a look at this blog. She was in my class a couple of years ago. Send her an e-mail. Subscribe to her blog. You’ll learn a lot.”

Note “communicating with experts in this field”. In classroom blogging, usually only other students from the class are permitted to comment. Konrad wants to extend that, but most schools would see it as inappropriate to allow open commenting on a student blog.

It occurs to me, though, that the ‘share my class with another teacher’ feature in Yacapaca would be perfect for this. It’s a very simple way to permit another adult whom you trust to communicate with your students.

At the moment, Yacapaca doesn’t offer blogs. But it does offer eportfolios, and the two are kissing cousins. The only differences really are that blogs are organised by date, and they traditionally permit permit peer-commenting. In fact, that’s coming for Yacapaca eportfolios anyway.

It’s quite an exciting thought that, with a little interface tweaking, Yacapaca could become the blogging platform of choice for Utopian educators.

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