A comment on a post here touched on the issue of blogs in education – something I’ve given much thought to over the last year or so. Much has been written about the benefits of blogs especially in the context of K-12 education – mostly ideas around publishing and collaborative learning, facilitated by the ease of setup and use of this tool. The last couple of years have seen a phenomenal rise in the use of blogs in the classroom in the US.
[In keeping my with firm beliefs in first making teachers aware and fluent in the technology we would like them to use], I do think that we cannot expect teachers to design curriculum around blogs unless they’ve experienced blogging first-hand. So teacher awareness about the world of blogs one of the goals I set out to achieve this past year.
Educational Blogging (an article that appeared in the Sept/Oct 2004 issue of Educause) was one of the earlier writings on this subject. It was this article that I distributed to a group of teachers that I work with (at MAIS, Bangalore) as an introduction to the world of blogging in education. As part of the team that was facilitating a teacher professional development program (called Professional Practice and Studies in Education, or PPSE) for these teachers, and designing their coursework, I worked the use of blogs into their PD curriculum – having them reflect on their teaching practice or any other specified topic, on their personal blogs that I helped them set up. (I think a teacher’s blog could serve well as his/her e-portfolio too). I also set up a group blog that would operate as a common platform for discourse on education, or even just for announcements and general communication among the group.
Some of these efforts were also aimed at building a community of practice (CoP). Teaching is known to be (to a large extext) a solitary activity and we wanted to set up modes of communication that would alleviate some of the isolation teachers experience in their profession.
As was expected, some of the 21 teachers who are part of the PPSE program took to blogging more easily than others. All in all, it's been a rewarding experience. The fact that some teachers have started blogs for their subjects with their students is icing on the proverbial cake. Mission Accomplished!!!
(Unfortunately in a country such as ours, hesitancy in written communication in English can be a huge stumbling block in such an endeavor even for some teachers in urban English-medium schools such as 2nd and 3rd language teachers. Will save that for a later discussion…)