The exciting power of the web is not in mere information access, but in the interactions, conversations, and CREATION of content that is enabled through web 2.0. I know this is a common theme for me and many others in the edublogsophere, but it is still a counter-cultural idea in many schools and warrants repeating often. On Paul Caplan’s blog page “working with wikis” he writes:

For too long we have tried to force the Internet to behave like traditional media – top down delivery of information. We have tried to harness it for education, publishing and business by seeing it as a cheap publishing medium or at best a way of democratising one-way ‘munication’. Even the latest fad of blogging is just the latest attempt to get the Net to behave itself. But the Net is about co-mmunication, conversation and collaboration. It’s when users work together on creating content that its power begins to appear.

Paul is on the right track here, but I think he may be underestimating the power of blogs to enable interactive discourse. Indeed for many, blogs may be an extension of the top-down transmission web. They are not for me, however, blogs are all about interaction and dialog. Blogs are just a tool, and they can be used well or poorly– in simple or sophisticated ways. I use my personalized Technorati blog search several times a day, most days, to connect with others writing and thinking about ideas similar to mine– and I invariably pick up on new threads of thought I had not encountered previously. This is web 2.0 empowered discourse, aka authentic professional development for the 21st century.

I am struck by the common uses of educational technology I see in most schools today: word processing to create text documents, teacher use of PowerPoint to present lectures, CAI software like “Accelerated Reader” so students can take loads of knowledge/comprehension level examinations about books they’ve read to reinforce an instrumentalist/external locus of control and motivation for reading. Blah!

What excites me most about educational technology is content creation! Students making podcasts, creating digital stories with images and video, expressing their ideas and offering feedback to others via social networking environments like think.com. It can be exciting to READ the web, but it is immensely more motivating and thrilling to WRITE the web. Just as we need students to READ THE WORD, we need them to READ THE WORLD. To do this effectively, we need to increasingly challenge them to WRITE THE WEB instead of just reading it. This certainly can and should include the use of wikis for collaborative projects, but I think it can and should also include the use of student blogs. Lastly, if you aren’t already a reader and subscriber of Scottish educator Ewan McIntosh, get over to his site and start reading!

If you want to get started blogging with your own students, David Warlick’s Blogmeister is an excellent free tool to use. Whether you use Blogmeister or another tool, check out Mark Ahlness’ excellent use of suprlgu to create a “feed river” of content created by his 3rd grade students in Seattle! If you are a teacher wanting to start your own blog, I recommend creating a free blog with Edublogs.org. Blogs are changing students, changing classrooms, and changing teachers. If you’re not already on board, it’s time to jump on the train!


Did you know Wes has published 3 eBooks, and 1 of them is available free? Check them out!

If you're trying to listen to a podcast episode and it's not working, check this status page. (Wes is migrating his podcasts to Amazon S3 for hosting.) Remember to follow Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wesley's Facebook pages for "Speed of Creativity Learning" and his eBook, "Playing with Media." Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Mapping Media to the Common Core / Curriculum."

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