Sunday’s article from Guardian Unlimited (from the UK) titled, “Classroom revolution in bid to boost 3Rs” makes a good case for classroom blogging and podcasting, although those words are not specifically used. Jim Knight, the Schools Minister in the UK, is quoted as saying:

‘In the future, employers will have a guarantee of the quality of the school-leavers they are taking on. A good pass will mean that young people are equipped with the basics. That means being able to write and speak fluently, carry out mental arithmetic, give presentations and tally up a till at the end of the day’, Knight said.

How are we going to make sure students are fluent writers and oral communicators– in both formal and informal settings? There is ONLY one way to achieve this goal: By encouraging students to REGULARLY PRACTICE these skills. A person will not gain proficient skills at ANYTHING, whether it is an athletic or sport skill or an academic skill, without sustained practice. And as any coach knows, practices need to be supervised. I am not a great golfer, but I know that simply going out and practicing on my own– without an opportunity to receive feedback and corrections from a more skilled and experienced mentor, is likely to be worthless and may even be counterproductive if I reinforce poor habit patterns. The same can be true when it comes to writing and oral communication.

Should students in your school be blogging and podcasting during class on a regular basis? Absolutely. Why? Because they need to become highly proficient communicators, and both these modalities are proving to be highly effective and motivating formats to help students improve their authentic literacy skills.

The educational answers we are all looking for WON’T be found in more extensive or rigorous testing regimes. In fact, over-emphasis on testing generally IS counterproductive. Another UK political leader, quoted in the same article, recognizes this:

Students now spend so much time concentrating on exams that their basic education is suffering, said David Willetts, the Tories’ education spokesman.He said there was a ‘very strong argument’ for scrapping AS-levels and restoring the break from having to take exams in the year between GCSEs and A-levels. The current system, whereby teenagers take SATs at 14, GCSEs at 16, AS-levels at 17 and then A-levels a year later, was leading to a situation in which schools ‘teach to the test’.’The whole process of examining is in danger of getting in the way of real education,’ said Willetts.

We need to “scrap” a lot of the testing that we are over-stressing ourselves about here in the United States. We are not adding any minutes to the 24 hour day, so we had better pay more attention to the types of interactions that are most common at school, and the types of tasks teachers are asking students to complete. As Donald Graves observed in a good, short book a few years ago, “testing is not teaching.” (Testing Is Not Teaching: What Should Count in Education) We’ve got to make more time for the things that DO MATTER in education and in life, and improving our skills as oral and written communicators MUST figure high in this calculation. To that end, blogging and podcasting should become part of the regular curriculum in schools– or at least in those schools which wish to remain relevant and effective in the 21st century.

Thanks to Raymond Hartfield for both this link and the previously posted link to the article on Irving ISD laptops. 🙂

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One Response to A good case for classroom blogging and podcasting

  1. Joe Dale says:

    Hi Wes,

    I’ve been writing quite a few posts recently about blogging and podcasting particularly involving projects from Scottish schools. Here are some links:

    http://joedale.typepad.com/integrating_ict_into_the_/podcasting/index.html
    http://joedale.typepad.com/integrating_ict_into_the_/blogging/index.html

    Best wishes

    Joe

    Integrating ICT into the MFL classroom – http://www.joedale.typepad.com

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