Most K-12 classrooms in the United States today don’t use interactive blogs. By “interactive,” I mean a blog website which permits posts from students as well as the teacher, and comments from blog visitors as well as class members. As I explained in my post earlier this week on the iThemes education blog, “Why WordPress? Class Blogging with Moderated Posts and Comments,” I recommend all classroom blogs be MODERATED to avoid unexpected and/or unpleasant surprises. Despite the availability of outstanding, free blogging websites/platforms which permit content moderation, widespread fear concerning social media and interactive digital exchanges involving students keeps MOST schools (based on my informal surveys) away from embracing the positive power of interactive, digital writing.

The past two months, I’ve had opportunities to ask different groups of educators the same question via an interactive SMS poll powered by PollEverywhere. The question I’ve asked has been:

How many different assignments last year did you invite students to share on your interactive, classroom blog?

The graph below summarizes responses in early June in Fort Bend ISD, which is in Houston, Texas. Of 156 respondents, 78% answered “zero.”

FBISD 2012 Survey Results: Interactive Blog Use

This result is common, in my experience, for most K-12 public schools in the United States today. Why is this? There are many reasons, but some of the most obvious are a fear of interactive technologies, website blocking by overzealous school IT departments, and top-down pressure to “teach to the test” rather than prepare students for their future with digital literacy skills. This situation needs to change, but there are so many facets to it that it can seem overwhelming to know where to start.

This past week, I shared the closing keynote address at the summer 2012 “Discovery Educator Network” Summer Institute in Bozeman, Montana. This group of just over 100 teachers from over 30 U.S. states and five Canadian providences was decidedly NOT ‘representative’ of typical classroom teacher attitudes and behaviors when it comes to instructional technology integration. Here is the graph of participant responses on Thursday: Of 75 respondents, 39% reported giving students opportunities to share their work on an interactive blog for more than five assignments during the past school year. 66% of those responding had let students publish work on an interactive blog at least once during the year.

#DENSI2012 Survey Results: Interactive Blog Use

My favorite quotation from the DEN summer institute was shared during our discussion time after attendees took this poll. One said:

I’m one of the few people here who have NOT yet done this [let students post work on an interactive blog] but now I will feel SAFE doing this when I get back to school.

That comment is a HUGE validation, in my view, of the DEN Summer Institute and the powerful, supportive environment it provides for teachers to take instructional risks and try new learning strategies with students. All our schools need to have supportive cultures where teachers feel empowered, rather than threatened, by the prospect of using interactive digital technologies.

How will you help change “normal” in the classrooms in your school and district this year so INTERACTIVE DIGITAL WRITING on moderated blogs becomes more accepted? That’s a challenge I’d love to see more educators tackle in the school year ahead.

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