Mark Ahlness has written a great post he titled “The Case for Classblogmeister” that teachers and administrators contemplating options for classroom blogging should definitely check out. If you’re not familiar with David Warlick’s free Classblogmeister tool, you definitely should be. Many, many teachers are using it– and others started with it who have branched out to other tools. Mark wrote:
So here’s my testimonial, my sales pitch for Classblogmeister. First, it’s not blocked. Next, it offers TOTAL teacher approval before any student post or comment on a student post (take that, MySpace fear mongers). Teachers can leave online feedback for students to improve their writing (like if they want to get it published) that is hidden from public view. Next, it’s free (thanks to David W’s generosity). It also has a very active list on Yahoo! Groups for sharing and problem solving. Last, I have never, in 25 years of teaching, seen a more powerful classroom tool for motivating students to write. Nothing else even comes close. It is the perfect blogging tool for teachers.
There is more on his post, so check it out– I agree with Mark that we did not hear much about Blogmeister in the posts from NECC and we should have. I listened last week to the great four part series on “Telling the New Story” that Dean Shareski posted recently (part 1 – part 2 – part 3 – part 4). I actually haven’t listened to part 4 yet– I’ll do that this week– lots of great stuff there, but my favorite section was probably hearing Clarence Fisher talk in part 3 about his evolutionary journey with different blogging tools. Clarence is now using Learnerblogs with his elementary students, but he didn’t start with that tool– Classblogmeister was his entry-point into the world of blogs and he articulates well how that journey proceeded and why the tools he selected for class and student blogging are working for him. As with any technology, different tools should be used depending on purpose and context, which can change over time.
I am a big advocate for the safe use of blogs in the classroom– they can serve as a positive, disruptive influence for student engagement and literacy development. As Brandi Caldwell said last night in our skypecast about NECC 2006, however, small steps are the key— Clarence describes the process as a teacher getting comfortable with reading blogs as putting their toe in the water, and then moving forward with the entire foot I think, as they learn about aggregation, setting up a class blog, etc.
Mark’s sentiments about the importance of students having THEIR OWN blog are on target also, I think. He wrote:
Anyone reading here who is looking for a safe blog for students, look no farther than Classblogmeister. It is especially suited for elementary and middle school aged children. Please be clear about this, students EACH HAVE THEIR OWN BLOGS. In my opinion, having students leave comments on a teacher’s blog is NOT blogging, nor does that practice empower students to deal in any way with the reality they face when they go home and go online – which is part of the reason to start young, and at school. More importantly, it does not present a learning opportunity for writing.
FEAR is really prevalent in our world, unfortunately, and the educational environment is no exception. I had a wonderful conversation last week with Glen Henry, who is the Director of Arts in Education for the Office of Standards and Curriculum in the state of Oklahoma. Glen observed that if students in class are not engaged, they are often experiencing either ANXIETY or FEAR. Teachers may fit into this frame as well. Blogging with students is by nature a risky enterprise, and we don’t want people to have bad initial experiences.
Administrators, teachers, and parents are likely to cringe with fear at not just the prospect of students blogging or commenting on blogs, but also having their own blogs. To this fearful response, Classblogmeister is a great response. A teacher in Garland, Texas last year presented to her school board to win approval of her request to use Classblogmeister with students. She was able to demonstrate how she would have CONTROL over the content posted– and that is the main thing the adults are concerned about. Depending on the age of students, the culture of the classroom, etc– other teachers may want to “get out of the way” as Clarence says, and give the kids more freedom. But Clarence is in the minority of teachers, I think, having his kids in his classroom most of the day. (This is sad, I think self-contained classrooms are generally preferable when a caring teacher is in charge– but that’s an aside.) So especially in elementary contexts– but possibly also in secondary classes, there are persuasive reasons for teachers to start classroom blogging with Classblogmeister.
Mark is right, we need more people talking about Classblogmeister and sharing it with other teachers. David Warlick is quite gracious to grant access to Blogmeister to any teacher who will contact him. There is no getting around the inherent risk of using disruptive technologies in the classroom– but Mark is correct that Blogmeister provides more CONTROL and FEEDBACK possibilities for teachers than other blogging tools out there. In our era of headlines about MySpace and other issues related to internet safety, we definitely need to also be talking about Blogmeister!
If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, subscribe to Wes' free newsletter. Check out Wes' video tutorial library, "Playing with Media." Information about more ways to learn with Dr. Wesley Fryer are available on wesfryer.com/after.
On this day..
- Email Multiple Photos from an iPad to A Blogger Site - 2013
- Nebraska Science Teachers Model "Go Outside" Best Practices with Students - 2011
- Quick-edit Videography with iMovie for iPad - 2011
- Surviving the Liberian Civil War - A Personal Story - 2010
- Google Images now integrates Creative Commons Searches - 2009
- The challenge: Record "Geek Rockstar" - 2008
- Leverage Multimedia in Your Online Courses by Eric Fudge (integrating SCORM within your LMS) - 2008
- links for 2008-07-09 - 2008
- Graphic design fun - 2007
- Rethinking out of state tuition - 2006