I posted a couple of comments on Mark’s blog continuing the conversation about classblogmeister.
Again, I’ll state my original position. Classblogmeister is a wonderful tool and perhaps the best starting point for teachers and is an ideal tool for younger students. (I’ll leave the definition of younger students to the reader)
At some point one has to decide whether or not you see your class blog as disposal and also whether you hope students will maintain it beyond the life of the class. I highly doubt that high school students using classblogmeister will continue to blog after the class has wrapped up. Further, are teachers willing to continue to monitor the site. At some point, we need to prepare students for a longer perspective of blogging other than just for a class. Developing a reputable online presence is something we ought to be doing with our students.
Part of my belief that blogmeister has a limited shelf life in terms of age is the popularity of myspace. Ugly as most of the sites are, they are partly popular because of the high level of customization. Customization is not simply a frivolous waste of time but I think is critical to develop ownership. Students love to decorate lockers, binders and notebooks to mark their territory. Will this make them work harder or produce higher quality work? I don’t know for sure but I’m guessing it will. People generally look after things they create better than if it’s simply given to them.
Gary Stager talks about giving kids laptops not just having them use them. They need to make it their own.
So again, I love classblogmeister and David Warlick deserves all the praise for providing this tool but I do think there comes a time when the training wheels need to come off and other tools are more appropriate.
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I’ve been thinking about this since I last read the comments on Mark’s post. The whole blogosphere is changing at a rapid rate. I think most of the time when I am trying out a new read/write tool, it is the process, not the final product. I think this discussion is just that, and it may help some people decide which blog account they will use, or that David Warlick will add more options, or not.
I use http://www.think.com with my school students. This is a closed blog, open only to students with their login and password. My purpose, that students will create and maintain a blog with friends around the world in an appropriate manner. Like Mark’s students, my students about 100 out of 200 have continued with their blogging over our school vacation. Like Mark’s students they have begged me to let them continue when they move on to the next grade. If I return to the purpose, that they create and maintain a blog, while being appropriate, should I let them continue? I think the answer is yes. Think.com has some great features that allow me to monitor 200 blogs. I review content, they have their posts go up immediately. I believe I am preparing them for their next foray into the next blogging account their classroom teachers decide upon.
Blogging options, is a wiki a blogging option?, are appearing daily. I have many blogs and some have remained dormant for more than 3 months. I tried out the blogs, the features, and I moved on. My SupRglu contains the most important archive. I believe there will be something like that for our students, I believe there will be more read/write options available in the next 3 months. I believe this is all about options and the process and the process and the products are ever evolving.
I think having “safe” blogging options to help some schools and teachers give it a try is essential. There is some hesitation and fear out there. Fear to try something new in this day of high stakes testing, fear of the unknown, fear of losing control. As a Technology Integration specialist I try to help people get over the fear and give it a go. Having safe options helps them exprenience the new tools, get comfortable with it, see the potential and hopefully free them to be more adventerous in the future.
Well I suppose I better say something 🙂 First, I think it is testimony to the power of Classblogmeister that its strengths and weaknesses are being openly debated out here. It is also testimony to its influence and success. Dean, I know you would never have brought up a wimpy, worthless tool that nobody saw much use for except for a few, that nobody could defend…
Next, if the primary “case” against Classblogmeister is that it just doesn’t ring the chimes of high school students – well, I think that’s a pretty weak case. I doubt David Warlick had his eyes on high school students as the primary beneficiaries of the tool when he was developing it.
On customization, I agree kids love it, that it sucks them into things. As an elementary school teacher however, I will also point out it’s one of the biggest dangers lurking out there in introducing new technologies. I don’t know how many times I said, as my kids had just been shown (or discovered) some new bell or whistle in PowerPoint and were obsessing over it, “frankly, I don’t care how it looks, I care about what you have to SAY”. Sound familiar, teachers?
Last, on the issue of longevity of blogs. I might be misunderstanding, but I’m assuming we’re talking here about how long student blogs last, not how long Classblogmeister lasts – right? Anyway, having spent a school year blogging successfully with third graders, here are a couple of thoughts on longevity:
1) my kids and I want their blogs to continue. I do because it will be a record of their progress as writers (it’s all about writing). They want their blogs to continue because they are proud of them, because they simply want to KEEP DOING THIS. They love being contributors, having a global audience, all that good stuff.
2) will I continue to monitor and publish their writing after they leave my class? Well, I am right now. I’ve told them ’til the end of the summer. Then who knows? There are a couple of possibilities – actually transferring their blog to another teacher’s classroom blog, or I could even continue to monitor and publish. Maybe there is a new tool right around the corner that allows the importing of a Classblogmeister blog. This is totally uncharted territory, and I am not pulling off the road now…
The obvious ps to all of this is that the kids I am talking about are young. Technology will change (duh) in the course of their education. I am going to give them every opportunity to spread their wings and fly as far as is safe – right now. As far as I am concerned, Classblogmeister is the clear tool of choice.
As for the perfect blogging tool for high school students, I’ll leave that for somebody else. I can tell you, though, there will be fewer choices in the US than in many other places… but that’s another conversation.
Well, Dean, this has gotten to be a mighty long comment, so I guess it now becomes a post on my own blog, too 🙂 Thanks for continuing and pushing the conversation. – Mark
I keep reading and have found myself going back (maybe not far enough) to find what are the best options for setting up not just a class blog but a school district blog. Or maybe that is the larger debate at hand. Our district has a fairly restrictive AUP where any information posted by a teacher, student, or district level personnel must be contained on our servers. Along with that restriction we also had to deal with a content approval issue. We have worked together, instructional technology and information technology, and WordPress seems to be the answer when it comes to a blogging solution for our school district. Or at least I thought so until I listened to the Pros and Cons of Educational Blogging Options podcast. I had my mind made up before I started reading the many post and listening to all the options. WordPress has the scalability to have a blog for every school and teacher. Teachers will be given “admin” privileges for their account and will therefore have the ability to create accounts for students. Posts can be password protected as to restrict access if desired as well as entire blogs can be managed so that you must be a registered user to post. Furthermore, I plan to set up the blogs in my Bloglines.com account to monitor the post until everyone gets comfortable with the process. Best of all it meets the requirements of our IT department. I even got their cooperation in finding WordPress as a blogging solution. My question is this… Am I in the minority when it comes to having a cooperative IT department, access to a district server, and the ability to create blogs/accounts for individual teachers? With all the talk about wonderful services like classblogmeister and the list of options that are to be discussed Tuesday night on the Skypecast I can’t help but wonder if I am heading down the right path. Have we missed something in my planning for success? I would love to hear your thoughts.
I would hate to give any platform preference over another. If you go to the wetpaint site, you’ll see some of the tools and options.
I again, don’t want anyone to think classblogmeister is a poor choice, it’s just that it’s not the only choice and does have limitations which need to be acknowledged. Both Wes and I use WordPress and I can say it’s great but I have no experience using it on the scale of which you speak.
You might also want to check with Anne Davis and see how see has set things up. Not sure if she uses Movable Type or Manilla.