How digital portfolios have killed blogs at my school
Students at my secondary school use a blog (set up and organised by the school) to organise their digital portfolios and I think this does a disservice to both blogs and portfolios alike.
Ace elementary bloggers
Students coming up into my secondary school are ace school bloggers. The elementary class blogs represent class learning, individual reflection and shared interests at their best. These blogs reach a wider audience, including people relevant to topics of inquiry. The students reflect a genuine enjoyment of this style of writing and, more importantly, a culture of commenting on each other’s thoughts.
The downfall of the blog
As they make their way through secondary school, our model is clearly failing as I see students becoming progressively disinterested and unmotivated to blog. The reasons behind this, as I see them, are:
1) Logistics – In secondary school we do not have one consistent class – classes are split into a range of groups – from arbitrary letters to House groups, interest and/or ability. As a result, the close knit group of students involved in one shared experience with one central teaching figure no longer exists.
2) Size – Year level blog posts become too large and unwieldy, a subject class blog becomes ineffective (unless there is a very strong related project) which means that innumerable student school blogs become the unfortunate norm. As a result, it becomes very difficult for a blog to rise up from the mire.
3) Motivation – Students soon become unmotivated to complete these because the content is prescribed by teachers as part of a digital portfolio (or more often than not ignored as a medium by teachers).
4) Audience – Parents and a few teachers do not make a credible audience. The lack of an authentic audience provides no opportunities for the much needed dialogue with others; which is what essentially makes blogging so rewarding.
Blogging with passion
To overcome these problems first requires the school to recognise that a blog without passion and/or an audience should not be described as a ‘blog’ and should not be enforced by anyone – on anyone. I would like to see the school provide the time, space and support for students to produce blogs on topics of interest. I am even happy for groups with similar interest to run a shared blog. All I want is to find a practical way for student to express themselves and be part of a wider dialogue and to enjoy that experience.