“Blogging is a process of bringing life into learning… “ – Stephen Downes
According to Selwyn (2011), learning is a process of making sense about who you are and understanding the world around you, and the term of education is learning-conscious or formalized-learning. In other words, our educational communities aim at teaching us how to consciously find our personal identity and the knowledge about the world. However, nowadays the lines of learning blur between formal and informal education. It means that today the focus is more on how we learn. As mentions above, blogging is a process of bringing life into learning (Downes, 2004). In this sense, during the learning process, it is crucial to make a connection between knowledge and experiences (life) and blogging might be one of the best approaches to be closer to the way we learn. What’s more, in order to enhance learning, many of researchers, educators, and even teachers highlight the values of using blogs in education. Yet, does blogs really can enhance learning or it is just too idealistic? Personally, I am still optimistic about using blogs in education as well, even though there are some challenges in the field.
Using blogs in education to support learning is a really interesting and fascinating idea as always. What makes blogs so attractive is user-friendly (Downes, 2004). Everyone no matter who she or he is can easily entry blogs and do not need to worry about any computing techniques. Besides, there are some features of blogs such as personal editorship, a hyperlinked posting structure, frequent update, free public access to the content via the Internet and archived posting (Bartlett-Bragg, 2004). By these features of blogs, people can get to know the thoughts of the bloggers. Nevertheless, as Selwyn (2009) observes, there are a “90-9-1 rule of participation inequality”. It means that only one percent of users have willing to create the original content, nine percent of users comment, and approximately 90 percent of users just passively consume (Nielsen, as cited in Selwyn, 2009). To be honest, I am one of the 90 percent people in the majority of time. Yet, I do not think it is a big problem. It only means that people like me participate in a different way (Downes, 2004). They may think or reflect by their own and then share with the person in the real life.
Nevertheless, I do believe that if teachers would like to use blogs in education, it might be crucial to guide students how to use it effectively since in the digital age young people get used to the massive information and do not know how to use the social web effectively. Recently deep learning is one of the popular issues in ICT in education because of the three-dimensional learning style in the fast-paced age. Bartlett-Bragg (2004) mentions blogs could enrich the learning experience and offer learners chances to shift from surface levels of learning to deeper learning. Learners reflect and construct the knowledge. Therefore, instead of assigning writing a blog, teachers could instruct students to read more. Read something interesting to you such as your culture, your community and your ideas before blogging, engage a community and reflect it, and then you will find your own identity or something meaningful to you (Downes, 2004).
Turning now to the educational blogging, there are some different voices here. Downes (2004) believe that blogs do break down barriers while Selwyn (2009) indicates in practice it is not difficult to find that the inequality of opportunity of social web technology. Downes (2004) states that “blogging not only made us access to the event but part of the event.” In this sense, blogging in education can include individuals to be part of the classroom and share and exchange the ideas with others. For example, learners can use the blog to link to the others blogs and comment on it. In addition, there are no certain formats or rules you have to follow. Usually, the posts on the blogs are short, informal and so on and so forth so that learners have no burden on sharing thoughts on the blogs and it builds a lovely learning setting. However, Selwyn (2009) observes that much of the popular bloggers have the great background or well-educated. There still exists the inequality in blogging.
Last but not least, as I mention, I do believe blogging in education is a great idea. Yet, the problem is how to use it to support learning effectively. What’s more, there are something I have to say is that blogging in education is indeed an interesting issue but tricky as well. For instance, “by its very nature, assigned blogging in schools cannot be blogging. It is contrived.”(Richard, as cited in Downes, 2004). Therefore, researchers, educators, and teachers should stand back and look beyond the over-value of the social web and rethink the realities of social technology such as blogs and education as Selwyn emphasizes (2009).
Bartlett-Bragg, A. (2004). Blogging to Learn Flexible Learning, 2004 edition, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia
Downes, S. (2004). Educational Blogging, EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 39, no. 5 (September/October 2004): 14–26
Selwyn, N. (2009). Challenging educational expectations of the social web: a web 2.0 far? Digital Kompetanse Vol 4: 72-85
Selwyn, N. (2011). ‘Education and Technology: key issues and debates’. London, Continuum.