Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Use of Blogs as Blended Learning

Since the start of my Tech class at Brock, I have absolutely loved having a blog where I can express my thoughts and feelings about education.  Today in class we were asked a question about the use of blogs for blended learning and the concerns that may arise from their use.  Blended learning involves the mixing of different learning environments.  In terms of technology, blended learning would entail the mixing of face-to-face learning with computer-mediated learning.  My understanding of this is that face-to-face learning occurs in the classroom with a teacher and classmates physically present.  Computer-mediated learning to me means that students can learn via their computer - by interacting with other students using video chats, surfing the Internet for research purposes, and of course, creating blogs.

When I think about students creating blogs, I think of blogging as a means to enhance and improve student learning.  Adding a technological dimension to their education means that they are gaining skills in "netiquette" (which is so important in increasingly web-based communication practices) and have a way to describe their thinking processes regarding content that they've learned, such as I am doing right now!

Concerns that I have about students using blogs in a blended learning environment mainly surround Internet safety and the creating of one's digital footprint.  Beginning at such a young age, students now have the ability to create their digital footprint and leave a potentially very permanent trail behind.  Teachers need to ensure that they make their students aware of the safety risks in using one's full name, address, phone number, or any other type of identification that could potentially land them in trouble.  Even though I have put my full name on my blog and Twitter account, etcetera, it is important to note that young children may not have developed full-fledged reasoning skills when it comes to knowing the "okay" places to identify oneself and how to maintain privacy when/where necessary.  Young children can be very vulnerable to online safety risks, and we as teachers need to build this into our lessons that involve the use of technological communication just as we tell them to "look both ways before you cross the street".

On a final note, I believe blogging is a great way for students to really develop their craft as writers and become familiar with a tool that can lead to reflection of learning, higher-level thinking skills, and decision-making.

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