Monday, October 27, 2008

CCK08 - student blogs

Students are working on community service learning projects. I had them set up blogs to be used to describe their work, report their weekly progress and reflect on the project's contribution to the community. Because community service learning is being added to many college requirements, this is an opportunity for the students engaged in community service learning to share their experience.

Interesting feedback from students. Blogging isn't something that they would choose to do. Setting up a blog was easy enough. It might be good for submitting certain assignments. Perhaps the discussions through comments would be interesting. However, using a blog as a record of progress as a student, was not viewed as important. Certainly not something that be considered an ePortfolio.

Don't students have any interest in preserving or sharing their writing assignments beyond the class? Aren't they proud of the work they have done and want others to have the benefit of their research, their experiences and ideas on these topics? Are the assignments not interesting enough for students to want to have a record of their effort once the course is completed? Are the assignment writing prompts seen as addressing issues that have no relevance beyond the class?

This is pretty disheartening. What are students learning and why if it isn't relevant beyond the assignments and the class? Are students so focused on getting an "A" that there is no value to work or by-products that do not directly contribute to improving their GPA? How did that happen? Why are we wasting all this talent and effort if there is nothing useful to be gained from it that benefits either the student or society?


  1. Do we, as teachers, need to be more explicit in relating how learning experiences are relevant to the student's current life rather than just giving them an interesting (in our view) task?

    Maybe then students will take ownership of the task and want to share their work and critique or discuss others work.

  2. Thanks Ruth. Yes, absolutely, we need to tie assignments to the big picture - "life on the outside".

    My concern is that many students at the community college level have so little interest and understanding that there is any relevance for school work in the real world. There is a deeply held belief that one must excel in school at any price, to the exclusion of any real understanding that they should be looking for applicability beyond course assignment submission. Understanding and applicability are time consuming and messy. "Just tell me what I need to get an A".

    I do what I can but some of these folks are going to be in for a big adjustment down the road. I was just really surprised by the push-back from my students. I hope this is a limited or isolated experience. But it does have serious implications for connectivism and personal learning. That may be farther off than many forward thinking educators realize, if these students are any indication.

    I attended Lisa Lane's @ONE workshop on blogs. She and some of her colleagues are incorporating blogs with considerable success. So I think there is hope.

  3. If you're looking for positive blog stories, then I can share one with you.

    Last year, my son, then a sixth grader, was given a blog to use as he liked. No instructions, no sample blogs. Just the password.

    He has enjoyed it very much. Sometimes, he writes about things he is doing or learning, sometimes he writes things just to be silly. He's posted his stories, a couple of his own movies, and some reflections.

    His teachers sometimes respond to his posts, and he enjoys that. Other parents or family members sometimes respond. And he met a boy his own age, with similar interests, from another town in BC through his blog.

    The blog has let Noah talk about things that are outside the curriculum, and has given him a place to put some of his creations, like his Blue Ball machine.

    Of course, it has also been a great way for him to develop his writing skills.

    Here is his blog:

    As a bit of background, Noah is enrolled in an online school, EBUS Academy (SD 91). His older brothers have all been in neighbourhood schools, so this is a bit of an adventure for us. I am chair of the EBUS Parent Advisory Committee.

  4. Thanks Maureen

    I have heard several encouraging stories about middle school kids with blogs. Thanks for sharing Noah's.