I am delighted to be presenting a workshop at Practical Pedagogies 2015 in Toulouse on blogging. My talk is imaginatively titled “Teaching and Learning with Blogs”. This morning I listened to Ewan McIntosh open the conference with a provocation to try to get us to focus on what we wanted from the conference and what our big objective is as educators. By so doing he hoped that we could maximise the impact that this excellent conference could have on our thinking and practice.
One particular element chimed with me: Ewan talked about “Bursting the bubble”, or how do we as an institution engage with the world outside? This is something that I think has been key to my way of thinking ever since I started Creative Blogs and is a prime mover in schools experimenting with blogs and other social media. But he went further and talked about the notion that so many schools think of their mission as preparing children for an unknown future. Children don’t see education that way; they are living their lives now. It reminded me of the incredible Never Seconds blog where Martha Payne famously exposed the inadequacy of meal provision in Scottish Education. The ban and media storm that followed guaranteed headlines. But Martha’s motivation to blog wasn’t about some nebulous learning objective, it was dealing with a real life problem that confronted her at school. Her blog was an engine of change.
Thinking about the potential impact of blogging for my workshop I asked almost 100 9-11 year olds who were new to blogging some simple questions:
Do you prefer to write on your blog or in a book?
70% said on a blog
24% both blogs and books
4% said book
2% said they hated writing and whether it was on a blog or in a book was immaterial
Do you think writing on a blog has improved the standard of your writing?
88% said yes, definitely
12% said it made no difference
Other highlights included only 3% saying that they weren’t bothered about receiving comments, and perhaps, most important of all, 88% said that they read comments carefully and tried to learn from them.
I deliberately asked the teachers not to prep the children for the questionnaire and just wanted their own responses without reference to actual assessment data.
My aim in my workshop is to expand on this and to consider what effective strategies have the teachers in these classes put in place to empower their young bloggers.
As an aside, the Practical Pedagogies conference is a fantastic event and I would heartily recommend it as an inspiring stopover on your CPD journey.
I will also be presenting this workshop at the Computing at School’s Conference in Manchester on Saturday.