Stephen Downes comments on the »Weblogs and Discourse« paper:

For those students who find writing a chore, blogging is a chore. Those students who wouldn’t write a journal, or a news article, or a letter, won’t write a blog. If we have to convince people to blog, to in some way grade them or mark them, then in so doing we lose what is essential to blogging.

Complete agreement. I was thinking about requiring students to blog – but I did not do it for the reason Stephen Downes points out (and I did not suggest this in my paper). I compared blogging to DJ-ing once. Not everybody wants to be a DJ – many people just like to dance.

In fact I do suggest that there need to be other ways to participate in discourse – even if you would not like to write in public (it’s in the section about »Discourse tools« in the paper). Unfortunately, I did not make clear how these concepts relate to blogging. In fact they don’t: they relate to discourse.

It’s seems to be a paradox to try to teach someone to be self-directive. I think we need to cast a set of activities that students should do to achieve learning goals. Blogging might be among that activities. But if we support student bloggers then the question would be how these relate to non-blogging students within a curricular strategy. Right now anything that fosters richer interaction, more transparency and flow of information at a high rate is better than anything we have. It would require educators to sanction behaviors that try to circumvent »thinking in the open« or to do just what seems to be required by hidden assessment rules.

If educators have to assess students performance there is no choice but to define way for assessment that requires self-reflection and negotiation. Learning contracts are another way to achieve that. The “old style” assessment strategies are result oriented (and not process oriented) and they fail for reasons I stated in the »3.1 What has changed?« section of the paper.

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