The revenue of blogging investment

Will Richardson of has collected the most recent posts from different locations about the “weblog in education” discussion:

A number of threads about the value of blogging in the classroom have been floating here and there lately, many of them here. For context, some of the more relevant posts are

Stephen Downes adds to this:

You’ll find the bouncing back and forth between posts from four separate bloggers (Smith, Richardson, Fiedler, Farmer) frustrating, but the question is vital: where is the locus of the blogging phenomenon? In the students? Or in their instructors?

Will Richardson re-instantiates a well-known argument:

By its very nature, assigned blogging in schools cannot be blogging. It’s contrived. No matter how much we want to spout off about the wonders of audience and readership, students who are asked to blog are blogging for an audience of one, the teacher.

and he continues to compare my posting with Sebastian Fiedlers. I am arguing that there is a performance assessment game in place that obscures the situation a little bit. Sebastian asks us to reconsider the change that has taken place already for many of us who learn with weblogs.

Will has a lot of very good observations that further solidify the idea pro weblogs in education. Ken Smith answers less systematic but draws an image of a “summerhill space” where weblogs can be valuable activities even outside performance goals. Stephen Downes announces a reply he himself summarizes with “two things will kill blogs: a) forcing people to write and b) telling them they can’t write”.

I want to comment on all this good thinking. I can’t comment on the K-12 questions Will raised, because the objectives and processes from a didactical standpoint are completely different. We should no mix these discussions.

So from all I can see is that students are willing to learn and invest whatever they can – but they are helpless about which “school of thought” would offer them them the best education: the “empirical learning-by-doing” path or the more “visionary re-invent yourself” path (I don’t even want to mention the monkey-see-monkey-do path that is still alive in so many programs — of course there are different learners and learning styles, but this plays a role on a much deeper level).

The weblogs in education discourse is happening a lot in context of the “re-invent yourself” party of educators (although the offer blogging as a kind of “doing” –like in learning-by-doing– but the educational story is one about self-definition through authorship.

I think even that is something students would buy into. But what is very open, is the question to what amount authorship for the definition of self is required. I other words what is the revenue of an investment into blogging for students? The problem is that there is no direct revenue – and sometimes there may be none at all. The whole blogging point seems just be too time consuming and “webbish” to keep attention to it. Like Stephen Downes said: there would also be no point in requiring him to practice field goals.

There is still some things to decide upon for me. But currently I am thinking about how to blend the weblogging activity with the campus environment more. I want to plant this tiny local blogsphere into the real spaces. The whole idea of the blogging for me was to nurture discourse among students and researchers. And that will going to happen sooner or later – this way or the other.






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