Blogging for the sake of blogging

Since upgrading to Moodle 1.6 I’ve been trying to find a good way to incorporate blogging into the teaching of ICT.

There are plenty of success stories out there but I’ve yet to find any that are specifically ICT-centric (as opposed to using technology to enthuse and enable the students). I’ve seen lots of student- and class-blogs relating to English (literature and language) as well as MFL which both lend themselves well to using blogging as an educational tool but I’ve found it difficult to blog for ICT’s sake.

Looking at the advice, examples and resources I’ve come across, blogging seems to be most useful for languages, and those subjects where knowledge and information is at the core of the subject. In English pupils use blogs to improve their writing skills, in MFL they use blogs to improve their vocabulary and ability to form sentences, in philosophy they use blogs to discuss and inform each other. With ICT being a more practical ‘skills based’ subject I’m finding it hard to see where to use blogging effectively.

I suspect many will consider me short-sighted, and I know several ICT teachers who hate the thought of referring to it as skills based. Of course it should be more than that, but with the introduction of online SATs at Y9, and the very heavy coursework component at KS4 it tends to be the skills (or the ability to take screenshots) that determine a pupil’s relative success.

Of course pupils and students need to understand facts, concepts and ideas relating to ICT but having to deal with those pupils who think ICT should be an excuse to play on Miniclip and Solitaire can make me happy just to reach a middle ground sometimes. That doesn’t mean I’m complacent, but experience tells me that pitching too high can be a huge disaster.

So far we’ve run through the Moodle blogging facility with most of KS3 with very limited results. The lack of a commenting facility and the already social nature of our VLE means that the blogs have turned into rants about chavs and emos, arguments about whether the Frosties Kid did, or did not hang himself (apparently not) or personal attacks. After 4 months we’ve ended up with about half a dozen reasonable blog entries, most of which were, ironically, about why the pupils in question felt they shoudn’t be forced to write blogs during lessons anyway.

I’ve created a blog with Nucleus (a CMS) for my Y12 computing class and given them a task, to find their own resources relating to the syllabus and post them for the rest of the group to share. So far I’m the only poster.

Believe me, I’ve not given up and I know the opportunities are there. I just need to keep looking, and thinking.

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