While blogs are a tremendous opportunity for your students to learn in the 21st Century classroom, a teacher should not jump into the process without a few considerations. First, take it slow and teach your students how to blog properly. Don’t expect students to know how to do this just because they live in the digital world. They may not have an understanding of how to complete an educational blog. Show them an example and consider having students read a few other educational blogs, (Rhode, 2009). You may want to teach guidelines in blogging by having students complete a blog about it, (Kline, 2013). One should also teach very early in the process how students will interact with each other on the blog, (Rhode, 2009). This applies to two different facets of blogging. Students must understand how to treat each other’s comments and ideas with respect, just like in the classroom. But the blog is also nothing without higher-level conversation between the students, not just many individual comments to a teacher-prompted question.
In order to keep this blog as safe as your classroom, carefully choose the blogging site. Your best bet will be a site that allows the teacher to read comments before they are posted. You may even consider choosing a site that requires student log-ins, in order to prevent unwanted outsiders to join the “classroom” conversation. Be aware of any district and/or school policies in regards to online learning and implement any student blogging contracts, if necessary. Parents can also be given access to assure them of student safety, but balance this carefully in order to prevent losing student authenticity. If you as the teacher keep control over the situation and carefully teach the process to your students in the beginning, you will find success in a controlled chaos, just like the classroom.
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The 21st Century classroom is more than simply addressing what education is today. It is attempting to make education what it should be in 2015, rather than continuing the learning practices that we know from the 20th Century. It is literally pointing out, “Hey, it’s not 1998 anymore!” As educators, we owe our students the opportunity to learn in the true 21st Century.
The Connected Classroom’s article (http://theconnectedclassroom.wikispaces.com/Classroom) also points out that 21st Century learning is “much more than just having good technology skills. It is learning core subjects with application of these learning skills and communication tools.” This type of learning is student-centered, which is what we have always wanted as teachers, but have always struggled with truly implementing. A great tool for creating this student-based, collaborative learning is blogging. The reason blogs have been so popular over the years has been their relative ease in giving anyone a platform to speak their ideas and allow others to join the conversation. This opportunity is just as relevant in the classroom where we want all of our students to speak their mind and have deep conversations. With a blog, teachers can put the conversation completely in the students’ hands and allow all of the wait-time needed for students to construct and deliver their opinion. As teachers, we can simply watch and “listen” to the direction the students take the conversation about the content that they forgot we asked them to learn.
A few other articles about 21st Century classrooms —