Masterclass Blogging Notes

Barbara Ganley
Speaking from her desk at 5.30 am from her classroom.
Important for educators to realize that kids are interacting and using these new technologies _ the digital natives cannot leave their digital selves out of the classroom. Those without digital access will be left behind. Quoted Dewey "...education is a social process....” Not sure they will navigate this world effectively without effective and ethical role models. Nothing wrong with stumbling and failing - invite multiple perspectives. Opportunity for a learning community to be authentic - brings her to blogs, podcasts and digital stories. Blogs don't take away from face-to-face interaction - they are not an add-on either.
Central to Barbara's classroom is the Motherblog, a gathering point of information, links and resources. Other blogs are set up for different courses but all remain open as a resource for all students. Links to outside blogs - students realize there is a connection to the outside world. Gives them access to outside experts. All students have a blog for themselves for reflection and they comment on each other's work. Think before you post - once something is posted to the web, it is hard to retract (even impossible!) The teacher can model effective feedback through the use of comments. Making of connections by using aspects of learning from other courses. Blogs invite more than just text _ images and multimedia (use of flickr and digital stories.) Podcasts are also a powerful medium to gain perspective from different cultures. There's an aspect of "letting go", learning not to micromanage student blogs. With blogging, curriculum is always expanding. There will be barriers to implementation - Servers crashing, kids not wanting to engage.

James Farmer
Founder of edublogs.org (yes!!). Looking at where we've been - he started off with Yahoo Groups which was an introduction to online learning. E-mail is limited to how a prolonged conversation can evolve. Chat rooms was the next step forward - conversations, very immediate but in depth conversations could be limited _ synchronous has disadvantages because of time differences. Next up -discussion boards (one of the oldest technology on the web) still relevant and used today _ but deeply lacking in things like ownership of comments, personal presence, particularly chaotic. Threads can be crazy to follow. A lot of LMS's still use them as a major way of communicating. Blogs are a centred form of communication and is also subversive. James then mentioned some dumb blogger from Adelaide ( a bit of red embarrassment right about now) moving right along - James doesn't think that group blogs work. Talked about the Australian version of myspace - 43 million users world wide. Where does James think it is all going? Referred to the "Community of Inquiry." Social presence - cognitive presence - teaching presence. Having a blog allows you to present yourself as a real person online, in an individual sense and group presence. Need to focus on individuals and stop setting up on online environment for people to go into and communicate in. In summary, authenticity, individual and reality, are the three points about the big advantages of blogging.

Footnote: Fixed up some confusing typos and added link to myspace. Reflection on the night coming soon - thanks to those who have commented. The power of blogs!

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3 thoughts on “Masterclass Blogging Notes

  1. twaran

    Hi Graham,
    I was at the Masterclass last night and was glad to meet you and a few other bloggers in Adelaide. I did find the talks stimulating and good on you for blogging on it on the same day. Adelaide is indeed lucky to have some exceptional, world class bloggers like you, Al and a few of whom I have not met. We Adelaide bloggers (and teachers) must form a user group, as was suggested by Karen) to explore the possibilities of using blogs (also wikis and pod cast) in education.

    What I would like to see is some good, concrete examples of how blog can be used in the classroom, as examples to teachers. I know that some good work is being done by some teachers, with their students, in the class, especially in the primary schools.

    Keep up the good work. There are many silent readers like me, who do read your blogs but never submit any comments, This is my first comment to a blog, although I have read many thousands.

  2. Mike Seyfang

    Good on you for making your first connection and joining the conversation Thangaes! I do hope you find the connectedness rewarding and I look forward to adding your blog to my subscription list!

    And Graham, excellent post, nice blog subscribed!

    Mike Seyfang

  3. Vonnie

    I was also at the Masterclass and it was good to catch up in person with some Adelaide (education) bloggers as well as meet up, via videoconference link, with respected education bloggers, Barbara Ganley and James Farmer.
    Thanks, Graham for sharing your thoughts in real time. Interesting to hear about Barabara’s concept of the “motherboard blog” communal space or portal, with an aggregation of feeds of latest posts from each member (with photo as identity).
    James took us on a journey back to the early days (e-mail and bulletin boards were pretty cool then!) in his relaxed style before enlightening us about presence (social, cognitive and teaching).
    Barbara was quite taken with James’ idea of a “culture of forgiveness” in commnicating in the blogosphere.
    The power of Skype as a medium for conversations was borne out when Graham asked a question from the audience. James could probably only see a small screen, dim view of the audience and yet was able to detect that it was Graham’s voice asking the question. “Is that you, Graham? No need for embarrassment; proves the power of social networking.

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