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.
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!