I was re-reading Will Richardson’s book “Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms” today because I am giving my copy to a new techie teacher. Even though I am already familiar with the topic I still found the information interesting and relevant. This time through the names from the examples were familiar from bloggers like Tim Lauer, Darren Kuropatwa and Bud the Teacher. Wow – what a difference a year of blogging makes!
Will discusses the pedagogy of blogging. He writes that “weblogs are truly a constructivist tool for learning”. Student’s construct their own knowledge through reading, writing and responding to one another’s posts. This type of “connective writing” engages students in higher-order thinking. Students are first reading critically and looking for important ideas to share with their audience. Opportunities to make connections and synthesize ideas from other bloggers demands organization and clarity in student’s own posts. The “real audience” reminds students to observe editorial correctness and to continue the discussion beyond the post and interact with users who make comments.
In discussing wikis, Will notes that “the collaborate environment that wikis faciliate can teach students much about how to work with others, how to create community, and how to operate in a world where the creation of knowledge and information is more and more becoming a group effort”. Like blogs, empowering students by allowing them to create and edit and construct their own knowledge is very compelling and will lead to student engagement.
Besides blogs, wikis and podcasting, Will discusses other Web 2.0 tools like RSS, social bookmarking, flickr and what it all means. If you are looking for a simple explanation of how to go about integrating Web 2.0 tools in your classroom I highly recommend this simple book – plus – when you get it down pat – you can pass it on to another educator!!!
Sidebar: I am getting ready to set up blogs for my classes this school year and am debating which format I am going to use. I use Moodle for my CMS and like the journal module for students to write directly to me but I don’t care for the blog feature. I was just going to use Blogger since we will already be using gmail accounts and Google docs but now am considering 21 classes (mainly for privacy reasons and the having a main entry page). I am seeking input from other teachers who have used it. I like the fact that the students can customize their pages – which will be critical for my graphic design students. Any comments???