Saturday, June 26, 2010

Blog Skillz: What Can Students Really Learn from Blogging?

What are the skills our students learn when they blog? What are the 21st century skills they need to learn -- and can gain fluency with by blogging?

These are the questions left bumping around in my head after attending a couple of sessions at Edubloggercon at ISTE 2010 this year: Jim Gates's session on "Best Practices in Student Blogging," my (and Jim Gates's) discussion group on "Building Personal Learning Networks," and Kevin Honeycutt's entertaining "Conversational Lubricants." I know they learn tagging ("higher order thinking on steroids" according to Honeycutt), and tagging is a skill that is largely absent from their regular Internet lives. They learn to assess one another's blogs by commenting -- and they can learn to comment in more meaningful ways as a result. They learn to share ideas, to engage in intellectual discourse, to collect and make sense of ideas from others. They learn to expand their notion of the world. They learn to write with words and pictures and video -- and to have a point. They learn to think "out loud."

They learn to teach.


  1. Great post. This is what blogging does for all of us!
    And I'll add...
    They learn to reflect.
    They learn to write for an authentic audience.
    They learn the value of making global connections.

  2. Excellent job of making the skills and benefits of blogging so explicit and so succinct. They are great for when some parents ask "What's the point of blogging?" as a colleague of mine has experienced recently.

  3. Henrietta Miller

    In my opinion they also learn how to write in depth and length. Many of the posts and comments my students are writing are lengthy, well thought out and detailed. Probably as a result of all the reasons mentioned above.

  4. Thanks for your comments. Yes, we need to tally all the skills that come in to play in blogging. I would also add synthesizing others' ideas and making connections (that's what links are after all).

  5. This is the very assignment I'm working on now!

    I agree that blogging could be a great tool for student learning. Instead of turning in journal entries or reflections as hard copies, this can save paper and encourage students to get peer feedback and to stay connected beyond just the classroom. It would also allow students in several sections of the same class to connect, and even allow students who aren't even in the class or the school to get a sense of what is going on in that class.

    A pitfall might be with the question of confidentiality and students who do not want their work shared. However, if we are educating students to be effective communicators in the 21st century, then this is definitely a skill they are going to need to know.

    Some teachers of a more traditional bent may dislike how blogs can be more casual or less formally structured, however, this is how people are communicating today. I know that I learn much about my fields of interest every day through checking a variety of blogs, and have made many friends across the world through blogging myself. Classrooms definitely need to incorporate technology like this, or risk being left behind.