According to Rebecca Blood, the weblog (or ‘blog’ for short) is the first ‘native’ genre of the internet (follow this link if you want to see a good video of what blogging is all about). If you think about it, blogs fundamentally change the way that we read and write. They provide people with the opportunity to reach a large audience online, provide readers with the ability to respond by commenting, and make it possible to use hyperlinks to establish communities. Reading and writing becomes much more like having a conversation that anyone can be involved in.
Blogs have also been adopted in language education in a variety of ways. In his article on Abdullah’s blogging, Joel Bloch describes how his students used blogs to generate ideas for their academic writing course.
On that course, students had to consider issues related to plagiarism and post to a blog, providing some initial ideas. They sometimes responded to each others’ work, citing their classmates blog posts and evaluating them. On the blogs, they practised a kind of critical literacy which involved:
- evaluating classmates’ opinions
- stating agreement or disagreement with reasons
Ultimately the aim of using the blog was to generate sufficient ideas for an academic paper. I found this to be a very interesting use of blogs because of the way that students interacted with each other and built on each others’ ideas. The learning design here seems to me to promote blogging as an interactive, community building, knowledge construction tool. It also feeds into the aims of the academic writing course effectively. As Bloch says,
…it is clear that by becoming bloggers, they increased the amount of time they spent writing, reading, and generating ideas as well as demonstrating a variety of complex rhetorical strategies.
What do you think of this particular use of blogging? Do you have any other suggestions about how blogging can be used in language education?
Let me know your thoughts by responding in the comments below – don’t forget to read and respond to your classmates’ comments as well!