Blogging in the classroom

I’ve read two posts today in support of blogging in the classroom. Yes, there have been many posts written about The first article, by Bradley Hammer a writing professor at Duke, on nj.com (via Patrick). Hammer writes:

As part of this change, technology has radically extended the spaces for academic debate. In real ways, blogging and other forms of virtual debate foster the very types of intellectual exchange, analysis and argumentative writing that universities value.

…But in my courses, students write blogs and few traditional papers. This isn’t just a gimmick to act young in an old game. They write blogs because we now live in a world where debate and publication happen predominantly in virtual spaces.

In addition to blogs, they maintain Web sites where they learn to interact with other writers beyond the isolating confines of the classroom. They defend their analyses and argue with real purpose be cause they are forced to be conscious of an audience beyond the limited scope of the instructor. Consequently, they are learning to think and write critically in ways that promote inquiry and genuine interest in writing and thinking.

Hammer goes on to talk about how this type of writing differs from the “traditional” writing currently taught in most high schools and colleges. I encourage you to read the whole article for yourself.

The second post came from Barbara Ganley from Middlebury College on her own blog.  I enjoyed reading her transcript/notes of her presentation to the faculty of Exeter Academy on the Harkness method and the 21st Century.  She did a compelling job of explaining how she made the journey in her own career from teaching as she had been taught (at Exeter) to her current use of blogs, social networks, and other online resources in her courses without losing sight of the strengths of the Harkness method.  You need to read her whole post because she does such a beautiful job but here’s a powerful quote:

The results of classroom blogging, as I will show you now, have been nothing short of astounding in my experience these past six years—this is now how my classes look and feel according to my students, who have become actively engaged with deep learning, developed their skills of critical and creative thinking and expression, their ability to connect and collaborate, and their confidence and skill using the digital technologies. It has been nothing short of electrifying. Staying the course for Harkness in the 21st century means evolving it to suit the needs and realities of our times, and to avail ourselves of the opportunities afforded by new ways of teaching and learning–online.

I really enjoy reading Barbara’s posts, in general.  But this one resonated with me because it captures the type of “good teaching” and learning that our school embraces.

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