Sunday, January 29, 2006

Group blogs don't work in education?

Last week I managed to find the time to attend James Farmer's presentation on blogging for the TESOL evo2006 Blogging session. (You'll have to create an account at Learning Times to watch this session, but it's well-worth it)

It was a shame that there were some audio problems, but all-in-all the session was very thought-provoking, but I think it raised more questions than it answered.

James was clear and provocative in his opinions on what a edublog should be and how you should use it, and equally so on how you shouldn't use one, and what it isn't.

For me, I had a problem with his insisting that group blogs (when they are not publications, if I heard him correctly) just don't work.

I disagree and think I have been involved with and seen many group blogging projects in education that do work.

Now don't get me wrong here, I do believe that the true power of blogging, and the ideal, lies in giving the individual the freedom to express him or herself, and that the best way of doing this is to give the student a space which they own and which allows a great degree of personal freedom for them to organise it as they wish and to post about things that really interest them.

However, I'm also convinced that this ideal is not possible in all learning or teaching situations (I'll outline this thinking in a future post), especially in the field of EFL, and I really didn't like seeing James's rules been delivered as edublogging law to a group of educators that have (mainly) just started to embark on their edublogging experience. I suppose my main problem with it was that it did come across as a bit of 'blog expert bullying' rather than an opinion.

I said during the session that I thought there was a strong argument for some teachers starting off in EFL edublogging to begin with a group blog. Again, I'd like to outline why I think this in another post.
Meanwhile, I know there has been a lot of discussion about this at James Farmer's blog, and that James has also written a paper. I read this only briefly when it was published, so I think before I start writing any more about this subject, I need to read all of this...(and see if the arguments can change my mind)... be continued...

...when I find the time...between moderating the ELT Podcasting session...


  1. group blogs don't work in education? Is Farmer smoking crack or what?

  2. I think what James is saying is they don't work IN HIS EXPERIENCE. From what I've read, he's just seen too many group blogs that fizzle out. However, there are probably reasons why they do so, and it would be worth investigating what those reasons are. Ditto with the ones that DO work. Now there's a dissertation subject right there... and I'm not even charging for it!

  3. Ti make any blanket statement about whether blogs are or are not effective is problematic. It's like anything else in education. Any assignment needs to meet objectives. We also can't just see blogs as a means of helping students gain knowlege. What about the benefits of collaboration on a group blog? What about the community that might be built by group blogging? These are all benefits that may not have direct connention to knowledge but assist in the aquisition of knowledge.