Saturday, June 26, 2004

Blogs and Wikis as Webquest Tasks

At NECC 2004, there is an entry on Bernie Dodge's presentation about the evolution of webquests.

It seems that one of the criticisms levelled at webquests is that they should be more interactive. Bernie himself has his students write blogs. He says he gets to know them better that way. There is more about his presentation here, hinting at how to integrate blogs and wikis into webquests.

Blogs and Wiki: WikiAndBlog

Blogs and Wiki: WikiAndBlog

Here's a succinct post about the difference between blogs and wikis.

EFL summer school

ateacher has started a reflective blog at EFL summer school to comment "on classes at a summer school for young learners studying English in July 2004"

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Do-It-Yourself Broadcasting: Writing Weblogs in a Knowledge Society

Colin Lankshear and Michele Knobel have an interesting article about blogging and education, which was presented at a confference in Chicago, 2003, entitled: Do-It-Yourself Broadcasting: Writing Weblogs in a Knowledge Society

In it, they outline a taxonomy of blogs, talk about the relationship between blogs and power, and mention the potential for blogs to become platforms for powerful writing if the author is encouraged to focus upon his/her point of view and identity.

On the subject of school blogs, the authors are highly critical:

"Many student posts to school-endorsed blogs look like being compulsory requirements and linked to student grades for the course. The lively humour and wit of blogger posts elsewhere and the written comments they often attract from readers are missing—few school blogs even have the “comments” function enabled. The quality of writing posted to school blogs varies from the “why bother” to lists of items pertaining to a subject area topic or theme being studied in class, through to essayist texts. There is little evidence of idea development."

As I was reading this, it reminded me of an example where this was completely the opposite, and the reason why I originally became interested in using weblogs with students, through Bee's weblog. The student entries here were personal and came from a desire by the students to communicate. This was so different from the experience found by the authors of this article:

"Some students in this same class have created personal weblogs, but these are uniformly underdeveloped and none of them indicates any evidence of significant personal investment."

Since then (almost a year ago), I have also tried to involve students in blogging with limited success. I recognise that I have resorted to the obligatory (homework and assignment) blog entry that the authors of this article refer to, although I have seen examples of writing which would have been difficult to obtain if I'd asked for traditional assignments. I recognise too, however, that there is a fine line between encouraging students to write in a weblog, and forcing them, when setting assignments.

During the end of one blogging experiment (, I gave students the choice of using the weblog for their assignments , or giving them to me hand-written or typed. Some students continued with the blog, but a lot of them preferred to hand me their work. It was as if they did not trust the technology.

During the last computer class, I asked these students to answer some questions about the blogging experience, and their replies can be found on their student blogs. I haven't had time to compile and analyse the results, but when I do, I'll publish them here.

The authors of the article mention hat it is not their intention simply to criticise the school blogs, but simply draw attention to the fact that although a lot of these are "earnest attempts to meld new technology use, student interest and school work", they "risk killing the medium by reducing its potential scope and vitality to menial school tasks in which students seemingly lack any genuine purpose."

Finally, the article includes a link to the authors' blog they keep for their students, called everyday literacies .

O'Reilly Network: My Blog, My Outboard Brain [May. 31, 2002]

This article by Cory Doctorow discusses blogging as an evolution of bookmarking, which is a link I'd never made before.

As Cory says, "I used to bookmark this stuff, but I just ended up with a million bookmarks that I never revisited and could never find anything in."

Mandarin Design. Web and Blog Design and Development

I've mentioned this site before, but it's well worth listing again. Mandarin Designspecialises in "Web and Blog Design and Development" and has easy tutorials for weblog oweners who are looking to add something special. It could even be used with students with blogs if you have a group interested in playing with the design.

VHS ::: ICT VOEV Seminar 03

Inge Anna Koleff of Austria has compiled a list of Weblogs or Blogs and related tools and articles as part of a seminar.

Young Learners : difference in attitude between technology use in and outside of school

Planning pedagogy for i-mode:

"It is often observed that a wide and widening gulf exists between the forms of literacy students engage in within school settings, and the manner in which they engage in them, and those they encounter in their worlds beyond school."

In their article based on a conference presentation in Melbourne last year, Colin Lankshear and Michele Knobel discuss the hows and whys of the above.mentioned statement, and what uses today's teenagers use the emerging technologies for.

Amongst other things, they examine why in their experience emailing (which is so popular with teenagers outside of school) proved to be unpopular when used in school context.

The article also discusses weblogs, and divides them into four types based on use:

1. Weblogs which are used to link to other sites and which include commentary.
2. Journal weblogs
3. Hybrids (journals, which also include links with commentary)
4. Meta weblogs (such as blog-efl) which are weblogs about weblogs.

The authors also divide these into sub-categories. For example, the sub-categories of #1 are:

b) new filters
d) community blogs

Saturday, June 12, 2004


Wink is a great freeware Tutorial and Presentation tool that could be used to create an online tutorial on how to blog (I suppose I'll have to put this on my 'to do list' now)

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Wikiversity - Wikibooks

Wikiversity - "a free, open learning environment and community. You can find online courses about many different topics here, and create courses of your own."

BBC - collective - community

The BBC - collective - community, which acts as a space for "exchanging views on new music,film and culture" now has a weblog service for members. It's a basic tool, but it shows just how blogs are becoming more and more part of standard websites.


The ColorMatch Remix is a great tool for trying out variations of colour for any weblog template redesign.

Thanks to Cyberdash for this link

How the Blog can change English Language Teaching

Thanks also to anne for the link to this article: The Fourth International Symposium on ELT in China: Theoretical and Practical Applications of Emergent Technology in ELT Classrooms; How the Blog Can Change English Language Teaching

There's some good advice here, such as:

"The first step for teachers is to try out blogging for themselves. In this scenario, teachers cannot expect their students to do something that they are not willing to do themselves. Each teacher will have his or her own reasons for starting a blog. These reasons must be clear or the blog will not serve the learner’s language development. The blogs can be as general as a journal of daily thoughts, or be more specific in nature. The teacher should prepare beforehand, an activity that will be a catalyst for the language learner’s needs. "

Blog Guidelines for student participation

Thnaks to Anne Davis at EduBlog Insights: for this link to an article in The Daily Northwestern and the blog, which student government leaders are using to encourage students to participate more.

They have a set of Blog guidelines which state:

"Please respect these guidelines. If they are disregarded, we may have to require you to log in to post comments.

1. No personal attacks. Criticise the people's work, attitude, ideas, platforms, the organization, committies etc, but don't use personal insults."


Wikibooks: is a project whose aim is to develop "free, open content textbooks, manuals and other texts." They "currently have over 80 textbooks in various stages of development, of which every page is open to your revision and addition."