When I first started this project, I was enthusiastic about the future of blogging as a tool for teaching and learning. My sentiments were very much aligned with these two quotes.

Imagine a world where "Every reader is a writer and every writer is a reader"
Jay Rosen (http://www.weblogg-ed.com/why_weblogs)

“To a remarkable degree, blogs also appear to bring full professors, adjuncts, and students onto a level field… You do see some of the barriers of rank and hierarchy break down..” http://chronicle.com/free/v49/i39/39a01401.htm

But like many technological development, the potential they bring is sometimes undermined by misuse. Just today I received a notice of an article in the Chicago Tribute filled with example of student and teacher use of blogs that leave school officials struggling to resolve 21st century ethical dilemmas.

School officials tread carefully when dealing with bloggers
Recent incidents in the Chicago school system illustrate that teachers and students who include objectionable material in personal blogs, even when written off-campus, may be sanctioned if others' privacy rights or personal security are at stake. Administrators' disciplinary decisions often boil down to the specificity of the posted material. Chicago Tribune (free registration) (12/9)

Tempted to succumb to the philosophy that “Adopting blogs as a tool for teaching and learning is not worth the professional liability of being associated with “dangerous and unsavory” activities, I, instead, have concluded that the very reason that some might “stay away” is the one of the main reason that blogs should become part of our teaching and learning environment.

First of all, this project helped to realize that there is a difference between a) using blogging tools b) the verb “blogging”. Blogging tools can become a teacher productivity tools, whether it be to post homework assignments for students to access, or produce an online newsletter for increased communication between homes and schools.

However, the increase and impact of blogging on our culture has made it more challenging to use blogging tools (which are really ‘easy web content publishing tools) without being associated with the blogging culture (which in an of itself has some negative associations for educators).

Therefore the introduction of blog tools for web content publishing and/or blogging (the verb) should only be entered after a process of education, reflection, and consideration about the outcome you want from using these tools, and the parameters that help you achieve those outcomes without inadvertently stumbling into a risky situations (whether real or perceived).

The dialogues and surveys demonstrated that most participants adopted the sentiment that blogging and blog tools had a real value in the world of education. However, all parties acknowledged that awareness of risks was a key element of any educational activity that involved blog tools and blogging. This awareness should be formalized and parameters for using the tools as intended are important elements moving ahead with the any blog related projects.

The fact that there are safety concerns in a culture of emerging technology, is part of the justification for actually including blog related projects in education. Avoiding blogs not only has the impact of missed opportunity to use technological advancement for teaching and learning, but it may actually increase risks for our students by missing the opportunity to educate young people about social, ethical, and legal issues related to technological advancement.

However, if the decision to use blog tools or blogs are part of teaching and learning is not entered carefully, with training, reflection, and agreed-upon parameters, the outcomes might lead to undesirable results. This project provided the opportunity to design such a process and the tools to implement it. It also provided a chance to test this process, and share results with colleagues and peers. I strongly encourage that those considering the use of blogs in their educational environment follow a process such as the one designed and dicussed in this action research project to increase awareness of blogging and blog tools”, set up safety parameters (for students, teachers, and the school), then proceed to engage in blog activities that support your teaching and learning for the 21st century.

I was wondering how this experiment (AR) has any value considering there are no comments?
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