In this booming technological era, it is quite easy to become engrossed with the wide selection of technology at our fingertips. Now, note that simply because a technological implement can be introduced in a class, does not necessarily mean that it should. Educators—especially novice educators—should exercise caution when planning technological units. It is imperative that the use of technology positively supplements instruction, and does not act as a convenient substitute.
Blogs can be utilized as a learning community which students can access in and out of school. Furthermore, the interactions that occur between students in these communities can assist students in appropriating an adequate base of knowledge. Additionally, through the technology medium, feedback and commentary can be given instantly. However, instructors must ensure that ground rules are laid for civil behavior in these digital environments. It is easy for students to act in facetious manners and to bring up off-topic discussion.
Students can use blogs to create a historical figure relevant to the unit's subject matter in order to interact with other students' historical figure blogs. The interactions can be graded on content depth and historical accuracy. This task enables students to interact in a fun, engaging environment where thinking outside of the box is encouraged. From the ESL (9-12) Learning Standards and Performance Indicators, Standard 2.9 indicates that students should "[e]ngage in collaborative activities through a variety of student groupings to create and respond to literature."
Another use of blogs can be to compile recent developments in the discipline. Students can cite recent news articles and discuss the implications of the advancement. By discussing the current issues on the blog and with other students, the possibilities for learning are greatly amplified. Furthermore, students can argue positions on polarizing issues and learn to justify their beliefs effectively. Standard 3.1 points out that it is critical for students to "[d]evelop and present clear interpretations, analyses, and evaluations of issues, ideas, texts, and experiences; justify and explain the rationale for positions, using persuasive language, tone, evidence, and well-developed arguments." In addition, Standard 3.3 indicates that students should be able to "[r]ecognize and communicate personal and multiple points of view within and among groups, in discussing, interpreting, and evaluating information; make inferences about a writer’s or speaker’s point of view." Often times, students might disagree with one another regarding certain issues. As long as the discussion is kept civil, the students can utilize one another to further investigate the issue and re-evaluate their own beliefs.
Blogs open an entire world of possibilities to the classroom. As teachers, it is our duty to conscientiously implement lessons that prove to be engaging and effective for students.