I mentioned in my previous post that I was surprised at the unexpected lengthy pieces of writing on the children’s Glow blogs and wikis. I’ve been using the same strategy that I adopted previously when I carried out a case study for my Chartered Teacher studies – my dissertation has the details, and I’ve had a closer look to see if I can come up with a formula (I’ve looked at some of the professional reading that helped to convey my thoughts at the time).
Three ingredients jump out:
1. Content – The freedom to choose
- Lafferty (2004): “To develop an online community requires a more student-centred approach with the tutor transforming into a facilitator from ’sage on the stage’ to ‘guide on the side.”
- Marsh (2007) proposed that by enabling children to create blogs based on their own interest, valuable learning opportunities might be developed
- Buckingham (2008) argues that through using the new media, young people are learning primarily by means of discovery, experimentation, and play, rather than by following external instructions and directions
- Stern (2007) also found that in the absence of audible or visual cues, young people often feel less inhibited, a sensation heightened by the experience of crafting messages in front of a computer screen, frequently in the privacy of their own room or other personal space. She claims that authors possess more control over the impressions they give than they do in offline spaces, since they make all the decisions about what to reveal, omit, embellish, or underplay.
- Wenger states that the school is not the privileged locus of learning. It is not a self-contained, closed world in which students acquire knowledge to be applied outside, but a part of a broader learning system. The class is not the primary learning event. It is life itself that is the main learning event.
2. Comments – Creating a sense of audience
- Stern (2007) argues that the main audience for their blogs was the authors themselves and that they were self reflecting as they tested out different versions of their current and possible identities. She also maintains, however, that they were continually testing out other audiences too, and that they were hungry for peer approval
- Davis and merchant (2006) believe that the perception of an actual or imagined audience prompts us to think about what we wish to show ……… an audience to whom one is presenting a particular narrative of the self
3. Sharing – New posts shared offline (in class), tends to influence other – sometimes typically reluctant – writers to add posts to their own blogs .
- Godwin-Jones (2003) explains that blogs and wikis offer powerful opportunities for online collaboration for learners. He states that the encouragement of peer to peer networking and buddy learning is central to a constructivist learning approach,
- Dissertation quote – Sharing the stories that the children wrote on their wikis provided ideal opportunities for formal learning to occur. The stories were written at home, usually in instalments. It is clear that the children often went home and improved parts of their stories after having heard them read aloud in class.
- Owen et al, 2006 believe that there is significant potential for the development of new approaches to education. There are changes in our understanding of practices of creativity and innovation – from the idea of the isolated individual ‘genius’ to the concept of ‘communities of practice’, where reflection and feedback are important collaborative processes.
But there’s a fourth ingredient that came in to play during the case study period and that was the importance of ‘Role Models’. At the time I was interested in gender differences and I noted that my class were very aware that some of the The AllStars girl bloggers seemed very skilled writers. This encouraged the girls in my own class to improve the quality and quantity of their posts. The boys, on the other hand, had no such role models. The AllStars teacher Kim P contacted me at the time because she was aware of the same gender differences:
- “Girls seem more word oriented evidenced by their blogging stories, commentaries etc; whereas boys tend to prefer visual (and less text oriented) ways of expressing themselves. Maybe boys prefer to talk and show how to use an application, rather than using application for personal reasons.”
This time around the gender balance has changed, though. It’s the boys who tend to write more on their blogs and wikis – and the Role Models are in our own class 🙂
- Andrew enjoys writing blog posts. His wiki story is looking fantastic, too.
- Kian started this story as a blog post and it’s now 6000 words long. He’s been continuing it on a Word document and it’s being saved on a memory stick until it’s finished (we’ve had a lot of discussions about copyright and I suspect he’s protecting the idea until it’s published).
- Jack has been writing a hilarious story on his wiki. It shocked me at first, but I can’t wait to read more. What do you think? Jack’s Story
Now more reluctant writers are beginning to add lengthy posts. Four stand out for me:
- Sean wrote a great account of his first experience at a football match. I don’t think he’d have been this inspired in class. It’s here
- I’m impressed that Ryan was motivated to write this post in his own time.
- Dylan’s post made me smile and I want to know more about his knowledge of Falkirk Bus Routes.
- Lewis is very proud of his post about his holiday to Aviemore
More to follow about the girls’ writing 🙂