November 09, 2005

Blogs and Podcasts: The Learner is the Resource

The recent lack of blog posts is testament to two things: 1. I have been working pretty hard, away from home and away from internet connections; 2. I have been struggling to work out where I am with things. But after two very successful conferences in London and Stirling I feel I should take some time out to run over what I've been saying offline.

Introducing Blogging and Podcasting to a teacher audience
Teachers are a time-poor user group, and as such don't take to things that require more than 5 minutes of their time. Thank goodness blogging can be explained, in a technical sense at least, very quickly. First I needed to point out the fateful error that many a teacher has made in the past, an error in comprehension which has led Local Authority heads not to trust the openness of the blog. A blog is not a journal, it is not a place to "get things off your chest", nor a place to open up your heart - at least, it's not in educational blogging. Will et al have been pointing this out best they can.

My second point is that it's not about the tech, but it's about the teach. Most teachers, when faced with new technological help in the classroom, see it as a hindrance. "I don't have a laptop", "the Internet's always down", "we have one projector between us all as a school resource". Yes, life sucks and I do sympathise (empathise, in fact: at MGS I had to fight for my projector and used my own laptop for three years). But blogging and podcasting can be done using technology not normally found anywhere near the school. It's the students' technology, namely mobile phones and MP3 players as well as their super duper home computers that we can use to bolster the classroom tech.

As Jamie and Claire, two of my students, explain in a small video clip that we made in Frankfurt airport, you can use Word to type up a blog report in the pre-check-in cafe, with the free internet beyond security being used to upload it. Talk about narrowing the digital divide: who needs business class lounges?

After explaining that blogging is simply 3 steps of:
1. Write a post
2. Wait for comments (educators may have to get schools/partners/classmates to read and comment because of the shorter timescales than regular bloggers)
3. Respond with agreement, disagreements, attacks - whatever the student wants as long as (s)he can justify their opinion with a deep link - a link to the page that backs them up.

But why blog?
Students can keep learnings logs on what they have learnt, what they woudl like to learn and what they think they have learnt, provided they know the teacher and a wide audience is reading it.

I've written about 20,000 words on why students should blog, but the main aspect is audience.

Imagine the scene:
"We're going to write a small essay about our town and then we'll get a speaking assessment out of it, too. Now, do it well - because 10,000-odd people will hear it and around 7000 people will read your work."

That's what I've told some of my classes. You should have seen their work...

More from the seminar later.

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I've written about 20,000 words on why students should blog, but the main aspect is audience.. Not sure there is much more to say. (welcome back to the Scottish Education Blogoshere) [Read More]

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is a teacher, speaker and investor, regarded as one of Europe’s foremost experts in digital media for public services.

His company, NoTosh Limited, invests in tech startups and film on behalf of public and private investors, works with those companies to build their creative businesses, and takes the lessons learnt from the way these people work back into schools and universities across the world.

Ewan’s education keynotes & MasterClasses

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Do you worry that your school or district could better harness its people, digital technology or physical space? Do you want some actionable inspiration, a mentor for a learning journey with your staff?

In a keynote or masterclass we can give them concrete ideas based on experience, enthusiasm fired by a vision of what can be, and backup before and after to make it happen for them.

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