Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. For your privacy, I use only first names.
Here’s a great question I got from Molly:
I really enjoyed your article on students blogging. It seems like a great way to get them writing willingly since they love to be online. I was wondering, what are some of the problems you have run into and how did you solve them? What pitfalls can teachers watch out for long-term?
Three big–not necessarily ‘problems’ as much as issues to address:
Digital rights and responsibilities
You don’t want to roll out blogging in your classroom without a sturdy program educating students on digital citizenship–privacy, profiles, footprints, safety, fair use/copyrights. I have lots of information on those topics on my blog. Another good resource is Common Sense Media.
If students don’t have solid keyboarding skills, they will find blogging onerous. That’s probably the biggest impediment to having 2nd graders blog–they just don’t type well enough to let their thoughts flow freely–and blogging is all about sharing your thoughts (with evidence, collaboration, linkbacks).
From teachers who think blogging is either cutting edge (outside their skillset) or unsafe (refer back to discussion on Dig R&R). From parents who think it’s social media. Repeat both for Admin. Unless it’s already stormed the pedagogic barricades at your school, take time prior to unveiling student blogging to make sure everyone understands it.
BTW, it may take some talking and cajoling, but it’ll be worth it when students start experiencing the many varied benefits that accrue with blogging.
More on blogging in classrooms:
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of dozens of technology training books that integrate technology into education. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, a tech ed columnist for Examiner.com, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out next summer.