A couple of weeks ago, I added a graphical user Interface to Class Blogmeister. It came after several teachers, who were planning summer professional development, said that a word processing-style GUI would help the teachers in their workshops adjust more quickly to blogging. I can certainly understand that.
They objected because limiting students to just text, forced them to concentrate exclusively
on the words
on the writing
on the communication.
They felt that giving students access to bold, resizing, indenting, and COLORING of text would distract the students from the communication. Learners would spend more time playing with the look of their blog entries, and less time with the wording — and I think that this objection is well founded. I’ve said as much before, and it’s the main reason why I hadn’t added GUI before now — that and the fact that I’m not a good enough programmer (I found FCKeditor, an open source code set that I was able to integrate into Class Blogmesiter).
However, I wonder if, in a time of overwhelming content, the look of your blog, how the information is laid out, it’s bolding, bulletting, and even the color of the text, has become as important as the content itself. As we struggle to find and select information to accomplish our goals, we will seek out that which not only seems valuable, but also looks easy to use — efficient. So perhaps it has become important to make it easier for students to work the look of their blogs at the same time that they are working the ideas.
Certainly, they are going to get distracted and even abuse the feature, wasting time. But we have to make them accountable for their work, not only the quality of the content, but also the quality of the communication. It’s ok if students turn a line in their blog to pink, as long as they can convincingly answer they question you ask nearly every day, “Why did you use pink for that line? How did that improve the communication of your ideas?”