There is an interesting conversation happening over at Bud the Teacher and being echoed in other places. Bud’s entry, It Takes Time…Too Much Time, Bud refers to a recent post by Clarence Fisher, where he writes:
…like with any other new tool, I wonder if we’re going through a period of consolidation? People have heard about blogs, they set up accounts for their kids and began to write. But then their interest faded, they couldn’t see progress the they expected, it required too large of a change in classroom routine, etc., etc. For whatever reason, a lot of the blogs that my kids are finding seem to be inactive.
It takes nurturing, tending, etc. The payoff, I think it’s more and more evident, can be huge.
I think it’s like any cog for the machine. It has to find its place, and it has to, in some way, help the machine to run better, more efficiently, less noisily, and with more shine. From the comments, blogging seems to cause more noise, not less.
But there is another way of looking at this. Perhaps, at this point in time, because of blogs and so much else that has happened in the last several years, it’s time to think differently about the machine. Any device, that grows only in features and “cogs”, but not in purpose, is bound to eventually explode, under the load. And ladies and gentlemen, our world is demanding that our machine, our classrooms, must change.
Specifically because of innovations such as iMovie, $300 digital video cameras, camera phones, open source audio editing software, and loads of free and inexpensive server space, the production of valuable and compelling content has fallen within the abilities of average, everyday people. It no longer takes a technical degree and tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment to produce video, nor expensive studios, musical instruments, years of mastery, and audio engineers to produce good music. It doesn’t even take the very best writing skills and lucky breaks with a publisher to write a book. I’ve written three — case in point. 😉
Traditionally, our classrooms have taught children how to consume content, how to read, watch, and listen, and learn facts and ideas to be used at a later date. Within the context of a traditional classroom, blogging, and other content production technologies have some value, because telling a story helps us to remember the story. However, a classroom, that also purposes itself with teaching students to produce compelling and valuable content will easily find a place for blogging, and other powerful communication techniques, and the cost of time, technology, and support will be well worth it.
I believe that at the same time that kids must learn to read and count, the must also learn to communicate, compellingly, with their world, within their information environment.
* Jin, James. “Video Camera.” flickr. 19 Feb. 2006. 08 Mar. 2006 <http://flickr.com/photos/jamesjin/101727209/>.