Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The value of blogs and Web2.0

If anyone is still questioning the value of blogs in education think about this. A student who participated in a math blog has, on his own initiative joined the new math class in order to mentor them. D. Kuropatwa writes about it on his blog. Blogging is a natural environment for students. From Xanga to MySpace to other social digital environments, they are used to the exchange of ideas (perhaps not on a sophisticated level - but fostering that is up to educators)

David Warlick in a recent post talks about the Web 2.0 and what he sees as the important aspects.
  1. Content is Conversation
  2. Millions of people are talking now, and they are talking in such a way (blogs, wikis, and podcasting) that the world is potentially their audience. This is important, I believe, because in a time of rapid change, the answer to brand new questions may not come from someone who got their PHD ten years ago. It may just come from something, that somebody said, yesterday.

  3. Content is organizing itself
  4. Well this is a rather melodramatic statement, meant to start a conversation about how the way that information flows is largely resulting from the behavior of its readers. Aggregators, mashups, blog linkings, and other more esoteric techniques are causing us to reshape the information environment on a global and on a personal level.

  5. People are connect to each other through their content
  6. This one has had a personal impact on me, as I have made new friends through the comments and blog-passing of people who react to my ideas. Far more important is the fact that through these exchanges, I have learned. My ideas have been challenged and they have grown, as have I.

It is this interconnectedness that I think is so powerful for students. Kuropatwa's former student saw value in connecting to the new group. Because of the asyncronous nature of blogs this was feasible. What math student can take the time to go sit in on math classes of a course he has already taken? Yet with a blog this student was able to mentor the new students.

It is essential that we help students become thoughtful contributors to the web - and equally important that we help them become thoughtful consummers of what is available.

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