Blogging can make a significant difference to children’s learning in a number of ways. Primarily, blogging provides an easy to use way to get children to apply ICT skills through a format that will be familiar to those with an existing Internet connection, and experience of social networking.
Moreover, as a teaching and learning tool, blogging creates multiple opportunities for feedback, lesson planning and extra features to target differentiated and more creative learning. Finally, blogging can broaden the scope of children’s learning, while making them aware of the safety issues involved in online work. These benefits are expanded upon below:
Ease of Use
A blog that uses a template like WordPress or Blogger is easy to set up, and can be administered centrally to a number of different students. When combined with a Virtual Learning Environment like Moodle, students can be shown how to use a site, and different levels of access can be set up to allow for blog posts and entries to chat rooms and comments sections. Easy to use formats are, in turn, familiar to students that already use sites like Facebook to upload and share information, even from a young age.
Teaching and Learning Tools
A blog can comprise of a number of regular posts that provide lesson breakdowns, as well as extra questions and homework assignments. Future events can also be listed on a blog, as can useful links. In this way, a blog that is combined with a VLE can be set up to use an instant messaging system, as well as the opportunity to ask teachers questions on work. Projects that involve students writing blog posts, in the form of stories, descriptions of holidays and school trips, and descriptions of activities, can similarly boost reading and writing skills in an ICT setting.
Blogs also encourage creative and independent learning. Blogs can be used as the tool for uploading information on group projects, and to share projects with a wider audience. Independent learning can also be enhanced through access to additional resources for homework, as well as for gaining feedback on existing work. When used at home, students should be able to feel that they have an interface that they can rely on for support.
A blog can have a broader role in terms of the pastoral care and community engagement of a school. Events at a school can be listed and publicised online, while a blog can be used to communicate with other local and international schools. The opportunity to upload videos and images to school blogs also means that students can feel comfortable in using online resources for documenting their lessons and activities.
Regular use of a school blog also aids children’s learning by teaching them about cyber safety. Encrypted passwords and logins can be used to make sure that the site is secure, and lessons can be given over the importance of protecting this information, as well as what is appropriate in terms of making comments on other people’s work, and how they should be careful about using different web sites when at home.
Rob James is a primary school teacher working in conjunction with GSL Education. He can be found blogging about ways in which we can improve education in Britain.
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