Blogging with Secondary students in Singapore – ICTLT presentation
Earlier today I was at a presentation by Nick Potts, from the British Council Singapore, on the lessons he’s learned from two years of using blogs with lower secondary students in Singapore. He gave an account of all the problems, lessons learned and he also shared strategies he’s worked out to overcome these challenges.
His main point was that these students tend to view (and use) blogs as a means to vent their feelings. He showed us how this manifested in free-form rants, which were far from the aims of his lessons. He confirmed this by showing us the results of survey he asked some students to complete last week.
He was quick to admit that his first attempt at using blogs with these students at integrating blogs into his classes resulted in work that (at best) lacked focus, and (at worst) had these teenagers revealing things about themselves that he was concerned might expose them to risk if the blogs had been in a public space on the web. His blogs were all closed to public access – he chose to use 21 Classes to help address these concerns by keeping the blogs closed and viewable only by his class.
His strategy for dealing with the challenge included setting clearly focused writing tasks, not calling the blog a ‘blog’ in class (instead refering to it as a portal) and starting the blog with very positive and simple writing activities.
One teacher in the audience asked if Nick had used this blogging exercise to explore issues of cyber-wellness and safe practices for minors online. Nick pointed out that he only saw them for two hours a week, so he didn’t have time to explore these issues with his class, although if he had time he would have liked to. It seemed to me that he had already helped his students toward managing these risks by getting them to apply better strategies for writing online than those they’d resorted to before.
Here’s Nick’s presentation: