Lots of angst flying around the edublogosphere lately about the efficacy of teaching with blogs, and their place in education. From Will Richardson yesterday on Weblogg-ed:

In terms of education, while there are certainly more people who are starting to consider these changes and their implications, the fact is there haven’t been many inroads into serious change in the classroom. Yes, there are more and more examples of teachers and students using these tools in their practice, but the numbers of examples of students on the K-12 level whose learning is being transformed by these technologies is amazingly small, at least to me. I mean really, where are the examples of students blogging…and I mean blogging, not just using blogs…and building global networks of learners? There are some, yes, but not enough to make the case that these tools can work in the current school environment.

Then Christian from Think:Lab jumps in with a response:

Forget teaching kids to blog for the sake of blogging, or to simply talk about The Lord of the Flies or algorithms via blogging when nothing really changes in terms of the learning experience other than its a ‘new tool’.  I suppose that its more enlightened than yet another book report on loose leaf paper or a quickly scribbled hand-written poster showing cosine curves.  But does anything in the learning process really change?

Instead, get kids to begin to define their stake in the world, to take a simple premise and expand on it in a much more passionate, nuanced, and frankly savvy manner. And to do so because they are developing an audience, a presence, and a brand.  Do this, and Will will have countless examples.  Otherwise, tomorrow’s ‘blogging assignment’ is merely yesterday’s boorish ‘PowerPoint presentation’ that we all know is hardly the definition of ‘learning’ via multi-media technology.

Right on. He’s on to something with this notion of developing an audience and a presence. The purists among my colleagues would cringe to hear the evil "brand" reference with its corporate-speak connotation tagging along at the end of that series, but as shorthand, it has merit. Aren’t we really talking about online portfolios here? Yes and no. Yes, in that a blog will arguably be an increasingly important part of Every Child’s Portfolio. . . and doesn’t a portfolio aim to cast a direct line between its creator and the authentic world? And no, in that a blog literally speaks—using an entirely new, flexible, fluxible, and idiosyncratic vernacular—while the electronic portfolio, at least as mainstream education has envisioned it so far, still resides firmly in the staid world of formal written work.

Christian has an earlier post about this, profiling a young blogger who’s a near-perfect case study of how to go about building a personal brand. Yuvi is a precocious fifteen-year-old student from India who describes himself as a "wannabe geek." Based on the fifteen minutes of Scobleized fame that follows, it’s clear he’s well on his way.