Will Richardson’s post "The Next Generation of Teachers" inspired a cascade of comments. For Dean Shareski at Ideas and Thoughts, this outpouring is a good reminder:

Comments may be the most underrated component of a blog. For me, they
breathe life into most posts and add the texture and indeed make them
conversational.

I’m starting to see what he means. The more I read, the more I’m drawn to the comments—to see if any incendiary blazes have been sparked, to see if someone is offering a novel slant to the original idea, to see if anything has happened. Comments are the low murmur of humanity thrumming beneath the public face of the blog. And like any other form of discourse, the commenting voices run the gamut from banal to eloquent. You’ve met them: the Friendly Neighbor, the Admirer, the Advisor, the Empathizer, the Questioner, the Skeptic, and the Critic. But it’s relatively rare that a post inspires the kind of nuanced, well-developed conversation that advances our understanding of a topic. Another dandy example is Karl Fisch’s post from earlier this month, "What Would Shakespeare Think?," and accompanying unruly garden of comments. Best of all, in both Karl’s and Will’s cases, students are right there in the mix. Thanks, Dean, for pointing out the secret life of blogs.

Paying attention to readers’ comments—and the varying levels of understanding and engagement they seem to evidence—leads me to wonder how they’d look through a Bloom’s Taxonomy lens. If comments are a kind of mini-reader-response essay, what do they indicate about the cognitive skills brought to the task by the commenter? Some comments may be at the Knowledge or Understanding level; some may address Application or Analysis; some may get up into the rarefied air of Synthesis or Evaluation. Right? Well, something like that, but maybe not so simple. People being the complex creatures they are, they tend to be hard to pin down; so a single comment may operate on many levels of Bloom’s. And there’s more. Jeff Utecht at The Thinking Stick posted an insightful update back in January: the American Psychological Association has posted a revised version of Bloom’s Taxonomy [from Anderson, L.W., & Krathwohl, D.R. (Eds.) (2001)]to reflect the 21st century learner. The new Bloom’s goes a little something like this:

6. Create
5. Evaluate
4. Analyze
3. Apply
2. Understand
1. Remember

Note the change at the highest level from "evaluate" to "create." That’s right in line with the new Creativity and Innovation category in ISTE’s NETS*S refresh standards, currently in draft form. And be sure to check out the Cognitive Taxonomy Circle. 

Since this ramble is all about dialogue in a Web 2.0 context, we really should make the leap from taxonomy to folksonomy. Far be it from me to question the expertise of the good people at the APA, but I do wonder what a Bloom’s Folksonomy would look like. More properly, it would be called a Folksonomy of Educational Objectives. Instead of Bloom’s authoritative definitions, we’d have the collective wisdom of crowds of user-defined tags. How would it work? Like Digg, except that instead of assessing quality in terms of popularity, users would assess skills, activities, and learning products? Or collectively rewrite the definitions?

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