Another field dispatch from the Juxtapose This! department:
The latest edition of Education Week has a story on school leaders’ blogs—mentions include Kim Moritz, Scott McLeod, Will Richardson, Jan Borelli, and others. But, in EdWeek as in life, sometimes the more compelling message is in the margins. The story’s sidebar contains a heading called "Web Resources;" under that heading are two items:
- Further resources and information on the educational benefits of blogging
are available at Weblogg-ed, a site
dedicated to discussions about the use of technology in K-12 schools.
- The paper "The
Educated Blogger: Using Weblogs to Promote Literacy in the Classroom," by
David Huffaker, is posted by First Monday, a
peer-reviewed online journal.
It’s interesting that EdWeek is pointing readers to Weblogg-ed as the ur-resource on the benefits of blogging just as Will is seriously questioning whether the infinite educational promise of Web 2.0 will ever be realized:
I’ve been out on my own for almost a year now, doing presentations and
workshops almost non-stop, and while there are many, many teachers out
there who communicate a real interest in re-envisioning their practice,
on the whole, there’s little I’m seeing that suggests that any real
systemic change or rethinking of the education model is occurring. We
are just so stuck in the system of control.
It’s tempting to call this an ironic case, but it’s not. Will, as always, is using his own blogging to model thoughtful reflection and learning. His transparency and self-questioning go a long way toward demonstrating the "educational benefits of blogging." Perhaps not what EdWeek had in mind. Maybe better.
The second item is David Huffaker’s paper, which provides an overview of blogging’s implications for teaching and learning. His circa-2004 commentary is useful, but it feels like old news from a 2007 perspective. I found myself reading with impatience; we’ve already covered this ground. The paper even references how Will is using blogs in his classroom—or was in 2004:
Will Richardson’s weblogg–ed.com collects information and dialogue on
implementing weblogs in the classroom. Richardson, a teacher at Hunterdon
Central Regional High School in New Jersey, uses blogs for both a journalism
class and a literature class.
Since Will has been out of the classroom for a year, speaking, writing, and consulting, EdWeek’s choice to cite Huffaker here is enough to give one pause. Time for a relevance gut-check. If nothing else, this serves to reinforce Will’s assertion that our current systems are resistant to change—"We are just so stuck in the system of control"—-and highlights that the message is going out to two different audiences in very different ways. There’s an edublogosphere teeming with enthusiasts, evangelizers, integrators, and adopters who get it-–and then there’s everybody else. Right? Right? Clay Burell takes on the mantle of skepticism with an as-usual intelligent, fearless, and wonderfully dyspeptic criticism of the edublogosphere "echo chamber" syndrome:
There’s something of the Caste System in the edublogospyramid that says
"Vanity, vanity, all is vanity" to me as well. Have you noticed how the
admin edubloggers seem to sequester themselves in the admin
edublogosphere, while the EdTech bloggers echo in their level, and
rarely pipe in with actual teachers? Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s my
impression. And it’s not surprising: institutional habits die hard, and
transplant easy. It’s not much of a leap from the physical building to
the virtual space for 20th Century power structures. The "democratic"
nature of the blogosphere is illusory to some degree.
And he questions the notion of blogs as instructional silver bullets:
I’ve been thinking about student blogging, too–from a teacher’s point
of view. I’m no expert, so this is not a judgment, but rather an
observation: student blogging in itself is nothing to cheer about.
Lousy student blogging is just lousy writing–virtual graffiti of the
worst sort. Lousy blogging assignments–blogs as new bottles for sour
milk, just a "non-traditional way to turn in traditional homework"–are
also nothing to cheer about. . . .
EdWeek’s message seems to be geared for an audience that’s living in 2004—an eternity ago given what Moore, Metcalfe, Reed, and a pack of other "lawmakers" have said about exponential growth. This is reason to question its relevance.
On the other hand, the edublogosphere’s messages don’t seem to be making it out of the echo chamber. This is reason to question their relevance.