"A student came to me this morning carrying a globe and a look of complete amazement on his face. I know, sounds like the intro to a joke... but seriously, he pointed at the globe and said "Shanghai is in CHINA! Someone read my blog in CHINA!" As if this wasn't perfect enough a student looked up from his blog and said, "Mr. Showers already told you, we are world wide!" and then calmly went back to entering his blog."
It is about communication. It is about the light it gives them into the lives of others and their ideas. This changes how we use technology with kids. The user friendliness of these tools has democratized who uses them, who has a voice, and who we get to hear. When computers were hard to use and the tools were complex, we heard from geeks and hackers, now we hear the voices of teenage girls. Wait until technology penetrates into places it isn't right now. When we hear from more African girls, and the voices of young boys in South East Asia, I'll know that we are getting somewhere. It will be their lives, their stories, and their hopes spilling into blogs, podcasts, and wikis. They are the next line of early adopters.
It is empowering to students that they can voice their thoughts and immediately see them published on the web. Then the anticipation they feel when they open their own blogs and knowing that someone cared enough to comment and care about what they wrote. It really gives them ownership in a way we could never provide within our classroom walls.
When a student is scribe they take particularly good class notes and think deeply about what they learned that day. The process of writing their scribe (we've created a new use for that noun) forces them to reflect on their learning and work to articulate the lesson as though they were teaching it. The paradigm in medical school is watch it, do it, teach it. My students have brought that paradigm into our classes.
When I think of blogs, I think primarily of what this technology enables my students to accomplish. When I look forward to reading their entries and comments I am really looking forward to thoughts made visible.