Weblogs and Teaching

This weblog has been running for two years and its seen a few permutations. I think it’s an excellent thing, the weblog. With the weblog comes the habit of writing and reading in this space, making links, reading off into the hyperzones of the web. This habit is important. It seems to me that people choose to take part and are doing so, and this habit or virtue can quickly become a necessity. Writing and reading.

But this habit is also the weblog’s greatest weakness as a teaching tool. When I introduced my wife to the weblog after buying her a laptop happy with wifi, she quickly took up the habit and now reads them regularly. The habit, however, can’t be forced, and the inclination to open people to the possibilities won’t necessarily lead to anything profitable if the habit conflicts with others.

5 thoughts on “Weblogs and Teaching

  1. susan

    Not sure what you’re saying here…

    a) You’re laying a guilt trip on me (and others) because you’ve created a monster who hasn’t been picture framing (studying, writing, spotwelding, etc.);
    b) You’re sorry you introduced your wife to weblogs because dinner isn’t promptly on the table when you walk in the door;
    c) You’re feeling guilty because your own work isn’t getting done, so get offline and teach somebody something;
    d) Profitable for whom? The opener or the openee? ‘sides, profit’s a dirty word.

    Writing and reading as habits or virtues existed before weblogs, they are just another medium that appeals to the immediacy of the moment. And, the experience is just as insightful as wall ball.

  2. Steve Post author

    The weblog as a “teaching tool” has weakness as any other teaching tool will. I mean tool here in a broad sense–a thing to use for an end. For a teacher to demand a new kind of habit–regular weblog reading–would conflict with other habits, even if one of those habits included not reading much of anything. Profit comes from self study and self-motivation, I would argue.

  3. susan

    I don’t of course see it from the viewpoint of instructor as you have the benefit of doing, but my first reaction is that tools are usually (or at least often) used in conjunction with each other, i.e., a shovel and wheelbarrow, a hammer and saw. In the way of technology, the weblog and computer may replace the chalkboard to enhance the textbook. I wouldn’t think that the teacher is “demanding” anything but learning and is simply using the tools at his disposal. Wouldn’t weblogs replace in some instances an essay paper written and read in class, a presentation (as Little Red Capp in New Media), a notebook in the classroom, etc.? Just as classroom time is limiting to what can be presented, the instructor naturally should be aware of some guesstimate of time a weblog or any other computer work done as homework, let’s say, should take. So, you wouldn’t ask for a daily weblog posting on top of a handwritten essay (on a different topic) plus exams and such without some portion having to be cut back from it’s traditional amount of work expected. I think the problem is 1)in the transitioning and the learning of both time expended and quality of learning offered and 2) the willingness of the students to learn new methods of learning. I wouldn’t expect to be asked to dissect a frog in one of your classes, nor recite Poe in Statistics, so it is up to the knowledge and experience of the instructor to compromise and decide what constitutes a full workload that is achievable and applicable. Motivation is up to the student. Even the most inspiring teacher can only reach those who are self-motivated or open to become such. I really think the instructor, usually the person with the most experience and knowledge in the classroom, should be the one to decide what will be learned and so select the best method to teach it.

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