By Jacob Gutnicki
“Last year Creed asked me how to set up a blog. Wanting to protect the world from being exposed to Creed's brain, I opened up a Word document on his computer and put an address at the top. I've read some of it. Even for the intranet, it's... pretty shocking.” (The Office, Season 3, Episode 23)
Many administrators fret about students and teachers creating blogs for this very reason. After all, in this age of accountability it only takes one incident to end a principal’s career. So what does the principal do? No one wants student work containing poor grammar to get posted. Likewise, no one wants to create a controversy through a student blog. Subsequently, many schools do not encourage the use of blogs and in some cases even discourage/ban its use.
This is a shame as the power of publishing is a motivator that should not be underestimated. Since the dawn of the Internet cutting edge schools have been creating web sites centered on a variety of themes and have found time after time that it helped drastically improve student-writing skills and proved to be a powerful motivator. The students were excited to see their work displayed on a web site as it gave them a voice that can be seen by millions of people. However, in those days web publishing required that the user code in HTML or use a GUI Web Editor and a FTP application such as DreamWeaver and/or Fetch.
Thanks to the advent of Web 2.0 tools, web based publishing is as easy as using Microsoft Word. No longer does one need a FTP account or knowledge of how to use a web editor, code in HTML, or use a FTP client. This in turn has lead to a publishing revolution and explosion of information as never seen before.
Yet there are still many holdouts that fear the worst. Are these fears rational? Will students and teachers post something terrible? To be truthful these are tough questions. How many times have we seen an inappropriate ranting posted on the Internet? Additionally, posted work with poor grammar may lead to a false impression about the academic rigor of a given school.
However, one must ask the following question; “If not now, when?” Simply put, shouldn’t schools teach children how to write? If not, who is preparing students to interact and compete in a world powered by web based tools? If we choose to avoid using Web 2.0 tools in the classroom, we are leaving students to their own devices in which they are far more likely to blog without any regard to netiquette and proper use of grammar. Therefore, I implore administrators to adopt the use of technology tools, which promote writing. Naturally, schools should create a review process and protocols that help students write more thoughtfully and effectively. In fact, the blog can be a great learning opportunity in which we teach students about netiquette and writing mechanics. Who knows? With a little innovation and caution we might just produce the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling.
Why I started a blog and why maybe you should too,
Is Blogging Worth The Risk? For Most Teachers, No
Is Blogging Worth The Risk? - Yes!