Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Educational Pros and Cons of Blogs

In the CommonCraft video (LeFever, 2009) I noticed the sentence “As blogs became popular, they gave everyone an audience for their own version of news.” For me, the word “audience” sums up a key feature of blogs; that they are primarily the thoughts of one person and completely under his/her control. As such, they are less collaborative than say, a wiki or a ning. That being said, I believe they do have a place in education. Blogs allow more informal writing than a web page, which is a more formal representation of an author’s thoughts (Comeau, M., 2006). But while observers of a web page can only receive its content, a blog allows readers to interact with the author. Blogs changed the “Read” Web into the “Read/Write” Web. They changed the Web from a consumer environment to a producer environment.
The educational uses of blogs are tantalizing. Blogs are technically easy to start and cheap, or free, to maintain (Lindsay, S., 2009). The expensive factor of a blog is the need to continue writing to it. Because they have an ongoing, temporal nature, it is possible for students to begin a writing project and yet leave it in a condition of incompleteness for a short while (Comeau, M., 2006). The down side of this characteristic is that the audience of a blog expects continuing, timely updates in order to hold their interest and gain their reading loyalty. Blogging is a great way to get feedback about your own writing (McGovern, 2004). Blogging takes you from writing to publishing, editing and revision of your own work. Blogs are a good way to inform others and become informed yourself.
Blogging can help a student focus on the writing task at hand and give meaning and motivation to it (Illya, 2009). Blogs are an attractive way to get students to practice their writing skills and improve them. The personal nature of a blog helps to create a sense of ownership for students as well. Because blogs are so public, they can tend to cause students to be more careful with their writing, especially if their reason for writing is sufficiently demanding (Travis, 2009).
On the negative side, blogging might be intimidating for an unskilled writer because of the potentially global audience. Conversely, blogging might be an outlet for a shy, quiet student who doesn’t like the pressure of an audience around himself. It also might be a challenge to keep students writing to their blogs if the writing prompts they are responding to aren’t sufficiently motivating or personally relevant. If the students are not held accountable for the quality of their writing (i.e. they aren’t continuously graded on it or corrections aren’t made) then the writing conventions may become more casual and sloppy with time (Travis, 2009). Because blogs are an asynchronous writing tool, they may lose a sense of urgency due to the time delay between an original post and responses to it. Lastly, depending on the topics covered, an inherent lack of confidentiality may cause some limitations on the classroom use of blogs. Last, but certainly not least, I can’t envision how a teacher could make corrections to a student’s written work posted on a blog. Perhaps a strategy I recently heard about from a writing teacher would suffice; tell the student you have found X spelling errors, Y punctuation errors, and Z grammar errors on their post, and then have the student re-post with the corrections made (or not!).


Comeau, M. (October 11, 2006) “Blog Pros And Cons” Retrieved from: on November 10, 2009.
“Illya”. (2009) “The pros and cons of blogs.” Retrieved from: on November 10,2009.
LeFever, L. (2009) “Blogs in Plain English.” CommonCraft videos. Retrieved from on November 10, 2009)
Lindsay, S. “Blogging - Pros and Cons.” Retrieved from: on November 10, 2009)
McGovern, G. (August 23, 2004) “Blogs and blogging: advantages and disadvantages.” Retrieved from: on November 10, 2009.