Many people tried to answer the question “Why do we write blogs?” In my opinion, Olga Dysthe’s “presentation writing” concept materializes in blogs. This writing style allows you to organize your thoughts and to communicate a message, and it also offers a unique opportunity for reflection. As there are always people who will read what you devise in your mind, you write more clearly. From time to time you review what you wrote. Your internal monologues gradually become dialogues with your readers.
It is encouraging to see that blogs are used more frequently at my school since the implementation of the 1:1 BYOD program. First initiated as a means of communication between teachers, this small-scale publishing enthusiasm spread to classes. For those who have reservations about creating their own blog, the Educational Technologies department offers the possibility to write at the school’s blog. One of our teachers of English, Aybike, addresses many readers via her own blog. At her blog entitled “For the Love of Learning”, she shares her classroom activities, experiences and resources with other teachers who have a passion for learning. One of the projects she shares is the “New Eden” project, samples of which you can access at her blog.
Initially, “New Eden” was a project based on research, creativity and discovery; it had an impressive scenario and was received with interest by the students, but it didn’t involve blogging. Following a brief exchange with Aybike about the project, I suggested her that her students might also write blogs in the process. She embraced the idea of blogging, and took it further than my expectations. By writing blogs, the students could reflect and keep record of the entire project, which, no doubt, contributed a lot to the project. During this process, Aybike and I understood that keeping a blog as a teacher yourself and mentoring the students to write blogs are quite different. To ensure continuity, one has to motivate them constantly. There is also a need to encourage them to discuss about the culture of blogging, to share, and even to follow some blogs. Another point to stress is to write the content in an original and attractive style. Naturally, quickly drafted blogs are far from being perfect. It may be a good idea to advise the students about the optimum amount of effort and time they should spend. Our students cannot really appreciate the idea of contributing to the development of the web and the growth and transformation of information, but this is one of the aspects which we, the educators, are most excited about. To me, blog writing is like shouting in a long hallway. Anyone who opens the door leading to the hallway can hear what you say. But, if you don’t get any answer, how long can you continue calling out? Aybike took a strategic decision: she collaborated with a group of students and teachers from the US, and thus found readers for her students’ blogs. When her students saw that people read and commented on their blogs, their motivation and the quality of the content increased.
Aybike got the idea of the “New Eden” project from a colleague, and she adopted the idea of blogging after she talked with me. Merging her academic and professional experiences, she shaped the project, and gave it an international dimension by the intermediary of another colleague. She is planning to collaborate with other departments next year, and embark on a year-long interdisciplinary project. Ideas grow, and become richer and more valuable by sharing.
How to start? Here are three golden advices:
Remember: a blog is a social and cultural instance. Don’t hesitate to interact or establish a dialogue. Be always ready to collaborate.