Benefits of using blogs in the classroom

In her article ‘Happily Blogging’ (2008), Kim Pericles clearly outlines how blogs can be used as engaging teaching and learning tools in the classroom. Three key utilities of blogs that I feel Kim particularly highlights in her article are:

1. Blogs fit easily in to most KLAs e.g. students could write about a science experiment that they have conducted and reported on or create a video showing their exploration of dramatic elements. Due to this, blogging can be used in the classroom for students to research topics that are of interest to them which, in turn, leads to a more engaged classroom. This helps to develop authentic student direction in their learning.

2. Blogs provide a forum for teachers and students to develop their new literacies, providing authentic contexts for the using many internet applications and multimodal sources (e.g. videos, animations, photographs). Through this work, teachers can model and teach students how to navigate informational sources on the net ethically and for credibility. Together the class can create explicit quality criteria and high expectations for their blogging, such as through the development of such things as ‘blogging rules, topic guide-lines, editing requisites, good commenting guides, positive responses, open ended question guides, and reflective openers’ (pg. 5).

3. Blogging enables communication with classrooms across the world. Kim gets her students to post drafts and receive feedback from their global classroom friends. Together, this encourages the development of connectivity and global perspectives that are so essential for a successful 21st century life. Gives meaning and purpose to their learning experiences as they have a real audience and authentic purpose. She notes how exciting this experience is for her pupils. As Kim notes, blogs are interactive most and ‘the powerful part of blogging is the opportunity to comment on what you have read on a blog’ (pg. 5).

Reference:
Pericles, K. (2008). Happily blogging @ Belmore South. SCAN, 27(2), 4-6.

Greenwashing and the media

This short video clip ‘Greenwashing and the media’ is a satire exploring the capacity for advertisements to persuade audiences. In particular, it addresses a new phenomenon called ‘greenwashing’ – where corporations attempt to change the images of their ‘brands’ from that of being environmentally unfriendly to being sustainable. They achieve this through such mechanisms as the visuals presented in their ads (e.g. happy babies in a green environment), the audio (e.g. peaceful, harmonious music) and through the information that they select to present and omit. It emphasises the importance of consumers being able to effectively critique the information that they are presented with in today’s age of information bombardment, ending with the phrase “it is easy to look sustainable, but you can’t hide the truth.”

This clip emphasises the importance role of teachers in helping students to develop the critical literacy skills that are essential for the new literacies that they are faced with today. It clearly emphasises the importance of exploring the purpose of the composer creating a text and of assessing the ways in which the text, sounds and images are carefully constructed to create meanings and impact audiences. Through reducing media content to its basic components, teachers can help students to evaluate information (is it accurate?) and learn to construct their own messages to convey their intended meanings.

‘New literacies’

baby-using-laptop-006

The idea of what constitutes a ‘text’ is no longer constricted to a printed book. Instead, it now encapsulates other forms of communicating made possible through our digital advances, such as via SMS, blogs and wikis. As a product, the concept of literacy in the 21st century (aka ‘new literacies‘) is one that is in a state of constant transformation due to our emerging and evolving digital technologies and practices.

These new literacies are multimodal. While in the literature of the past text and images were typically quite separated and the linguistic mode tended to dominate, digital communication is changing what it means to write. Digital texts  convey meaning through the blending of writing, images, film and music (the visual and auditory modes). They ‘combine letters, symbols, colours, sounds and graphics to extend language and the ways we communicate’ (Houtman, 2013).

New forms of strategic knowledge (e.g. research skills, technical skills and critical analysis skills), ethical understandings and social practices (such as collaboration and networking) are required in order for individuals to be proficient with these new literacies (Lankshear & Knobel, 2012). As a result, teachers have an important and changing role in the development of their students’ literacy skills – in an environment where literacies are constantly evolving and developing they can become orchestrators of the learning contexts, encouraging their students to take lead.

References:

Houtman, E. (2013). New literacies, learning, and libraries: How can frameworks from other fields help us think about the issues? In the Library with the Lead Pipe.  Retrieved fromhttp://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2013/new-literacies-learning-and-libraries-how-can-frameworks-from-other-fields-help-us-think-about-the-issues/ Accessed March 18th, 2014

Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2012). ‘New’literacies: technologies and values. Teknokultura. Revista de Cultura Digital y Movimientos Sociales, 9(1), 45-71.  Retrieved fromhttp://everydayliteracies.net/files/RemixTeknokulturaEnglish.pdf Accessed March 18th, 2014