Monday, July 17, 2006

The case against classblogmeister - a response

Below is a comment I left in response to The case against classblogmeister, written by Dean Shareski, filling in for Wesley Freyer on Moving at the Speed of Creativity:

Well I suppose I better say something :) First, I think it is testimony to the power of Classblogmeister that its strengths and weaknesses are being openly debated out here. It is also testimony to its influence and success. Dean, I know you would never have brought up a wimpy, worthless tool that nobody saw much use for except for a few, that nobody could defend...

Next, if the primary "case" against Classblogmeister is that it just doesn't ring the chimes of high school students - well, I think that's a pretty weak case. I doubt David Warlick had his eyes on high school students as the primary beneficiaries of the tool when he was developing it.

On customization, I agree kids love it, that it sucks them into things. As an elementary school teacher however, I will also point out it's one of the biggest dangers lurking out there in introducing new technologies. I don't know how many times I said, as my kids had just been shown (or discovered) some new bell or whistle in PowerPoint and were obsessing over it, "frankly, I don't care how it looks, I care about what you have to SAY". Sound familiar, teachers?

Last, on the issue of longevity of blogs. I might be misunderstanding, but I'm assuming we're talking here about how long student blogs last, not how long Classblogmeister lasts - right? Anyway, having spent a school year blogging successfully with third graders, here are a couple of thoughts on longevity:

1) my kids and I want their blogs to continue. I do because it will be a record of their progress as writers (it's all about writing). They want their blogs to continue because they are proud of them, because they simply want to KEEP DOING THIS. They love being contributors, having a global audience, all that good stuff.

2) will I continue to monitor and publish their writing after they leave my class? Well, I am right now. I've told them 'til the end of the summer. Then who knows? There are a couple of possibilities - actually transferring their blog to another teacher's classroom blog, or I could even continue to monitor and publish. Maybe there is a new tool right around the corner that allows the importing of a Classblogmeister blog. This is totally uncharted territory, and I am not pulling off the road now...

The obvious ps to all of this is that the kids I am talking about are young. Technology will change (duh) in the course of their education. I am going to give them every opportunity to spread their wings and fly as far as is safe - right now. As far as I am concerned, Classblogmeister is the clear tool of choice.

As for the perfect blogging tool for high school students, I'll leave that for somebody else. I can tell you, though, there will be fewer choices in the US than in many other places... but that's another conversation.

Well, Dean, this has gotten to be a mighty long comment, so I guess it now becomes a post on my own blog, too :) Thanks for continuing and pushing the conversation. - Mark

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