After looking at the different web 2.0 technologies, I can think of quite a few ways to integrate blogs into my class, as a stand-alone project or in conjunction with other technologies. Since communication is my goal – encouraging uninhibited dialogue – a blog would present an environment in which students could communicate without the feeling of embarrassment if a word isn’t pronounced correctly. It really lowers the affective filter, allowing students to concentrate more on what they’re saying as opposed to how.
Bell describes embedding the learning in the technology – using it as a stepping stone, not an end in itself. Blogging would do just that. Students could communicate with each other, with students from France or another French-speaking country, or with me. I could tailor the communicative assignments to fit the audience. It would definitely be CAI (computer aided instruction).
My WebQuest, for instance, will rely heavily on blogging. Assignments will scaffold or build off of one another, requiring students to put together what they’ve learned over several years of language instruction. I think it will be what Bell refers to as constructivist because the students will be the ones running the show. They will be responsible for their learning, which will build on their own experiences and past learning. I will merely serve as facilitator, hopefully working to keep things running smoothly. I won’t be running the show.
I would love to use social networking sites to accomplish this, but they are blocked at our school and harder to monitor, I think, since I wouldn’t be the one clearing the posts for ‘publication,’ the site webmaster would.
Since blogging is an essentially reflective activity, I guess I see it as helpful in both deductive and inductive activities. It isn’t a very ‘hands-on’ medium, though.
But, by embedding something interactive into the blog – like a StAIR – or a link to a different site – like Quia – it could become very hands-on.
So, while I started out believing that blogs were really only good for verbal, reflective activities – not hands-on, creating activities – I’ve talked myself out of that idea. Again, you’ve got to love how blogs make you reflect!