Evaluating My Blog

It was with interest that I read Kim Cofino’s blog entry the other day entitled "Creating a Blogging Scope and Sequence".  I think that the intent was to provide a sense of academic rigour in the process.  This followed on a message that an Ontario Educator, @danikabarker, had sent out indicating that she was marking blog posts.

I’ve seen a number of rubric creations that people use to assess blogs and they do serve to remind me that I’m not a teacher of English!  I do understand the need for an assessment if creating a blog or responding to blog posts are part of the criteria for a course.  All of this follows, of course, on a little forth and back that I had with Jenny Luca about academic rigour in terms of references, etc., for blog creation.

All of this really is interesting – after all, blogging is something that we’ve contrived relatively recently as a reading, writing, and responding mechanism.  So, it does make sense that there is an attempt to put a number or letter on things for classroom reporting.  I recall a conversation that I had with an A&E person who indicated that "if it wasn’t assessed, it wasn’t taught".  I really had difficulty with the logic because just it was "taught" doesn’t necessarily mean that it was "learned".  But, it wasn’t the first time that I had disagreed with this person.

So, if we’re going to do some sort of assessment, I guess the question should be "what for?"  I can see where there may be some who would consider this a culminating activity.  Perhaps the actual "words to blog" action could be.  If we see a blog as an area to develop and share concepts, and an ongoing process, I would hope that it’s more of a formative assessment with the goal of making the writer more reflective and to use the tools, along with reader feedback, as an ongoing area for improvement.

As more classrooms include blogging as an academic exercise, maybe it’s time to define just what it is we mean when we say "blog".  In her post, Kim quotes from Will Richardson’s Blogs, Wikis, Podcast and Other Powerful Web Tools for the Classroom book on page 32.

Now, I have great respect for all of the folks that I’ve referenced above so I thought that maybe it would be interesting to evaluate my own blog.  I was all set to go when another voice who I greatly respect, Stephen Downes, comments on Kim’s original post as "For the record, the things she says are not blogging, are blogging."

So, where does one start?  I go back to my A&E resource who indicated once that "there need to be clearly defined targets" that students can aim for. 

I don’t think that it’s going too far out on a limb that all of the above want to push bloggers towards #8 in the list above.  As I reflect on this blog, I surely can see 2, 3, and 4 on a regular basis.  In fact, it’s my goal that once a day I use this blog to share what I’m finding on the internet with the hope that it is of value to other.  For the most part, I would suggest that my ramblings are 5 and 6.  I guess that I just have to learn to live with the word "simple".

And yet, there is another side to all of this.  It seems to me that the value of blogging is in the value that readers have to the blog itself.  This manifests itself in a number of ways.  There’s nothing like the thrill that comes when someone writes a reply or mentions the writing on Twitter encouraging others to read the content.  From a quantitative perspective, the statistics that most blogging platforms provide real numbers as an indication of the value of the content.  If the goal of blogging is to start or continue the discussion, shouldn’t the level of engagement that results be the ultimate assessment tool?

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9 thoughts on “Evaluating My Blog

  1. NoelineL says:

    I admire Richardson’s work – enormously. He coaxed many of us into entering the light of networking; however, the “not” after “not” in his list of what makes a blog a blog might deter prudent folk from having a go at creating one. The “nots” put the blog, and not the learner/writer first. Perhaps in the classroom, we need to differentiate the view of blogs to meet the needs of the student. Keeping that in mind, before the students begin crafting their blog entry/ies, they need to be walked through the assessment, or if it’s a culminating activity, evaluation requirements to obviate any unpleasant surprises.

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  2. MIKE MCILVEEN says:

    I give this a #8! You have the synthesis of variety of sources and different theses. Nice!
    As well, I like your point on assessment. Lots of learning (most?) happens without any assessment. I liken it to “learning to ski”; no formal test is required when we’re engaged in the object of the activity. In the case of student blogging the object is engagement, motivation, and higher order thinking. All of those are evident in the blog itself.

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  3. Sarah Perez reported the seemingly decline in blogging by young people http://rww.to/d6JKJ4 I actually suspect that blogging’s move into the classroom as another contrived reading/writing activity could be partly to blame. You just have to hope that teachers who really blog as a way to “sense and share,” as Harold Jarche calls the process, could create the conditions for students to experience the value of blogging for network learning. I think Stephen Downes is right that we drain the lifeblood out of Web 2.0 tools when we make them classroom tools.

    PS — I’m happy to hit #8 now and then and hate the thought of getting graded down if I don’t.

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  4. I agree as well, Cris. In some way, I’d like to draw a parallel to the thrill and excitement of mathematics and problem solving. Young students love puzzles and games which have an underpinning of mathematics. Then, somewhere in middle school, it goes missing for many. What has changed? Is it that we’ve now made it a formal subject and taken the wonder and excitement from it? Is it the same thing? I don’t think that necessarily having them as classroom tools is bad – but perhaps adding academic rules and evaluations does.

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  5. Thanks so much for your response on Stephen’s Web and here, Doug. I confess to being such a newbie that I’ve not figured out how to retrace my steps to make sure I catch the follow-up to my comments.

    You nailed it with your math example. It’s the curse of formality that takes the natural thrill out of learning. Has no one figured out yet that costly video games/serious gaming will eventually reap the same response? It’s like the toddler with the jar caps. It’s not about the expensive toys but creating the conditions where the learner has autonomy and freedom to have fun with the learning.

    I’ve checked out the blog rubrics and scope and sequence and these are thoughtfully designed. I just wonder if 40 years from now that kids who are learn to blog through this model are still blogging? I interviewed a lawyer/non-profit admin who began a journal in 6th grade as a simple class assignment (no rubric – just do it) and has continued for the rest of his life. He made it a lifelong part of his being because he found value in the doing.

    I hope to design an ePortfolio approach that enables grad students to explore blogging on their own terms and assess the value they’ve found in it and how they can give their students that same freedom. Wish me luck!

    Thanks for encouraging my blogging and commenting — it’s a recursive cycle.

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  6. Gildardo says:

    We are in a new era with new students where teachers´role has changed as them. We need to take our attention in those aspects in order to get better the educational system.

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