Learning about blogging in this course has certainly put me on a steep learning curve. Owing to my nature as a person I have traditionally used the internet to retrieve information and use online tools for practical purposes. So the concept of sharing opinions and ideas not with those I come in contact with daily but via the internet is a little foreign to me. Despite this I appreciated that there may be uses for blogs in my future career, so I set up my Weebly site using the tutorial instructions.
The Weebly website was relatively simple to use to set up a blog in terms of registration etc. but the functionality within the site can be a little awkward. This may be deliberate to steer people towards the paid version. The awkwardness could be a result of the programmers designing the site with simplicity in mind rather than higher end functionality. Managing the layout is made easier with templates and the sidebar containing functions, which makes imbedding content a very intuitive process. The variety of tools or ‘apps’ as referred to on Weebly is quite extensive in that blogs can be imbedded with video, audio, mapping, text and imaging contents to name a few.
As an aspiring mathematics and physics teacher I initially struggled to see how a blog could be used constructively in my future teaching endeavours. After some thought, I was able to see how value can be created by using the platform; for instance, many physics concepts are best explained using videos and interactive images showing how different components of a physical system interact. These videos could be uploaded and viewed by students in their own time prior to class to free up room in the class timetable for higher end discussion/activities on concepts. A mathematics blog could be used to show students where the concepts they are studying at school are used in real life application. This once again frees up time in class that teachers would normally use up answering the age old ‘’but when are we actually going to use this stuff?’’ questions posed by students. By giving students meaning to their work prior to entering the classroom, the preconceived ideas regarding usefulness would increase their productivity. In addition to the examples given above, a blog could be used by students to demonstrate abilities further up the SAMR model. Science students could show deeper cognitive skills in relation to an experiment by videoing or ‘vlogging’ real life examples of smaller scale experiments conducted in class and posting these along with their own thoughts on how the small scale experiment is connected to the real life example.
I chose to delve further into the blog space rather than the wiki space as I prefer content to have a single identifiable source, which in turn leads to a single source of accountability. For all the benefits of collaboration, I believe it is important to instil in students an understanding of what is meant by accountability, a difficult lesson for students to learn through wikis.
As with all interactions between adolescents and the internet, safety issues, ethical issues and legal obligations need to be considered when using a blog as a teaching tool.
Each Weebly account is password protected to give the creator security in that they are the sole author of content. Individual pages can be allocated by their own password if multiple authors wish to work on separate pages in the same blog. In regards to comments on weebly blogs, there are settings that allow the owner of the site to approve and/or delete comments that they do not see as appropriate. An example of an ethical issue that may arise through setting up a blog for students is the commercialisation of a blog site through advertising. A teacher may have hundreds of students that wish to access the blog for their learning and advertisers are always keen to put advertisements on popular sites as students can be potential customers. Legal considerations relating to the use of blogs for academic purposes arise for teachers when deciding what content to imbed in them. Teachers must be careful not to expose students to R rated material or infringe on any copyright laws. These lessons too must be passed on to students who intend on sharing content on a blog.