Tuesday, February 27, 2007

To Blog or not to Blog

Just what is a Blog anyway? How is a blog different from your persoanl web page? or is it different at all?

Some people may say that a Blog or Web Log is basically a Personal Web Page, and these have been around the Internet since the inception of the Web. We would say that there is a bit more to blogging than just creating a personal page.

A blog can be about you, or your class, or a project, or just about anything at all. Whereas the main function of a personal web page tends to be disseminating information, a blog is much more about community building, about exchanging information, about the evolution of interests and ideas. Your PWP may just sit there, but one expects your blog to be constantly changing as you and others interact through it.

So what does a blog have that a PWP doesn't?

  1. Topic - A blog tends to focus on one or several ideas or interests. However these may evolve over time. The blogger presents his or her own thoughts and seeks comments, exchanges with others. The thoughts of the blogger are meant to be un-edited, the unfiltered expressions of the blogger.
  2. Comments - Visitors to the blog can comment on the blogger's ideas or on other comments from other visitors. So the blog needs to be able to receive comments in some way and make those comments available to future visitors.
  3. Organization - The blogger will organize the blog in some way, usually reverse chronological order, though multi-topic blogs can have varied formats that separate the topics. Organization helps visitors know where to look for things. Links to related web sites, to related blogs are part and parcel of the art of blogging. They may also add other features: music, video, pictures, podcasts, archives.

However, some blogs may not have some of these common features. Are they really blogs? What do you think? Submit your comment:

Services that provide easy maintenance of these sorts of blog-like activities have made it easy for individuals with little technological acumen to have their own blog.

Blogs in the language classroom

The attraction of blogs for the FL classroom is that students can be engaged in topics for class discussion or class activities and share comments and reactions to the comments of others on an ongoing basis. This provides a forum for real communication in the target language as well as a place for asking questions that might be answered by the teacher or, better yet, by other students. Blog topics for the FL class can be infinitely varied, though clearly teacher oversight, as always, is a must.

The curricular topics of the syllabus are a place to start.
  • Students can be asked to suggest blog topics and even provide initial opinion pieces to get topics started.
  • Important school or course activities can generate discussion: a trip abroad, a recent sporting event, community news, etc.

For more about blogs:


Bob Ponterio said...

This is just a start.

Juana la loca said...

Greetings from a non-blogger. :-)

Sarah said...

Hi--I'm a French teacher at Colorado State University. We're thinking about having our students keep blogs during a summer study abroad program instead of writing a reflective paper or keeping a scrapbook (as part of a one-credit culture course). That way they can share experiences (including pictures and links) with friends, and family; they would also comment on each other's posts, which means they'll be reading out of genuine curiosity and interest, reading multiple interpretations of, say, the same excursion, and interacting with each other in the target language in writing. It all sounds good to me!

By the way, I have a blog about raising children with more than one language; it includes profiles of bilingual families, book reviews, resource recommendations, and stories about teaching French to children (including my year-old nephew). You're all welcome to come visit! It's called "Bringing up Baby Bilingual" and you can access it by clicking on my name.

Madame300 said...

Hello Bob,

I have been blogging with my level 4 French students for about three years. We use our blog with our French correspondants also, although this year we have been using the French school's Scolastance site to post lots of our work. Here is a blog I created to explain how I use blogging in the class room.

I can send you the url of this year's blog & some from the past I think, but I don't want to post the urls here. If you're interested, contact me & I'll send you the urls.

Sandra Howard

Jen D. said...

Hello. I am also a non-blogger, while I guess I'll call myself a beginner blogger! Sandra, or any other experienced bloggers... Do you find that it is easier to introduce blogging to students now than in the past because most of them are already blogging on nonacademic sites? What are some topics that you are sure to mention/teach that they might not already know about? Thanks for your time. (I hope I'm doing this right?)