The Networked Teacher
Couros (Open Thinking, 2008) developed a model of the networked teacher which represents an educator professional’s personal learning environment. Personal learning environments are systems that help learners take control of and manage their own learning. (Downes, 2007, p. 24)
Figure 1. JPEG image, increasingly more teachers are developing rich personal learning networks through the use of social media.Â
A teacher is better equipped to facilitate networked learning if she or he has experienced the construction of this network model first hand. (Drexel, 2010). The teacher adopts the role of the social constructivist. Constructivism is a philosophy of learning founded on the premise that, by reflecting on our experiences, we construct our own understanding of the world we live in. Each of us generates our own “rules” and “mental models,” which we use to make sense of our experiences. Learning, therefore, is simply the process of adjusting our mental models to accommodate new experiences. (Funderstanding, 2008) The subject of constructivism will be visited again in the networked student section.
Why Blogs in Education?
There are several reasons why edublogs serve a necessary role in distance education. The two main types of edublogs in use in distance education today are 1) the student blog and 2) the instructor blog. The instructor creates an edublog to facilitate learning. The instructor’s edublog serves as the catalyst for furthering the edublogging experience. The student is encouraged in turn to create an edublog to increase their effective written communication skills
Edublogging is educationally sound for teaching students because:
Blogs help learners to see knowledge as interconnected as opposed to a set of discrete facts.
Blogging provides the possibility of connecting with experts on the topic students are writing.
The interactive nature of blogging creates enthusiasm for writing and communication.
Blogging engages students in conversation and learning.
These are some of the disadvantages of edublogging:
Regular writing may give rise to the use of slang and sloppy ways of writing spoiling the quality of proper usage of language.
Blogging cannot be imposed upon students who are hardly interested in reading and replying to the post.
There is no confidentiality as it is a public forum.
The moment students open to the web; it is not just the blogging site that they can have access to. The whole world of information is before them, hence there is every chance that they may get diverted away from the discussion. (OnLine Edublogs)
Let’s begin examining edublogging from the vantage point of the “Typical Teacher”. Alec Couros’s illustration (Open Thinking, 2008) typifies what an instructor’s field of vision witnesses in their role as present state practitioner of the Instructor Led Training Model.
Figure 2. JPEG Image, This diagram attempts to visualize the typical network of teachers.
The Effect of Social and Physical Environment on Edublogging
An interesting perspective occurs when the physical classroom is examined in relationship to the content and appearance of an edublog Web site. The learning landscape shifts from a face front classroom where the student faces the instructor to listen, learn, take notes, ask questions, etc. The social interaction takes place between the student and their computer screen, the edublog page they are reading, writing or interpreting.
An edublog can be a section of a learning management system such as BlackBoard. The communication dynamics can be better represented in a virtual classroom such as BlackBoard learning management system. An edublog however is a more textural, communication medium, it represents a flatter dimensionality than a virtual classroom. An edublog can represent multimedia interpretation with rich graphics, figure illustration examples, video and animation. However an edublog lacks the direct interaction a virtual classroom offers with virtual classroom direct participation.
Edublogs is a blog-hosting Web portal designed specifically for teachers and classrooms. The site features extensive support forums, video tutorials, and helpful documentation to aid a teacher in setting up a blog community for their classroom. One of the best aspects of this site is the blog-management features (i.e., editing and monitoring of all content and comments) for teachers.
A unique feature of Edublogs is the ability to import preexisting blogs from sites such as
Blogger,TypePad, or LiveJournal to the Edublogs server. The reverse, exporting blogs from Edublogs to other hosting sites, is also possible. (Edublogs)
Edublogs serves as a platform for an instructor blogger’s individual training and development so they may hone their craft, shape its style, and mature information content results.