Barbara Ganley blogs about teaching with blogs. "If we want to encourage our students to use blogging as a powerful communication tool, we have to teach them the difference between blogging as daily diary, and blogging as a way to dig deep into ideas and to grow communities of discourse, of knowledge and of action."
The institution and its faculty must mentor and model this practice of reaching out in the world to discuss and share ideas, ask questions, and work collaboratively. "
Barbara quotes George Seimens' Connectivism Blog post on "Designing ecosystems versus designing learning"
"Instead of designing instruction (which we assume will lead to learning), we should be focusing on designing ecologies in which learners can forage for knowledge, information, and derive meaning.
What's the difference between a course and an ecology? A course, as mentioned is static - a frozen representation of knowledge at a certain time. An ecology is dynamic, rich, and continually evolving. The entire system reacts to changes - internal or external. An ecology gives the learner control - allowing her to acquire and explore areas based on self-selected objectives. The designer of the ecology may still include learning objectives, but they will be implicit rather than explicit."
I am going to have dinner on November 4th with my former students from the University of Amsterdam's Graduate Business School. Since I worked with them using a blog comblined with a wiki, I am going to use these two blog posts to open a new kind of dialogue with them. They are still struggling with how to take the alumni brand they developed and turn it into a business model. I notice on their blog that the postings have become more of a forum rather than a place to generate ideas. Perhaps this will once again trigger something.
I still believe that teaching blogs - or any attempts to build community - require 3 agents: moderator of the discussion, facilitator of the process, and a mediator for reaching the human side of contribution and collaboration. Without these 3 agents working closely with a group, it's difficult to help the group discover their shared common purpose for coming together and building something together.
I would really like to hear more experiences from others using blogs and wikis in the classroom.