Saturday, 3 December 2011


Laptop Keyboard
By Baddog on Flickr

Blogging in classrooms is a discussion currently taking place in our school. There are teachers who think it might have a place in the classroom but it is foreign to them so they are reluctant to jump in with both feet. They think it may take a lot of time. One teacher thought by blogging we are just promoting a child's need to feel he/she is the centre of the universe and that the whole world is interested in what he/she has to say. And in her opinion, no one is really interested in what a child has to say.

Kathy Cassidy
blogs about blogging with students repeatedly in her many blogs. She offers that students who blog become highly engaged students. What would Kathy say to the teacher who thinks students should remain in their classrooms and write for the only audience she offers: herself.
What about authentic tasks? Wouldn't a blog be considered an authentic task?

“Learning methods that are embedded in authentic situations are not merely useful; they are essential.” - Brown, Collins & Duguid. 1989

According to a study out of Australia at University of Wollengong there are 10 components of an authentic task:

1.Authentic tasks have real-world relevance
Activities match as nearly as possible the real-world tasks of professionals in practice rather than decontextualised or classroom-based tasks.

2.Authentic tasks are ill-defined, requiring students to define the tasks and sub-tasks needed to complete the activity. Problems inherent in the tasks are ill-defined and open to multiple interpretations rather than easily solved by the application of existing algorithms. Learners must identify their own unique tasks and sub-tasks in order to complete the major task.

3.Authentic tasks comprise complex tasks to be investigated by students over a sustained period of time. Tasks are completed in days, weeks and months rather than minutes or hours, requiring significant investment of time and intellectual resources.

4.Authentic tasks provide the opportunity for students to examine the task from different perspectives, using a variety of resources. The task affords learners the opportunity to examine the problem from a variety of theoretical and practical perspectives, rather than a single perspective that learners must imitate to be successful. The use of a variety of resources rather than a limited number of preselected references requires students to detect relevant from irrelevant information.

5.Authentic tasks provide the opportunity to collaborate. Collaboration is integral to the task, both within the course and the real world, rather than achievable by an individual learner.

6. Authentic tasks provide the opportunity to reflect. Tasks need to enable learners to make choices and reflect on their learning both individually and socially.

7.Authentic tasks can be integrated and applied across different subject areas and lead beyond domain-specific outcomes. Tasks encourage interdisciplinary perspectives and enable diverse roles and expertise rather than a single well-defined field or domain.

8.Authentic tasks are seamlessly integrated with assessment. Assessment of tasks is seamlessly integrated with the major task in a manner that reflects real world assessment, rather than separate artificial assessment removed from the nature of the task.

9.Authentic tasks create polished products valuable in their own right rather than as preparation for something else. Tasks culminate in the creation of a whole product rather than an exercise or sub-step in preparation for something else.

10.Authentic tasks allow competing solutions and diversity of outcome. Tasks allow a range and diversity of outcomes open to multiple solutions of an original nature, rather than a single correct response obtained by the application of rules and procedures.

A blog really fits the bill in all of the areas. It is has real world relevance. You put your thoughts out for the world to comment on. The blog is open ended and ill-defined. The students must make sense of what they are putting on their blog post. It is certainly a sustained task as the blog can go on indefinitely. A blog allows students to read the perspectives of others and to examine a topic from many perspectives. Collaboration is the key to a blog. You write to begin a conversation. You are certainly offered a platform to reflect in a blog. Assessment is built in to the blog as a teacher is able to read and respond to the students' writing. The blog itself is a product not just practice for something else. The student is not just writing a meaningless sentence required by the teacher on a meaningless topic, but is real to the student and the reader. Diversity rules in blogland. Each blog and blog post will be different and meaningful in different ways depending on the passion of the writer.

What do you think? What would you say to the teacher who doesn't want students to be putting their thoughts out for the world to see?
Will you take the step to give your students a global voice in this ever expanding global, 21st century world or will you limit your students' voices to the classroom?

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