The second week of Assessment in E-Learning focused upon the use of blogs as an assessment tool. As part of this module all students in the class were required to create a blog. I love to read blogs, and I have learned so much from the blogs I’ve read. However, I have not ever really attempted a blog of my own, nor have I been very successful thus far in getting their use implemented at my elementary school. If I am to be successful in seeing the use of blogs implemented, then I must have some very specific purposes in mind. In addition, with our school’s accelerated highly academic curriculum, any tech tool that I introduce had better serve multiple purposes.
The required article by Luemann and MacBride described how two high school teachers utilized blogs as student-centered learning and assessment tools. One point in the article kept coming back to me as I read the article with my school in mind – new forms of media literacies require a shift in mindset. We have to move away from the teacher being the source of the knowledge being disseminated and the test or paper written for the teacher being the major form of assessment. Teachers must learn to recognize student autonomy in learning and to provide students the opportunity to share their learning with each other and the world.
It has just been this last year that my school mandated classroom websites, and it has been difficult at times to even get teachers to keep their web pages current. After reading the article and playing a bit with my own blog, I think that I prefer the classroom blog model to a web page in that it is more fluid and as in the case of Mr. K’s example in the article allows students to create and share content. Furthermore, giving elementary students the opportunities to create their own blogs could be extremely motivational. Blogging would allow them to use technology, which always seems to engage my students. However, as my friend Clif Mims says, “It’s not about the technology, it’s about the learning.”
If I am to be successful in implementing the use of blogs at my school, however, I will need to emphasize the qualities which make blogs useful in the formal assessment of learning. These are the points I would make –
- Blog posts could be assessed for quality of presentation. Writing skills are a huge emphasis at our school since many of my students come from homes where proper English is not emphasized. Posts could be evaluated using our standard writing rubric. Furthermore, as pointed out in the article, students could be given the opportunity to post and critique each other’s work, allowing for edits before the teacher evaluated the post. By making the process social, it will increase student engagement in the writing process. However, since the posts are viewable by all, I can see more care being put into the effort on the front end.
- Posts can be evaluated as to the quality of the content. Did the students learn what they needed to learn? Did they answer the prompt? Did they reflect upon the information? Did they incorporate higher order thinking skills in their analysis? There are so many possibilities for assessment here! Rubrics would need to be developed to help guide the students in crafting good blog posts.
- Blogs could be evaluated for creativity and technical skills. Creativity is another focus at our school and blogs offer students the opportunity to be create content for blog (photos, videos, audio, etc.). Furthermore, the use of blogs will allow students to practice keyboarding, hyperlinking, uploading files, etc. even possibly learning some basic HTML. We have technology standards as well as academic standards to meet. When we can integrate technology into core academic content, we are utilizing technology as it is meant to be used, as a tool and separate tech classes are extraneous.
- Blogs offer the instructor a method of differentiating the curriculum. Given broad prompts or topics, students will be able to explore areas of their own interest in their blogs. Participation could also be differentiated — Challenge problems/prompts, review prompts, Scribe of the Day, etc.