Microblogging

Blogging and micro-blogging can be very effective tools to have in the classroom.  Blogging allows students to express their thoughts and ideas in a reflective manner before sharing with the whole class.  The comment feature on blogs and micro-blogs like Twitter allow people to connect to each other as they share opinions.  Commenting can also be useful in the classroom to increase participation and empower student voices because they can see that someone else is reading and connecting with what they’ve written.  Micro-blogging can be useful in teaching because character limits make word choice very important.  The hashtag feature on Twitter allows users to find only those Tweeters that are posting about specific topics.  Because blogging and micro-blogging are digital forms of communication, it is very easy to share links, videos, pictures, or articles with other users who can have instant access to those materials.  These communication tools are useful for connecting others to each other without wait time.

As with all things, there is a negative side to blogging and micro-blogging.  In my opinion, Twitter is not very easy to use.  I kept getting confused about how to find what I was looking for and the hashtags didn’t help me much.  I had to use broad terms to find what I was looking for.  For some people, Twitter may be just as unuser-friendly, which is a clear problem if people can’t use the technology in the first place.  Another weakness to micro-blogs is the privacy features.  It’s great that I can follow anyone I want to, but that also means that anyone can follow me as well.  Obviously, lack of privacy encourages smart Internet use because you know people can see what you’re doing, but for someone who already does that, it’s really just creepy knowing that anyone can follow you.  This could be an issue with students as well because many parents do not want their children using the Internet without strict privacy settings in place.  Blogging can be the same way if the blog platform does not allow for private blogs.  Anyone can subscribe to your blog and read everything you have to say.  This crosses over into a discussion about the divide between personal and private lives, which is always tested whenever anything is posted online.

After using blogging and Twitter, I do see ways that I could incorporate aspects from these media in my classroom.  Blogging could replace traditional response journals to 1) go paperless and 2) engage students in a media which they generally feel pretty comfortable using.  Twitter could also be used to engage students if everyone’s post uses our class name hashtag so we can easily find each other’s Tweets.  I still really don’t like Twitter and I doubt I’ll use it much, but I see limited potential in it.  It is questionable that that will even be an option for me, as technology is developing so rapidly Twitter may be replaced within the next couple of years.  Either way, it is important for all educators to reflect on the technology available to them to analyze what place it has in their classroom.

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