Blogging as "An Experience"

I believe that when students are part of a class blogosphere - a community of writers and learners - they experience a learning process that occurs continuously. It does not stop when the lesson ends. It does not stop when the assignment is completed. It goes on. Since blogging does not naturally lend itself to tests or deadlines, a blogosphere does not have abrupt stops such as tests or unit projects which, once completed, indicate to students that one part of learning is over and the next one is about to begin. In other words, a class blogosphere is likely to furnish learners with what John Dewey refers to as "an experience." Dewey claims that we have "an experience" when "the material experienced runs its course to fulfillment." In Art as Experience, Dewey argues that an experience, in order to be an experience, has to be "so rounded out that its close is a consummation and not a cessation." In other words, a true experience is more than just a singular event, it is a flow. A true experience is a continuous process of interaction and transaction between human beings and the world around them. A true experience involves being at one with the surrounding environment:

human beings are originally and continually tied to their environment, organically related to it, changing it even as it changes them. Human beings are fundamentally attached to what surrounds them.

A class blogosphere, or blogging in general, offers the type of environment that its participants can be "organically related to." While it may consist of specific texts which have their own beginings and ends, or specific assignments with assigned deadlines, a class blogosphere is an entity that continuously evolves. No text within this environment is ever truly "complete." It can always be expanded upon, commented on, linked to, or alluded to in another post or another blog. As a result, the community itself is sutained by a continuous flow of its constituent parts:

In an experience, flow is from something to something. As one part leads into another and as one part carries on what went before, each gains distinctness in itself. The enduring whole is diversified by successive phases. (Dewey, Art as Experience)

While individual bloggers in a class blogosphere all compose individual texts, their work contributes to the "enduring whole" of the community where texts are written, commented on, re-written, and linked to in the ongoing process of interaction. Dewey, then, goes on to say that this causes

... continuous merging, there are no holes, mechanical injunctions, and dead centers when we have an experience. There are pauses, places of rest, but they punctuate and define the quality of movement." (Dewey, Art as Experience)

When the course or the year ends and students graduate, the movement may stop but chances are that, having experienced the flow of learning, students will continue to perceive learning not as a series of neatly compartmentalized units but a continuous movement, an enduring current.