I enjoyed presenting at the Checkmark Conference at Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario primarily because my audience consisted almost exclusively of student teachers. Even though most had never heard of blogging before the conference, they were all very receptive and generally enthusiastic about the technology and the type of student engagement that it can foster. Experienced teachers are often so attached to their experience and tried and tested ways of teaching that they are reluctant to even attempt to bring blogging into their classrooms. Blogging, like so many other knowledge-building technologies, de-thrones the teacher. Not too many teachers used to the transmission model of education are willing to abdicate.
The future teachers at the Checkmark Conference responded very well to my call for classrooms based on knowledge-building and personal engagement with ideas. This is a very encouraging sign. Those who stayed or e-mailed me after my talk to ask additional questions, seemed truly motivated to become facilitators. They seemed very impressed with examples of student work that I always use to show that blogging can impact young people, their motivation, and the quality of their writing.
What I also tried to make clear is that technology itself is not going to transform struggling or reluctant students into capable and enthusiastic writers. In order to be truly effective, blogging needs to be used as technology to support students in an active process of co-constructing knowledge. This requires that we look at curriculum as facilitators interested in guiding students rather than spoonfeeding them. We have to enter their conversation not as superior evaluators but as guiding and contributing voices, as co-investigators.