Understanding real value of blogging: time, connectivity, need for reflection
Sebastian Fiedler asks How to seed a learning environment that allows for evolutionary growth?:
Most people who kept personal Webpublishing projects (Weblogs, Wikis, etc.) running for months and years can report how certain qualities and benefits only emerged over time. They remember how they were basically talking to themselves at the beginning, how they found a small circle of like -minded authors, how this circle grew through chance meetings and focused search, how their readership grew and got more diverse, and so on.
Now, my question is: what parts of this evolutionary growth model could we hope to seed and watch unfold over the period of a semester? ... or will we never be able to touch the "real potential" of personal and collaborative Webpublishing in formal instructional settings because of the usual constraints on time, pace and structure?
Sebastien Paquet comments:
Sebastian offers an interesting questioning on how the constraints of formal education settings make it difficult to fruitfully integrate personal webpublishing in student activities. Time is one of the key issues.
From my experience it does seem hard to reap the benefits of personal webpublishing within a short timeframe. It easily took me four months to integrate myself into the network - and I spent a lot of that time in the blogosphere, something a time-pressured student is unlikely to be able or willing do.
I agree: real value of blogging unfolds with time. This would create problem in any setting with time pressures and low initial motivation for blogging, not only in the classroom. The first thing I thought about was introducing weblogs in a company: most of the people I talk with about weblogs say "sounds interesting, but I don't have time".
Even more complicated, introducing weblogs in any "protected" environment, such as class-only access server (or Intranet), decreases the probability of establishing critical number of meaningful connections.
So, what I would do? Quick brainstorm...
- Integrate weblogs with meaningful activities: use weblogs as communication medium (e.g. by asking team to document design decisions), eliminate other assignments...
- Simulate/stimulate connections: ask outside experts to comment on classroom blogs, ask students to comment on each others weblogs, reveal posts close to each other by using topics/categories...
We can work it out in more detail, but I'd like to come back to Sebastian's original question "how do we address and foster the necessary reflexivity in our novice learners and aspiring practitioners?". I wonder what if weblogs do not provide a good environment for developing reflective skills, but simply work as "reflection capturing and amplifying devices" for people with existing need and skills for reflection? Where do we start when?
I'd love to see any good references about understanding the nature of reflexivity and techniques that foster it. I just realised that even this topic has been an important part of my thinking for several years, I don't know much about existing literature on it. To be more specific I'm interested why for some people reflection seems to be an integral activity (e.g. I have no idea how did I develop reflective skills), while others need support to develop it?