Sailing the Shift in 2012

What is strikingly new,  is the need to guide learners with media or digital literacies. This skill is not merely the ability to use a digital tool; it involves so much more. Let’s take blogging, for instance.
Blogging contributes to a student’s E-portfolio; not one that is tucked away in an institution’s system or VLE, but one which is available anywhere, anytime – even when a learner leaves that particular institution. When regarding a blog as a portfolio, students can more easily demonstrate how they communicate with digital tools, whether these be image editing, uploading a PowerPoint presentation to SlideShare, creating a Prezi,  participating in a Voxopop or any of the many tools available to all. Learners may be on social networks and attached to their mobiles, but it is quite another matter to use digital tools for learning. This where a teacher needs to facilitate and guide learners to develop their digital literacy skills.
There is so much to say about blogging, and so very much may be easily found as well (see references below as an example). What I would like to highlight, are a couple of other reasons why, in my view, blogging is an excellent activity for classrooms:
* Blogging encourages transparency – learners can share their blogs with friends and family; after all, so much of what happens in classrooms remains behind walls and doors. There is also no excuse of having forgotten a book or class project in the classroom (and sometimes, there are projects which need to be kept in the classroom) as a learner can share his/her blog with their family anywhere where there is an internet connection. Another consideration to bear in mind, is that this transparency also leads to a dialogue with the curriculum. More on that below.
* Digital Citizenship – Digital citizenship covers issues such as E-Safety, Cyberbullying, one’s Digital Footprint but also issues as how to participate in online communities and maintain a digital identity. Blogging may be a flexible platform to show-case one’s digital literacy skills, a space to develop an independent voice, but blogging is also space of dialogue – not merely a product of consumption. It this rich feature of dialogue that adds to a learner’s motivation as well as to their abilities in dealing with one form of digital literacy.
* Blogging as Dialogue – In a recent conversation with John Goldsmith (@cyberjohn07 and author of De Tools of the Trade) John expressed how being a blogger is often an act of  bearing  the loneliness of the long-distance writer as there is seldom any immediate feedback. If, on the one hand, I too understand how time is never enough and that,  I too, so often read a blog but fail to contribute a comment (and let me be honest – I read many, many blogs; I simply don’t have sufficient time to comment on all of them, despite appreciating every single one!), adding a comment to a blog posting, contributing to the open dialogue is an essential skill of blogging practice. Again, even though our learners may be digitally connected, providing constructive feedback, opening inquiry, adding to dialogue – whether their personal voice in an opinion/reflection, or related more closely to their studies and curriculum, these are skills which need to be tapped into and honed in.  Effective digital collaboration comes with practice, while open dialogue leads to further learning and critical thinking.
goldfish swimming in a fishbowl
Learning is  knowing how to face winds of change.
Learning is leaving the fishbowl, swimming confidently in open seas of change and life.
Classroom learning in safety leads to living more confidently, more securely in today’s digital world.
How do you see the role of social media developing in classroom practices?