Friday, May 27, 2011

INST 4015 Blog Assignment: Educational Blogs

For my assignment this week I'm supposed to review and analyze several educational blogs.

The first one from the list was called Collaborative Class Blog and is run by Brian Crosby and his 5th grade class. It has links to the class's other online activities such as the wiki, links to other blogs they follow, and a list of entries and participants. It seems a little cluttered and busy, given all that information, but I'm sure for the purposes of the class and their collaboration it's handy to have all that information in one place.

The most recent post is titled "What Do You Think Will Happen?" and it talks about a scientific experiment involving air pressure. Not only is the project fun and kinesthetic, but the blog entry encourages all who read it (whether they're in the class or not) to share their own hypotheses about what will happen as the different items are lifted into the air by a high altitude balloon. This level of inclusion is just what the internet is capable of; if only more teachers and classes would use it this way!

The 2M Gems Blog is maintained by, you guessed it, the 2M Gems. I'm not sure if this is the name of a class or an academic club at their school, or what. Based on the material I read, they seem to be a younger group of students; it's exciting to technology being incorporated into education like this, but having said that, I must say that one item of technology seemed to detract from the readability of the blog. In the entry "WHERE IN THE WORLD ARE BAYS?" a program called lino is used to compile and present the material. Consisting of apparently randomly placed text boxes and images much like on a bulletin board, it requires the viewer to drag the "board" around within the window in order to see everything. This makes it hard to absorb and process the material, and while I'm not sure with the full capabilities of lino, I don't know if it's a good tool for this kind of collaboration.

One blog that attracted my attention in my search is called Moving at the Speed of Creativity. It's run by an educator named Wesley Fryer, and it highlights events or projects he's discovered in his own searches through Education circles. One post he made is about a class in Oklahoma who made a music video celebrating the purchase of 4G iPods. Their video clearly demonstrates the incorporation of learning on many levels, from the creativity involved with writing lyrics to the efforts involved in choregraphing and filming a video. Another entry focused in on a single student-- Fryer's daughter, incidentally-- as she digitized a portfolio of written material she'd been compiling since first grade by reciting the material into a microphone. Fryer mentioned that at least her grandparents would be interested in hearing her recital, but I think that immortalizing the material with her own expressive voice can even be an inspiration and legacy for students in future generations.

The second section of this blog assignment involves following blogs through RSS (Really Simple Syndication). Since I already have a blogger account, and another blog, there are come blogs I already follow on RSS: Furahan Biology and Allied Matters and This Orb. However, since these are only peripherally associated with education, and the assignment points out that I should subscribe to two new blogs, here they are: Resources for Teachers and Graham Wegener's Open Educator. I look forward to taking a step deeper into the field of education by more closely following those who share the same interest/profession.