Alison Campbell asserts that “While there are some risks entailed in blogging, mainly to do with issues of personal privacy, blogs can also offer significant learning opportunities around the learning outcomes for the Nature of Science strand of the New Zealand Science curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007). This requires that students ‘come to appreciate that while scientific knowledge is durable, it is also constantly re-evaluated in the light of new evidence… learn how scientists carry out investigations, and… come to see science as a socially valuable knowledge system. They learn how science ideas are communicated and to make links between scientific knowledge and everyday decisions and actions.” (p.25)
“From an educational perspective, perhaps an even more significant difference between blogging and the medium of print [than the blog’s use of the interconnected nature of the internet, via hyperlinks] is that a blog will usually allow for comments on each post, which can progress to in-depth discussion of the science involved by both commenters and the blog’s author. In some cases such discussion is actively encouraged by the authors as a means of testing ideas or seeking evaluation of puzzling data.
…In other words, not only can a blog provide a window into scientific discovery almost as it happens, but this electronic means of communication may also reflect ‘the practice of [scientists] in which a hypothesis is generated, analysed (or reviewed), followed by a new hypothesis, and so on.'” (p.25)
“However,” Campbell continues, “it is not necessary for students to be passive recipients of the information presented on science blogs – there is a lot of learning to be had from having students write their own, perhaps as an alternative to a hard copy report for an internally-assessed Achievement Standard. What’s more, not only are they publishing their own work, but their blogs can also be used to ‘talk’ with others about a group assignement and to review the work of others.” (p.25) Campbell has found that some students are more likely to express an opinion in such a forum than they are in the classroom, but notes that “It’s best to lay out rules relating to ‘netiquette’ before beginning the blogging process with your class.” (p.25) She also notes that “Before you initiate this process, it’s essential to decide why you want your students to blog, or to access the blogs of others. As Brownstein & Klein (2006) comment, ‘[e]ducational blogs often fail due to a lack of focus.'” (p.25)
“Yes,” she concludes, “this sort of activity s an additional impost on teachers’ time; there is always a trade-off. But the potential of blogging to enhance student engagement, participation, communication skills, and understanding of science is significant – and surely worth investigating in the Internet age, when information is only a mouse-click away and the need to educate students on assessing and discussing the reliability of that information has never been greater.” (p.26)
Campbell reccommends www.wordpress.com or www.blogger.com as blog sites, and suggests NZ’s http://sciblogs.co.nz (different from USA’s http://scienceblogs.com ) as well as www.talkingteaching.wordpress.com
Campbell’s article got me wondering how blogs would aid us to incorporate narrative assessments… as feedback by way of comments… by guiding the discussions taking place and the thinking being generated… I’m wondering…
It also got me wondering again why we put such an emphasis on the writing of essays in scholastic assessment… yes they are a useful genre to be proficient in, but these days there are many other ways of communicating effectively that ought to be promoted in schools!!! this issue of NZ Science Teacher demonstrates that over and over with reference to the numerous ways professional scientists are required to communicate!
Ref: Alison Campbell (2012) blogging and the nature of science New Zealand Science Teacher 129, pp.25-26
Reference is also made to: Brownstein, E & Klein R (2006) Blogs: applications in science education. Journal of college Science Teaching, 35(6), 18-22, Churchill, D (2009) Educational applications of Web 2.0: using blogs to support teaching and learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40(10), 179-183; Guzey, SS, & Roehrig, GH (2009) Teaching Science with technology: case studies of science teachers’ development of technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge. Contemporary issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1), 25-45