The Strength of Weak Ties

Everyone participates. Everyone contributes. Leveraging the power of digital networks to connect people, resources and ideas to drive creativity and innovation forward...and actually accomplish something!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Impending Death of Blogging As We Know It

I've been surprised about recent comments made about the impending death of blogs due to their potential incorporation into Learning (or course) Management Systems such as Blackboard.


I'm a big supporter of Blackboard, and not ashamed to admit it. We've had it our high school district for about a year and a half. Before Blackboard, we had less than 100 teachers with a Web presence (We have 407 teachers). In a year, we have well over 250 steady users, with an additional group being added during a staff development session tomorrow night. Our teachers have used the discussion boards with great success, have used the tool to communicate with our school community in a much more effective way, and are constantly using the tool in new and creative ways (such as peer to peer evaluation of original MIDI music creations) to leverage learning in an online environment.

Having tools such as blogs and wikis incorporated into Blackboard, either available from the system itself or through a building block, gives us the advantage of protecting students within the password protected Blackboard system. I have to do this and refuse to apologise to anyone about this because it is the first question anyone asks when we start talking about publishing digitally. With blogs and wikis in Blackboard, we can use such tools to teach kids how to do it right. Surprisingly, informal polls of our students indicate that they simply do not know much about blogging-all the more reason to develop a program that helps them understand the importance of blogging, RSS, and all the other tools available to them to access information and ideas.

Once students get a feel and understanding for what blogs are and the capability they deliver, who is to stop them from going to Blogger to get their own blog? For us, having this capability within Blackboard would help our students understand the tool; my prediction would be that it could only ultimately increase the number of our students blogging on their own.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Next Great Medium

Many of the feeds I get into my aggregrator on a daily basis talk about the enormous capability of RSS, Furl, etc. to deliver information to the desktop, and potentially, the desktop of our students. I'm also amazed at the ability of individuals to take the ideas of others and repurpose those into fresh insights relative to their context. Of course, these capabilities are changing how we view the very nature of information literacy. Yet, we also must be concerned about a new emerging literacy-multimedia literacy. At the heart of this new literacy is the process of digital storytelling-the ability to take a personal story, add voice, video, imagery and music to create a truly compelling message that can be shared online. To explore this process in more detail, I've created a new blog entitled The Competitive Voice, which will discuss issues central to the idea that students have compelling stories, and will need a competitive voice in a media-centric world.