Saturday, January 22, 2005

If I start it, will they come?

I've been thinking long and hard about the idea of incorporating blogging into teaching...loooong and hard. Here's my issue. I live in Switzerland, a place where being reserved is a national sport. Expression isn't looked upon as a good thing.

Remember, I'm an expat from the American South, so I *may* be overgeneralizing here.:-)

Most of my students are IT folks from the banking and insurance industries. It's hard enough to get them to fight through the layers of shyness brought on by their culture, jobs, and personalities and express themselves in their class. How in the world can I expect them to blog? How do I help them get over the fear of expression?

Also, there have been instances where people have lost their jobs for blogging. Should I help my students start blogs anonymously? What are the possibilities of creating a protected environment? Is it up to me to ease their fears?



Blogger aiden said...

Hi Rashunda,

Hmm,it's hard to think of solutions if there's a threat associated with using blogs that's being posed at your students. We don't want them to lose their jobs. But here's an idea, you could use blogs like the way we are using it now- building a community of practice. Use it like a forum where the topics would first be limited to expression of ideas concerning theories and applications of the IT industry. You must be very careful though and remind your students not to reveal anything that would jeopardize their work. I hope this helps.


2:29 AM  
Blogger Rashunda said...

Aiden wrote:

"Use it like a forum where the topics would first be limited to expression of ideas concerning theories and applications of the IT industry."

I'm trying to get them over the fear of expressing themselves in general. Also, I didn't mean that they had the threat of losing their jobs. I meant that there have been instances in the US news about people losing their jobs. I wouldn't want that to happen.

9:46 AM  
Blogger elderbob - the blog boss said...

You know, one of the beautiful things about blogs is that if enough of us blog, then it becomes much more difficult for a higher power to read every message. I suppose you could argue that you could set up some sort of search bot to look for certain words or phrases, but as you can see from spammers, mispelling a word or two can get you around those.

I don't think blogging can be stopped. I think there will be many attempts to maintain control by various groups, but the internet itself, seems to spring from a desire for pure free expression and so far, it hasn't been successfully stopped (and I don't beleive that it can).

So if your students need to set up anon accounts, so be it. If I am right about our desire to express ourselves in an open and unemcumbered fashion, then we will find some way to get around suppression in any form. Only time can judge the results in the long run. I doubt that anyone on this list can predict today, what your students will blog about anymore than we can predict what will happen to them because of what they post.

Lets meet back here in a year to see how the issue has been dealt with, and then again five years after...and so on. Eventually, blogging will be replaced with something better (though that may be difficult to do)

Best of luck to all bloggers everywhere.

ebob - still expressing himself

3:22 PM  
Blogger A Joubert said...

Surely those job losses were due to non-job-related blogging at the workplace at a time when they should have been working, wouldn't you think?
Just a comment; perhaps I read too quickly but I didn't get the impression that that was the supposed reason.
I'm an expat from California.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Pete MacKichan said...

I wonder how suitable a blog might be for people working in IT. I know I feel that I don't want to have anything to do with computers after I finish work - I spend enough time staring at computer screens. I don't know whether other people might feel the same?

As far as encouraging expression, I think Blogs might actually be a bit intimidating. First of all there are cases where people have been sacked for blogging - a case has been in the news in the UK recently. If these stories have been in the press in Switzerland then they are likely to be a bit reluctant. But also blogging is publishing - postings are for public consumption. That can be pretty intimidating. One idea might be to make your blog private, so that only people with a password can access it.

Doing anonymous text chat can be a good way of getting learners to express themselves. Learners can log on with any name they like, which means no-one knows who they are. And the fact that chat is closer to conversation than text, means that it is more immediate. You could even do some anonymous text chat role plays / simulations (Freeman & Capper 1999
But of course it depends on how keen they are on using computers to learn.


9:25 AM  
Blogger Bruna said...

I understand about not wanting to reveal too much online. Aidan's suggestion of a community of practice is a good one yet it can be intimidating depending on your industry. How about a blog based upon a "community of fun." What do your students like to do? I'm quite sure a quick survey would determine some common interests. You'd probably have some experts in some areas. Then there may be some students who would love advice from those experts. Let's see if I were in Switzerland, I would think a "commumity of fun" blog could revolve around chocolate (!!), winter sports, other sports, travel in general, the arts, then there is always the local stuff like favorite restaurants, hiking trails, etc.

Tapping into people's passions and introducing them to the magic of technology and how it contributes to their passions is fun!! And if your students are having fun they just happen to also be learning...but that's a secret. LOL

6:31 PM  

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