There’s No Place Like HomeOctober 5, 2009 at 9:41 pm | Posted in uncategorized | 1 Comment
(post authored by Mary Vosburg)
Literacy is constantly changing. Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and photo streams point the way to the future of communication. What was once spoken in class is now written down in the digital world. However, some people fear that new technology will seduce kids away from books. But do online discussions promote literacy?
In the article “Blogging is History: Taking Classroom Discussions Online,” the story of an AP American history teacher was told. In 2006, Eric Langhorst had his students read Guerrilla Season, by Pat Hughes. Instead of solely discussing this book in class, he setup an online blog book group. His 300+ students could all discuss this book 24/7. Not only were his students allowed in blog, but also parents of the students. Each week, Langhorst posted several discussion questions. Students were encouraged to make their own posts along with commenting on other student’s posts. This online discussion allowed students to openly express their thoughts and opinions without the structure and time restrictions of the classroom. Students were reading the thoughts of other students instead of listening to them. The students gained a good understanding of the book through reading and responding to other people’s comments.
Online discussion allows students to interact with classmates outside class. There is no set time or fixed space for students in an online discussion. Students can log on at any time and from any Internet-enabled computer. A successful online discussion has the same effect of group or in-class discussion. The conversation should build on the students’ perspectives to gain a deeper understanding of the materials.
Clarence Fisher, a Canadian teacher, produced an informative video/podcast (http://k12onlineconference.org/?p=50) that is worth viewing. It documents where literacy has been and where it is going. Literacy in the classroom will come in the form of many web 2.0 tools (wikis, blogs, digital photos, etc.). He also believes we need to teach students about options they have for producing content. How do they learn to choose an effective medium in the midst of so many possibilities?
Online classroom discussions allow every student to participate in the class without being forced to come up with an immediate response. Some students need time to think before responding. Online discussions allow those students more time to think. Moreover, online discussions allow students to participate in classroom discussion even on days that they do not have that class. Since discussions are text-based, students can easily save entire conversations and access them at a later time. Many times when I have been in class a thought about a particular conversation does not come to me until hours later. This form of communication allows those thoughts to be expressed and discussed.
There are a couple questions that come to mind when thinking about adding online class discussions to my class. Do all of my students have access to the internet? If not, what should I do then? How can I make sure that students are doing background readings? These questions are things teachers need to consider before adding online class discussions. I believe it is the future of the classroom to go online for certain sections of the class. More and more information is being found on the web instead in hard copy articles. Giving students the ability to express their opinions on certain topics online at home it the future of classrooms. After all, there is no place like home to do some school work.