Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Blogging Concerns of a Parent

Parry gets hundreds of emails a day and handles almost all of them personally. From time to time she forwards one to me. Recently she received a message from a concerned parent. Her son's middle school had sent home a notice that they were going to some of their students bogging on Classblogmeister.com. She was concerned about her son's use of the Internet to post his writing.

This is a concern I hear daily from parents and teachers. I previously addressed concerns about social networking in Over reaction to Social Networking and Is MySpace a Train Wreck. In this post, I'll offer you the response I sent to the concerned parent.

First let me ease your mind about the site. It is run and created by David Warlick. I know him very well and he is one of the leading educators in the nation. The site is set up with student safety and privacy at the forefront. It is set up so that all of the postings are under the teacher's control. The postings password protected and are not public. The student accounts are created and controlled by your son's teacher. He gets to see anything and everything before it is posted and it is only available for reading and comment by people the teacher okays (usually classmates or other other classes the teacher may be collaborating with on Classblogmeister). He also has complete control over the content and can edit or delete. As far as safe blogging goes, it is probably one of, if not the safest blogging site on the web.

As far as blogging in education goes, it is my opinion that it is one of the most powerful tools available for developing writing skills in students. Keep in mind, more than 1/3 of all teens online already have personal blogs of some sort. A large number of them are at social networking sites and kids are using them without proper instruction. I fell is it important for teachers to model proper, effective, efficient and responsible blogging so that kids can learn the proper way to use this important journalistic tool.

With all that said, it is up to the teacher to use it properly with the class. While am a strong supporter of blogging in education, know David, and Classblogmeister, I don't know your son's teacher. However, I do know quite a few teachers who use his site and are doing a commendable job, both because they are modeling responsible online communication and they are putting in a lot of time and effort to do so. Setting up and managing a blogging environment for students is no easy task and it is very time consuming. All of the teacher I know using the site are very dedicated.

Finally, just visit David Warlick's blog and ask yourself whether you would want your son learning from this model or the blogs of his peers who are not getting guidance from a teacher.

I hope that helps.


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