Sunday, January 15, 2012

10 reasons why I believe students should blog

Wordle: BloggingJust recently, this school year I started to encourage my students into blogging. My students' average age ranges 15-17; I do consider them mature enough to create a positive digital footprint through blogging. When I first introduced the idea to them I gave some reasons why I thought they should blog. One of the things I did tell them was to think about blogging as a Facebook post except that with more than 420 characters. As the whole process started to take place, new advantages started to unravel and now I would love to share with you my ten reasons why I believe your students should be blogging:

1. It helps students think global.
I deliver classes in a bilingual school.  This is a kind of school in which subjects are taught in two different languages (country's native and mostly English).  My students are required to post in English (with special exceptions).  Your audience increases when you blog in English, since this is practically the world's second language, pretty much like Greek in biblical times.  Knowing that their audience is potentially so diverse and multi-cultural, encourages students to being sensitive to a global audience.  When they type they realize that if they report their height in meters, for example, not everyone in the world thinks in meters so they include feet in parenthesis.  In short words, they have a sense of global responsibility.

2. It indirectly improves students' grammar and spelling.
This is especially true for ESL students.   My students are all taking English as a second language.  Being aware of how exposed they are to the world through their writing, drives them to take special interest in their grammar and spelling.  Remember how hard it has been to encourage the use of the dictionary on your students?  While typing a post, they will have a translator (in the case of ESL students) and a dictionary online without anyone telling them!

3. A view of visitors to one's blog is pretty stimulating.
Almost all blogging services include stats that inform audience's country and frequent visits.  Think about how stimulating it is for your students when they see they got visitors from other countries-from places they are not even allowed to pronounce! (Ok, I copied that line from "The Pacifier", credited)  Yes, I know that the blog only registers a view of the page and not if the visitor actually read the post, but this does not take away the excitement, at all. This kind of visualizations give students a better perspective of how global they can be.

4. Responsible digital and world citizenship.
Students feel compelled into posting valuable and sensitive content. With the proper instruction and guidance, students will produce this kind of content and deliver positive messages into their world auidence.  They will feel the pressure of being responsible with what they express and how they express it.

5. Stimulates critical thinking.
One purpose of a blog is to express one's opinion about a certain topic. And why not, being controversial about something, without being rude or disrespectful. This is a perfect opportunity for students to express their ideas and hone their critical thinking skills.

6. Enhances web-creating skills.
I've had the opportunity to sit back and listen to professional bloggers discuss about the importance of interface appeal. Font size, paragraphing, pictures, size of post, contrast, a nice balance of widgets, pop-outs, music, etc. are all factors that influence the number of visitors to a blog. Keeping this in mind, students will improve their skills on presenting material and even convey this to the classroom.  With this I mean that their presentations for any class might improve in quality of content and display.  On creating blogs, and adding widgets especially, students get the hang of html basics, important skills on the 21st century.

7. Fosters creativity and artistry
As a cross-curricular plus to blogging, students realize how important the visual appeal of a finished work is.  This increases their creativity and fosters their artistry.  Blogging services provide interesting templates that students can accomodate to meet their interests and likes.  There are certain rules of contrast and color matching that they should meet though.  Art teacher could be very helpful here.

8. Positive digital footprint
We all have probably read our teenage students´ posts on Facebook.  I have found very interesting posts or tweets from them.  On the other hand, I have seen Facebook posts such as: ":(".  This is the digital footprint most teenagers are leaving behind them.  Blogging provides students the opportunity to leave behind a positive, engaging, and productive digital footprint.  As all the above criteria are met by them, the information they are leaving in the cloud will speak to their favor presently and in the future.

9. Blogging develops collaboration skills.
One important skill kids should learn about blogging is to give positive, substantial and honest feedback to each other through commenting.  This becomes a powerful source of collaboration as students reply to each other, establish connections, and follow on and engage in threads.  This might also happen with commentators from any other part of the world.  Imagine all the enriching opportunity in your students engaged into great conversations with people with so diverse cultures and points of views.

10. A blog could represent a nice cover letter when applying for a job.
I love this one particularly.  It is a well-know statistic that our students, in their majority at least, will be covering spots in work places that do not exist yet.  I truly believe that when the time comes in which they show up with their résumé seeking a job, an existing and active blog will be a very important part of this résumé.  Teenagers could even use online services to post their career achievements and embed into their blogs.  This will say a lot about their sense of organization and achievement and deliver the best impression on employers.

I encourage you to provide your students with the opportunity to start creating a positive digital content through blogging.  Guide them and help them through.  One important aspect is to discuss with them about online safety.  Kids already love interacting and engaging in social media.  As teachers, we are given the opportunity to turn this enthusiasm into something truly productive and fun.

Can you think of another reason why you believe students should blog?  Share it with me, please.

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