Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The pros and cons of blogs by Illya

The Pros...
- blogs offer real reading material from real writers, thus reflecting the language actually used
- blogs reflect current topics and there will certainly be a blog for every interest group
- Ts and Ss can negotiate choice of blogs to read for discussion, written work, etc
- Blogs can offer access to the culture(s) of the countries where the language is spoken
- Writing for a real readership may motivate learners to edit and rewrite their work, thus improving their writing skills
- Some learners may find the technical aspect motivating and inspiring

The Cons...
- The level of writing is often not a good model for language learners to read
- Reading on a screen while scrolling does not help to develop some of the reading skills
- Texts are not graded to readers’ levels
- May be difficult to filter out useful material from the huge bank of blogs
- Some learners may feel intimidated when writing for a public readership
- Most blog-types cannot be corrected by teacher, thus bad writing habits may be developed
- Without broadband, viewing or publishing blogs may be extremely time-consuming
- Technological aspect may frighten some learners

Take you time to share your comments and reasons to support your views on this topic



carla said...

Dear Illya,

Your chart is really complete! I agree with your pros and cons, and in the disadvantages you considered something that we should discuss more overtly. The fact that the students' writing may have lots of mistakes, for it is not a place that we will be correcting students'writing mistakes... Well, my adult students love to blog, but they don't like to have mistakes in their writing. Some of them send me an email with their messages for me to check them first. Good strategy, but extra work!

I love to blog with them in the computer lab, for we can deal with their mistakes before they submit their posts, and it is a good moment to include other helpful webtools like online dictionaries, google checking, etc...

However, when they are at home, they blog and the mistakes are there, but even so I think it is worthwhile! I tell them blogging is a time for free thinking and free writing. Sometimes I print their posts and we work on the language problems, but when we blog our focus is on the content and that's when I'm always praising them for taking the risk of writing for an external audience, expressing themselves, and practicing their English meaningfully!

A lot of food for thought...


Silvana said...

Dear Carla,
I agree that the focus of blogs is to transmit content.However,as we need to foster accuracy, i agree that there are several ways of going about it. The other day, itook down many of the mistakes I spotted andwe had a session of error analysis in class. I believe that the benefits of blogging are too many to keep away from them for the sake of mistakes.
I also do the double job of checking their work by email beforehand but the result is rewarding.

Dennis said...

Apologies, everyone, for being SO late.After getting lost in Enschede.... :-)

Reading your list of pros and cons, I was thinking that with many internet tools a useful approach is to master the tool, if you have enough faith to think it MIGHT be useful, and then start thinking about/discussing how it could relevantly be used in the classroom. In the end I think that's more open-ended than deciding an application probably can't be used. Dennis

Dennis said...

Silvana and all LWC bloggers,

I've always been interested in the issue of correction of written work. That's hardly surprising since in a long career I must have marked enough meters of written text to encircle the globe at least once!
There are at least two points here I'd say:
- Motivation and (versus) accuracy
- Blogs for accuracy or motivation and fluency

Illya suggest from the beginning that blogs are not ideal for dealing with accuracy ('mistakes').

Carla is proactive and deals with accuracy by pre- email - a draft blog entry.

The usual answer to dealing with accuracy is to bring in peer-editing, and multiple drafts.

I think if blogs can be used to get learners writing, though - preferably going on to projects involving other writers (preferably, again, in the context of a school exchange)interst in what they are writing, and cooperative editorial processes will result in more permanent improvement than straightforward ocrrection. (See all Bee's work and Dekita). Dennis

Claudia Bellusci said...

This never-ending issue of fluency versus accuracy may have as many sides as teachers and students out there.
I agree with Dennis that straightforward correction is no use and peer-correction and editing should be preferred. But the teacher shouldn't be altogether away from the process. He/she should pick up and comment on some of the most relevant and recurrent errors, especially when they lead to misunderstanding. I guess correction in a blog context doesn't have the same connotation as correction of ordinary written work, where its only outcome is marking. Correction of students'blog posts should help them improve their work and show the best of themselves. I think this would increase their self-confidence and motivate them to go on writing.

Silvana said...

This discussion regardingaccuracy and fluency is as it has been said here never ending but I agree with Claudia that although we decide to act on accuracy,the reason is different from that in an ordinary classroom task.There is a real audience which althoughthsi audience is interested in the message and not in the form, we feel commited to do our best so students will start caring for being accurate!!!

Illya said...

I see I've been missing out an a very interesting and relevant discussion while away having fun. Just to add another element to the discussion, there are in fact blogs where posts can be edited -does anyone know which ones allow this???.
This option may offer a possibility to focus on both; however, the question remains whether the writer would feel intimidated to write where others edit/correct their writing in an open forum.

Nahir said...

This discussion may have to do with the writing process. Do we tell students what the process is? Are students encouraged to follow it regularly in and out of class?

Stages as revision and editing are important for self-correction, and peer-revision is too. Once students internalize the role of revision, they may use it whenever it's needed.

Illya, I've used wordpress.com blogs. One of their features is that you can easily edit or delete posts when you are the owner.


Claudia Bellusci said...

Editing other people's posts can be certainly a very arguable issue. Unless they are offensive, I wouldn't do it. In the case of serious grammatical or spelling mistakes, I'd rather point them to the post author and suggest that he/she correct them.

Gladys Baya said...

Let me join in! I believe blogs are great for the publishing stage of the writing process, but aren't we forgetting that before work gets published teachers must have been supporting learners through all previous stages, including reviewing AND editing? I'm not afraid of the occasional "slip of the keyboard" here and there, but I wouldn't expect blogging to help my class meet all the aims of the writing lesson.
Have I made myself clear??? :-?

cheap computers said...

it is a good moment to include other helpful webtools like online dictionaries, google checking, etc...

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