Blogging to Basics: How Blogs Are Bringing Online Education Back From The Brink
So, first thing’s first: online education is not doing so hot. Why? Well, because the way it is performed lacks efficiency. I can see why. In the online learning world there s no communication. There is no face-to-face discussion of the topics at hand. If you’ve never taken an online class before compare it to the “talking head” professor who sits at the front of the classroom or lecture and, well, lectures. Don’t get me wrong, I take the best notes when there is a lecture; however when that professor is using the same pencil-on-paper notes she’s been using since the 1980s, there’s something wrong there.
Authentic thinking, thinking that is concerned about reality, does not take place in ivory tower isolation, but only in communication. (Freire 1970)
How do you get a bunch of adults into the same virtual space and communicating? The discussion board formed the type of educational interaction online classes needed.
Yes, there are pitfalls to this gilded plan. First of all, when you ask a question you’d prefer an immediate answer, right? With discussion boards, sometimes there is no one even there to answer you so you’re forced to wait…and wait… and wait… until finally someone else in your class or your professor checks the page to see if anyone was trying to cry for help. If anyone cares enough to, so to speak. I mean if you post a question of a response and it doesn’t get at least one hit within a day or two even you start to lose interest. If after two days or so someone finally interact with your comment, you may take a few days to respond to that and thus your “conversation” is dictated over an entire week (meaning a perfectly efficient waste of your time).
Secondly, there is a distinct lack of social presence as well thus the digital signature came to be. For instance, in my middle school days (seventh to ninth grade) I thought it was perfectly acceptable to end every Facebook status update with “:DD”. Oh, how wrong I was but hey, it was something, like a crude trademark of sorts.
The saddest part about all of this is that discussion boards are the best the online learning community can throw out there: e-mail is bad for reference and wikis have little to no communication involved. Discussion boards give the best of both worlds although they tend to make the focus more on the space in which the group of individuals are learning rather than the individuals themselves.
BOOM. THEN COMES BLOG INTERVENTION.
Blogs redirect the educational focus back to the individual. Courses like this Weblogs and Wikis class create an atmosphere where the creative and the logical balance one another out. Normally I’d ignore any reference to MySpace.com however the book has a point. Myspace provided that creative outlet of ideas as well as that sense of virtual identity. With customizable backgrounds as well as unlimited sparkly images of Disney princesses, any person could take their hobbies and smear them all over their very own internet page! It was fantastic until people got st00pid and changed MySpace into a teenager abduction site.