Candice Oliver

Blogging and Education

When computers made their way into the realm of education Molnar (1997) states that it had two very important functions: to communicate the culture, its values and multiple lessons from the past but also to prepare children for the future that they will be living in.

The MacArthur Foundation White Paper is a solid foundation for the synthesis I have written based on student use of blogs. It explores the aspect of “geeking out” which is the vital thing that occurs when youth are engaged in writing, reading or interacting with blogs.
Blogs are a form of this new media that has the capacity to share most forms of traditional media along with it being interactive through comments and used for social communication, other terms for it is “indymedia” or “citizen’s journalism”.

The literature review shows the benefits of blogging and how it can be integrated effectively into the classroom increasing students’ ability for higher order thinking, participation and collaboration even for the more reticent student. This is mostly due to its reach towards the world outside of the classroom where hobbyists and those who are experts in their fields can interact with the students and give their thoughts relevance.

To access statement of digital culture and full literature review download the assessment by clicking Files at the bottom right hand corner of the page.

“Cooking the Books of Learning” is a teacher created blog designed to encourage reflection, conversation and general geeking out about food, cooking and teaching. The main purpose of the blog is to “walk the walk” and to provide students with an exemplar so that they can feel more comfortable and engaged in using this digital media. When blogs are used and designed properly it allows interactions to occur outside of the classroom (Macbride & Luehman 2008) which has the potential to motivate students, to build online collaboration and enhance learning opportunities (Clyde 2005). Blogging also motivates students to become more engaged in reading, it requires them to think more deeply about the meaning of their writing and increases their chances of submitting quality work (Richardson 2005) as it is not just the teacher who ends up reading it but also anyone else in the digital world who happens to stumble upon the blog. This aspect of blogging makes it unique as it gives novices the opportunity to communicate with experts. It creates a participatory culture that does not place limits of creative expression through writing, speaking or acting and increases civic engagement as it encourages a supportive environment for sharing ideas (Nichols 2012). Through creating a participatory culture within the classroom through blogs there should be an increase in peer to peer learning, an understanding of intellectual property, an understanding of citizenship, the acquisition of modern workplace skills and diversified cultural expression.

The blog created is specifically for students, Food Technology/Hospitality/Home Economics teachers, cooking enthusiasts and Hospitality professionals. The blog posts are varied and are designed to encourage as much interaction as possible from its readers. The entries are conversational, informal and full of inquiry. Ideally, students will also be able to place blog posts of their own, journaling what occurs in their cooking lessons and what they took from it or what they learnt about food and cooking in their free time. It will essentially be a classroom generated textbook.

The blog was built using WordPress. This was deliberately chosen due to its ability to be easily accessible from all digital platforms: PC’s, iPads and mobile phones. It was also chosen for its ability to connect to social media. Connecting to social media attracts readers which will hopefully attract interaction from the targeted audience. The resource has been trialed with five blog entries. Feedback was gained through engaging other teachers and blog readers. According to the feedback the design of the blog is clean and uncluttered with a creative title which should engage an audience. Most liked the general idea of a cooking teacher’s blog as they had not come across one before and the informal “fun” tone used. They encouraged the use of more visuals, to keep videos to a minimum (five on one blog was seen to be excessive), to tidy up the writing so that it did not seem rushed and to keep writing short so that readers are able to see the entire screen without scrolling.

Click here to see the blog.