Blogs. Instagram. Selfies. Generation Narcissist.

Linda Rubens has been teaching English for 24 years and joined Orewa College six years ago. She soon realised that she had to ramp up her technology skills in order to keep up with developments in teaching and learning styles. In 2012 Linda was appointed dean of year 9 and helped lead the pastoral side of the BYOD programme. Linda focuses on a differentiated programme in her classroom.

Are we obsessed with taking the perfect selfie? Ellen Degeneres seems to think so. Do we regularly check our Instagram and Twitter followers? We sure do. How about blogs? Is WordPress the new Facebook?

Hell no. Blog is the latest four letter word. The playground expletive. Sound it out loud Miranda Hart style. BLOG. It does sound rather dirty doesn’t it? That is if you are an old-school, set-in-your-ways, back-in-the-day-we-would-NEVER-share-ideas type teacher.

But in the inimitable words of Bob Dylan, “The times they are a- changing“. And with it so does the way we express ourselves. What does this mean for our students? And what about our role as teachers? The answer is simple. Students now have the opportunity to develop digital portfolios that are media rich and connect them globally. And if they use WordPress and create categories, they have a ‘go to’ place for all their subjects.

And teachers can share their experiences. Successes. Failures. Aspirations.

 

Blogging guidelines for teachers

Don’t overuse blogging

Exercise too much and you get an injury. Eat too much and you get unhealthy. Blog too much and you get bored.

Don’t reply to every blogpost

Blogs are great for giving verbal feedback. Get students to take your verbal feedback and put that onto their blogs. Start with “My teacher said that…” In that way they reflect on their work in consultation with you, and put it in their own words. Then at the end of the process you can take time to leave comments on the final product.

Choose carefully what students blog

A concept, then the process, lastly the final product would be good. To get them to blog about reflections about how a lesson went, or what they understood about a lesson is boring.

 

Blogging guidelines for students

  • Blogging centralises work. No need to go through a number of avenues to submit media rich work. Best is that links are live so work is constantly updated.
  • Digital portfolios are available as students progress through school. Many subjects build on assessments done in previous years.
  • Blogs allow for cross curricular work.
  • Work is available globally. So if a student leaves the school, or even the country, work is still available in its published state.
  • If a device is lost, stolen, broken, work is not lost. Blogs can be accessed from any device. Anywhere.
  • Transparency : work is available for both teachers and parents to view and comment on.
  • Time and date stamped. This is vital for some assessments where the criteria states that work must be done under supervision. The time and date stamp helps teachers and students keep track of this.
  • Setting up separate categories can be tricky for some. Continual use of a blog site is however easy.
  • Treat blogs similarly to Facebook. Do you post every thought, photo, experience in your life on FB? No. You showcase important ideas and experiences. Do you only and exclusively use FB? No. You use many sites in addition to FB. Blogging should be no different. Work in your chosen way. But publish to your blog.
  • Evidence. When applying for part time work, students say they are “hard working and diligent” or “passionate about…” What better way to give evidence than through a link to a blog? It is the way journalists worldwide are working.

 

So are we facing a generation of narcissists, busy reflecting on their latest selfie? Perhaps. But we are also nurturing reflection of work, self evaluation and global connectivity.

Apologies to Dylan for ending with the lyrics of ‘#Selfie’ by The Chainsmokers:

Can you guys help me pick a filter?
I don’t know if I should go with XX Pro or Valencia
I wanna look tan
What should my caption be?
I want it to be clever
How about “Livin’ with my bitches, hash tag LIVE”
I only got 10 likes in the last 5 minutes
Do you think I should take it down?
LET ME TAKE ANOTHER SELFIE

 

Feature image courtesy of Flickr, WarmSleepy.