Monday, November 26, 2007

Why Teach About Blogs and Blogging?

Note: Visit my education blog, The Green Cup.

Blogging is a literary form. It has become very much a genre in its own right. It’s a growing genre, an influential genre, and it is genre that we need to acquaint students with at an early age.

The word “blog” is a shortened for of the word weblog. The “we” gets amputated from the front of the word. That word formation process is just one example of the new level of creativity that online writing brings to our language.

Blogging has become for literature today something like what keeping a diary was in the 18th and 19th centuries. But not exactly. On the one hand, a blog can be private and personal. On the other hand, it can be designed to promote an opinion, a perspective, or to give advice – to the point of being commercial. It can be closed, accessible only to people you allow to see it. Or it can be very public, easily accessible.

Because blogs have become so numerous and influential, it’s important that students be aware of them and have some understanding of how to evaluate a blog. The skill of discerning fact from opinion is more important now than it has ever been. It’s important that students have some idea of how to find a blog if they want to look at one. Google, for example, has a special search engine that only searches websites it classifies as blogs. And, finally, it is important that students know how to create a blog for themselves if they want to – and that they understand the privacy issues and the liabilities that come with setting themselves up with a blog at a site like MySpace or FaceBook.

I personally think that digital self-expression is a wave of the future that could revive and regenerate the skill of composition in our language. Blogs have a profound impact on literacy in America and we need to be sure our kids are positively impacted by that…

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