Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Blogging, pedagogy, and learner differences

As a participant in the weblogging group in EVO 2005, these last ten days have a been both a revelation and a total adrenaline rush. It's been a non-stop "'s the party...look at all the cool people and conversations!"

And one of the most fascinating conversations is at Barbara Ganley's blog. Her combination of enthusiasm, insight, and practical examples is Good Stuff. And when it comes to using blogs with learners, BG walks the talk.

Good Stuff example: BG links to H├ęctor J. Vila's blog Media Inquiry, where there is a comment by Carl Berger responding the question of how to integrate blogs into more traditional teaching. Carl worries that

it favors the typing literate rather than the vocal literate inordinately.

Boom. Showstopper for me: we can't forget the differences among learners and learning styles. We have to focus on, respect and validate the individuality in each learner. There is a danger with something as new, amazing, and revolutionary as learner blogs: that in our rush towards the New World we leave some learners behind. Following Aaron's mantra "pedagogy before technology" means that we must go beyond learner-centered (e.g. blogs) to individual-centered learning (e.g. blogs as a tool in our toolkit, and a more appropriate tool for some learners than for others).

I think of Juana, a student I worked with a couple of years ago in an intermediate level business English program. As a communicator, she was simply amazing; within minutes of meeting her you were talking with her as though you had been best friends forever. But this wasn't a result of her ability with words -speaking, reading or writing- in her L2 English or her L1 Spanish. It was that she had a special listening ability where she read your body language using some sort of kinesthetic empathy. It was her gift, but how would she practice her gift via CMC? As a teacher, how should I accomodate that gift in an OLE or blended learning environment?

(Actually, I can think of various ways. The point is: I have to remember to ask the question!)


At January 27, 2005 at 6:44 PM, Blogger aaron said...

I couldn't agree more with you: blogs favor certain learning styles and should seen as one tool amongst many. There is, though, a growing trend amongst bloggers to start incorporating more photos, video, sound, tags, social networking tools, etc. into their webpublishing and online communicative activities. Even the term 'blogging', for me, has taken on a new connotation recently. I forsee the impending death of the blog as we know it right around the corner. As these tools come together, they will provide the user with a much better degree of flexibility and customization than what is currently available, thus rendering the medium more hostpitable for learners of different styles. Perhaps learning environments of the future will indeed become more 'individual centered', so that learners like Juana won't be left out. I guess my point is...the term 'blogging' is perhaps too closely associated with the use of text and writing, and what our activities are moving towards is a more holistic integretion of the various means of communicating.

At January 30, 2005 at 4:52 PM, Blogger Nathan Lowell said...

Let's also not overlook that research that says pandering to a prefered mode results in lower levels of outcome -- not higher.

Gavrial Solomon's work in the 70s showed that students who used media they did not prefer worked harder and because of the increased effort had better outcomes.

At January 30, 2005 at 8:16 PM, Blogger Cleve said...

Thanks for that Nathan - I'm going to check it's totally new to me.


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