I think I mention this before but anyhow, lately I have been reading and writing a little bit about Wenger’s theory of community of practice and Jenkins’ participatory culture from a learning perspective in formal and informal settings. At the same time I am starting to engage in blogging in more consistent way and trying, yet slowly, to make some more meaningful analysis. I am not where I would like to be but I am enjoining and most importantly learning lots in the process of blogging.
Bartlett-Bragg’s article “Blogging to Learn Flexible Learning” does a fine job articulating blogging as an educational experience and the processes involved. Bartlett-Bragg and many other academics recognize the importance of drifting the education experience from the formal settings of the school to more personal and dynamics levels. Education should and I believe it can be perceive it as an activity outside formal settings. It is a common generalization or misinterpretation to assume that learning is an individual activity and that takes place in specific spaces such schools, institutes or other academic bodies. That been said, I don’t want to fall in the generalization that every activity is a practice of learning, though it can be. There has to be a process of internalization and reflection, a conscious process in where people are aware of what their engagement entail as learning. Rogers (2003) refers to this process as formalized learning – a learning process that enhances learning. Formalized learning is it not exclusive to formal education it happens in various places in our life.
Blogging entails a deep process of formalized learning, it pushes the student to think and reflect on what there are writing and hopefully feel passionate. So blog on something you feel passionate or it is meaningful! Start blogging for yourself, it takes a bit of time to be one and don’t think who or how many will be reading your blog to start off. Expand your imagination and reflect on what has been striking in your mind if your blog does not connect with you, it will be hard to find people that will feel that way. Soon enough you will communicate with a whole audience and hopefully you being one of them.
Bartlett-Bragg defines 5-stages of blogging in educational settings: 1 establishment, 2 introspective, 3 reflective monologues, 4 reflective dialogues and knowledge artefact. I found this hermetic and artificial separation useful to see where we might be standing. This is a quick recapitulation of her 5 prosed stages of blogging:
Stage 1 – Establishment
“Students set-up a blog and initiate the practice of recalling and recording learning events, paying attention to and expressing their feelings”.
Stage 2 – Introspection
“Students are encouraged to continue recording learning events, while starting to pay attention to their emotions and to start evaluating the experience. Some software challenges can still dominate the experience and often detract from the reflective process”
Stage 3 – Reflective Monologues
“Students start to become consciously aware of the full range of reflective process, from simply answering structured questions to considering the experience and extracting some meaning for further evaluation. The expression of emotions can alter considerably. The emotions now relate to the learning events and are not directed to the intended reader.
The writing appears to be for themselves, thus the naming of this stage as reflective monologue”.
Stage 4 – Reflective Dialogue
“Further encouragement towards a deeper reflective process requires the students to consider their style of expression, intended audience and publication of their thoughts. Students that reach this stage acquire a ‘voice’ or style of writing in the new genre that moves away from surface level reporting to personal knowledge publishing that exhibits a more considered writing style. Some students develop journalistic qualities in the reporting and opinions on their learning events and experiences”.
Stage 5 – Knowledge Artefacts
“Students move from personal knowledge publishing to reflecting on the knowledge learned and providing guidance to readers, who may use the knowledge to enhance their own experience and learning, as knowledge artefacts.
At this stage the students may start to read each others’ blogs and make comments in contrast or agreement – intentionally providing their experience and opinions as an opportunity for others to learn, so creating knowledge artefacts”.
From my own experience I think Bartlett-Bragg misses a very important stage that I would have named stage 0, reading stage. Stephen Downes points out how blogging is first about reading – reading what interests you. Reading blogs will teach you to develop a tone and style for this medium and will help you to know how connect and share your ideas with others.
Both reading and writing a blog is a cultural practice in a sense that it requires gaining an understating and knowledge of the practice in order to coexists. If we lack the literacy skills to construct a learning dialogue we shall fear to never get out of the reflective monologue and putting the survival of the blog at risk.
In my experience in blogging has helped to re-engage in some communities that I retired from such as Technorati or Twitter and join some new ones such a Digg. Yesterday 51 persons visited my blog, I know it does not sound a lot but it is for a student who started blogging a couple of weeks ago. Blogging is not only a mental reflective process is a tangible practice as well. Blogging is shapping my online behaviors and use of social networks. The way and reason why I use Twitter has changed since I started blogging allowing me to think what it means to produce a text to share with larger audiences.
Blogging reflects and connects concepts that contextualize its meaning through interaction and sharing (Rosie, 2009). This has helped me to become conscious of the learning process it takes to develop a blog and the potential of it. Richardson indicates how blogging is about engaging in an online communities and reflecting is part of bringing life into learning.
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