Darren Draper's posting today certainly caught my attention. A new program, Web Wise Kids, is being introduced in some of Utah's schools to teach children internet safety through educational game playing.
Since I haven't previewed the product, I'm not qualified to pass judgment on its effectiveness. I can and will express my dismay at the overt linking of blogging and predators on the promotional banner and game description.
With the release of the National School Board Association's report on social networking, Creating and Connecting, proponents of blogging and other interactive and connective social media tools had reason to hope for a more enlightened approach to their use in elementary, middle school, and high school settings.
One of the stated goals of our educational system is to prepare students for life beyond 12th grade, in the 21st century. By questioning the safety and effectiveness of blogging as a tool for learning, Utah, and any other states who accept this approach, are doing their school population a great disservice.
University professor Daniel Lemire asserts that
“to me, my blog has become the single most powerful knowledge management tool I use. The way I use it, it gives me a view of where I am, where I’ll be, where I’m thinking about being. My blog is like my intelligence department… it collects lots of data in an organized fashion and it sits there, waiting for me to go to. The fact that I’m read means I get feedback, and hence, people help me complete my information. I also find out about new, interesting people because they link to my blog, comment on my blog and so on.”Professor Henry Farrell identifies five major uses for blogs in [college] education, including the organization of in-class notes and providing equity in discussion for all students.
Blogging is also an import tool for those enter the world of business. Dave Pollard describes his evolving recognition of the value of blogs:
“So when I read that blogs were the next big thing in KM [Knowledge Management] I was dubious. It took an eternity even trying to understand what they were -- everyone had their own definition that seemed to deliberately exclude most of the actual applications of the leading blogging tools. When I finally realized that blogs were simply online journals, I decided to start one to get a feel for what they were about, and to start reading them to assess their potential value to business. Since I have always had a passion for writing, my own blog quickly proved addictive: Not only could I easily post my writing, as often as I wanted, without learning about HTML -- people actually read and commented on what I wrote! But it was only after I started learning about RSS -- the ability to send blog content to personal subscription pages the same way my Profiles filtered, aggregated and delivered all the site-licensed content, that I realized blogging was also a robust electronic publishing and subscription medium. And both the tools and the content were essentially free.”In May 2005, Business Week devoted an entire issue to business blogging. Their advice boiled down to "Catch up...or catch you later".
The world of education would be wise to heed the same advice.