Blog or not to blog….that is the question!

What are uses and benefits of technology use(s) in K-12 and higher education settings beyond just uses with students in classes? How can technology and social software improve education and educational experiences in areas not related to just use with students in classes and by students for academic purposes?  Remember, teachers, administrators, school boards, parents also influence schools and schooling.

The link includes: good old technology tools that led to where we are today with iClickers, iPads and handheld computers.



To answer Professor Kinzer’s questions briefly on examples of technology, social software in particular, used in less-academic oriented contexts:

  • Christine H.’s article on admission’s offices using SNSs to reach out to prospective students.
  • There was a presentation in the MSTU 4000 Core seminar about a tracking pen that could be used to record all students’ work and how the tracking pen is being adopted by android so that parents can track what their students are learning and producing. This is a classroom experience but the parents are getting access to what is happening inside the classrooms when they cannot be there physically to monitor their children’s work.
  • If you think about it DOE’s requirement for teachers to use Teacher Ease was to provide parents access to their children’s academic progress.
  • From a personal anecdote, private institutes in South Korea give students cards they swipe when they arrive and leave the institute to confirm their whereabouts for the teachers, instructors and parents.
  • TC has the text message TC alert system that notifies students and staff about emergencies such as the snow day from last year.
  • In the Chronicles article this week: “Hoping to capitalize on students’ preferred technology, colleges sell cellphone plans that supply campus information” (para. 1). I get a discount for using AT&T’s service because there is an affiliation with Columbia. This is a way college campuses could make money by pairing up with corporate(s) to get more customers, students who probably will be “loyal” customers in the sense that they would be rigorous cell phone service and data users. In this way colleges and other educational institutions can disseminate information about their colleges and events that occur on and off campus.

I am glad that Schroeder’s (2010) article discussed the drawbacks of using social software in the educational environment because we do tend to focus on the benefits of technology integration because in this field we are strong believers that technology does and can have more benefits in many contexts including within educational institutions. However, unfortunately our public education, if anything, is a far cry from an environment in which technology is effectively and efficiently integrated. I was having a two-hour long discussion/debate with a current special education middle school teacher in the Bronx, my roommate, about her perspective on technology in the classrooms. And I realized there are so many drawbacks of technology, which are not discussed enough. We kind of touched that a little bit last week during class by addressing the CONCERNS of the parents who are not so eager to immediately allow their kids to jump on the band wagon of Internet use in all kinds of contexts and situations.

As I started reading Schroeder’s (2010) reading for this week I could not help but notice what we do for our class. We all have our own blogs and continue our class dialogue(s) throughout the week on different topics but still within the same realm of educational technology and its social impacts on us, the society. I also could not help but think how useful this blogging requirement has been for me. A lot of the times once class is over it is so easy to drop the discussion(s) which, of course, is never over. However, the blog in particular has allowed us to continue the discussions and debates we have had, open up new topics in relation to our readings, and share related weblogs, wikis, websites, articles that come into the picture as our discussions go deeper and more complex.

As Schroeder (2010) puts it “As social software allows large numbers of students to not only present their own insights but also consolidate and refine each other’s contributions, the enthusiasm about the potential impact of these applications on teaching and learning seems to be well justified” (p. 160).

The Improved Learning section in Schroeder’s (2010) article really resonates with me because I feel like that is what I have been gaining from my peers in this class via our blogging activities. Lindsey D. wrote on her blog last week that her benefit of the class network is that she can read and connect with the rest of the class and her classmates’ thoughts through the blogs.

However, as mentioned in the article, in relation to blogging, there is an uneven participation among students, potential that some students stay hidden behind the “collaborative work” that goes on in the class as a whole, etc.

So while we can see clear benefits in this class, at least for me, the instructor or anybody in the educator position and title need to clearly understand the risks and drawbacks of these social software tools. This is a good lesson for me because I tend to ignore the drawbacks as opposed to address the drawbacks and improve from the potential disaster the drawbacks could cause.


About marialarahwang

Doctoral student at Teachers College, Columbia University.

2 responses to “Blog or not to blog….that is the question!”

  1. Christine Hoyt says :

    Thank you so much for that link to the evolution of classroom technology! The visual timeline was a great way to track the innovations in education (some more successful and lasting than others). Who determines which innovations are worth keeping around longer than others? You mentioned that there aren’t enough people questioning the drawbacks of using some of our newest technology tools in classrooms. I wonder what will happen when we do. Will the iPad go the way of the chalkboard (still going strong after 100 years!). Or, is there a chance that it will go the way of the reading accelerator?

  2. marialarahwang says :

    Thanks for your comment Christine!
    That is a very good question. However, I feel like, let’s say, for the ‘reading accelerator’ it was not really scholars and educators addressing the drawbacks that made it unpopular and eventually ‘disappear.’ I feel like it was simply not as useful or demanded as say the blackboards.

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