Friday, May 09, 2008

“Which Came First, the Writer or the Blogger?”

In an article entitled “Blogging helps encourage teen writing”, eSchool News reported on an April 24, 2008 survey conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project with support from the College Board and its National Commission on Writing. The report explores the links between the formal writing that teens do for school and the informal, electronic communication they exchange through email and text messaging. It revealed that student bloggers are more prolific and appreciate the value of writing more that their peers.

But which came first? Do natural writers blog more or do teen bloggers become natural writers? But then again… who cares? As educators we know the ability to write well is an important skill.

The survey results showed, teens that communicate frequently with their friends, and those who own more technology tools such as computers or cell phones, do not write more often for school or for themselves than less communicative and less gadget-rich teens. Teen bloggers, however, write more frequently both online and offline, the study reports
”Forty-seven percent of teen bloggers write outside of school for personal reasons several times a week or more, compared with 33 percent of teens without blogs. Sixty-five percent of teen bloggers believe that writing is essential to later success in life; 53 percent of non-bloggers say the same thing”. 

According to the article: “Teens say they're more motivated to write when they can choose topics that are relevant to their lives and interests, and they report greater enjoyment of school writing when they have the chance to write creatively. Teens also report that writing for an audience motivates them to write well and more frequently--and blogs are one way of providing this type of audience.”

Bradley A. Hammer, who teaches in Duke University's writing program, says the kind of writing students do on blogs and other digital formats actually can be better than the writing style they learn in school, because it is better suited to true intellectual pursuit than SAT-style writing.” 

"In real ways, blogging and other forms of virtual debate actually foster the very types of intellectual exchange, analysis, and argumentative writing that universities value, he wrote in an op-ed piece last August”.

My take on this:

If we were looking to design ways to encourage written intellectual debate among learners (and we are all learners), maybe personal blogging is the place to look for that design. It may be an opportunity to create excited, inquisitive and confident writers, eager to participate in even greater debates for their future and ours.

Ask Yourself:

Would my students benefit from dialogue or debate on the content I teach?

Would I be happy to see my students writing with thoughtful reflection of ideas or information?

Could a personal blog of my own add to my professional growth? (Side Note: I know it has added to mine.)