Replied to Three Ways to Keep Track of Students' Blog Entries by Richard Byrne (freetech4teachers.com)
One of the questions that I often field during my workshop on blogging is, "how do you keep track of what students are writing?" The answer to that depends on a few things including how frequently your students are publishing and the platform through which your students are blogging.
This is one of the big challenges with student blogging. When I used Edublogs in the classroom, I would moderate everything, therefore I would know what is being posted that way. However, I have been wondering lately about the idea of creating a formula in Google Sheets using IMPORTFEED where each new entry to that feed is added to an archive list. Then you could add a simple checkbox to tick off if you have responded to the blog in any way and even condition the whole row to make this process a little more visual.
Replied to The Little “b” and the Big “C” (CogDogBlog)

Another metaphor I often reach for is a DVD. Much of what we do in school feels like the movie on the disk- the paper, the project, the presentation, we focus on the final end product. But my favorite part of DVDs was always all the other stuff, the extras– the director’s commentary, the out takes, the location mini documentary, the story of the making of the movie.

I see blogging as providing that too. Ask them to write Extras.

I love the notion of the ‘extras’ Alan. I think that I probably need to do more of this.

In regards to comments, I always wonder if we restrict what we consider as a response. I think that being constructive is useful. I just wonder if the ability to comment on Twitter or Micro.blog extends this?

Replied to Comments For Kids Still Count: Teaching And Promoting Quality Commenting by Kathleen Morris (Primary Tech)
While we can’t control what goes on in the larger blogging community too much, we have much more control over our classroom blogging programs. The comment section is an excellent place to connect, learn, and grow. Who wouldn’t want to tap into that?
Thoughtful as always Kathleen. I found blogging in the classroom really interesting, especially for older students who were well already versed in social media. They actually struggled to properly converse. I still wonder why? I am sure that I could have implemented more elements that you touch upon, but I also think that there was a shallowness. There were habits associated with feedback and engagement that we can sometimes take for granted. When I think about Doug Belshaw’s Elements of Digital Literacies, it feels as if this comes back to communication and confidence, as much as it comes down to cognition and constructive use.

When we rue the old days I wonder if we would be willing to give everything up to go back there? We complain about ‘micro-engagement’, but how many of us are willing to turn our back on the ease and benefits that it can bring? I am reminded of lyrics from The Bleacher’s track, I Miss Those Days:

And everyone is changing
And the storefront’s rearranging
I picked up a quarter and I just saw my face
But it’s all coming back now
Like the feeling isn’t over
Hey, I know I was lost but I miss those days

I am sure that there are aspects that have been lost, but I also wonder if there have been benefits as well? Blogging has changed and always will or as Martin Weller puts it, “the future of blogging is blogging”:

I know blogging isn’t like it used to be. It isn’t 2005 anymore, and those early years were very exciting, full of possibility and novelty. But just because it isn’t what it was, doesn’t mean it isn’t what it is. And that is interesting in its own way, some of the old flush is still there, plus a new set of possibilities. Blogging is both like it used to be, and a completely different thing.

One innovation that I think has potential for supporting comemnts is Micro.blog. It allows users to share a feed from their blog to a central space and converse there. It is build on webmentions which allow comments to be syndicated back to your own site. Although I am not sure that the platform as it currently stands would be the answer, I think the features show a real prospect. I tried using the dashboard in Global2, but found the space was too busy.

I am wondering if you have any thoughts how we could improve comments outside of the classroom too?

Bookmarked More on the Role of Audience in Social Spaces
We’ve got to stop telling people who are new to social spaces about the “power of audience” because the truth is that most of today’s audiences are muted at best, choosing consumption over participation in nine conversations out of ten.
Bill Ferriter questions the story that we keep on telling about audience and instead suggests three approaches that should be encouraged:

(1). Bring Your OWN Audience

Instead of trying to build a huge audience of strangers, concentrate on building a small audience of peers

(2). Be a Participating Member of Someone Else’s Audience

Start commenting on the work of others.  Start responding to people’s posts in Twitter.  Let people know that you are listening and learning from them.  Show gratitude for the time that they put into thinking and sharing transparently with others.  Provide challenge to their core ideas — and then push those ideas out through your networks.

(3). Draw attention to the ideas of your audience

I want you to think about my buddy Bob for a minute.  He took his own time to read my original bit on audience.  Then, he took even more of his own time to craft a reply that challenged my thinking and articulated concepts that I hadn’t considered. Instead of spending that same time on his own growth, he was making an investment in me and in our intellectual relationship. That matters, y’all — and I need to respect that investment in some way.


Ferriter has been writing a lot recently about reflection, audiences and comments. Personally, I have taken to being more intentional with my comments by sending comments from my own site. This has had its hiccups, but I think that it offers an alternative future and positive possibility.