Friday, October 05, 2007

Is it a blog?

Another world
I’ve commented before about using blogs in a VLE: but are they really blogs? and is it really a VLE? Take the second question first – if your platform is about distributing information, making announcements, providing resources, and allowing a small area for controlled discussion, it’s really little more than an electronic noticeboard with clear lines of authority – not exactly a learning environment. So when that environment has blogs (or wikis) in it that’s not very Web 2.0. The blog function just allows the learner to publish dated posts – you can’t tag or personalise your page, although you can do links and include rich media. So it offers quite a bit more learner autonomy than a discussion board, but it’s still highly constrained. Back in 2005 people were trying to define what a blog really is, but now we know there are as many varieties (or sub-genres) as we try and imagine. For this course I’m teaching I’m thinking of the VLE blogs and wikis as a sandbox, in which learners can get used to some of the functions and try out that way of writing. In the second semester they can go out into the wide world using ‘real’ blog and wiki tools – this seems to me to be a reasonable sort of journey to take.

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