More on Learning Through Blogging: What Readers Think
My post a few days ago arguing that the real value of blogging lies not just in reading blogs, but in commenting on blog posts and writing your own, generated a lot of comments and some great references to what others are thinking.
Most people seemed to agree with my premise that while reading blog posts can be helpful to learning, commenting and being a blogger yourself adds even more value. Barry Wooderson commented, for example:
I agree that changing to contributing from just passive reading makes a huge difference.
I have recently made the change and find that the process of producing a post or comment makes you properly think about the issue, whereas just reading tends to mean skimming an article and moving on.
If you participate then you have to read properly and the value you gain from it is many times greater than just reading.
Absolutely right. What makes the internet valuable is not that it's an alternative passive media source, like the radio or the TV. What makes it valuable is that passive readers and listeners become active writers and talkers!
Learning is an active process.
And Brandon shared a great story of how Twittering at a conference (a form of live microblogging) improved his own learning experience.
I attended Penn State's 2008 TLT (Teaching & Learning with Technology) Symposium in March 2008 as a requirement for a graduate class I was taking, entitled "Disruptive Technology in the Teaching & Learning Process." For this class, we students were divided into 5 different groups, with each group assigned to one disruptive/emergent technology: Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, Wikis, and Twitter. I was cursed to be on Team Twitter. Cursed at first, but later this turned out to be a blessing. In fact, the symposium itself turned out to be the catalyst for change from curse to blessing.
Our team asked the class to create Twitter accounts before the symposium and to experiment with tweeting their experiences, thoughts, and ideas at the conference. What happened was that we all entered a new community of tweeters and further engaged in the different sessions we were simultaneously attending! At one point, I was having a conversation with an individual about our sessions' topic; it wasn't until 10 minutes later that we found out we were in separate-yet similar sessions, and that we each brought a unique perspective to the conversation. Another instance of how we all benefited from attending the conference armed with Twitter was that interesting and useful websites were instantly disseminated to the rest of us via Twitter, no matter where in the conference center we were at!
Micro-blogging at the conference enhanced our engagement with the sessions we attended, as you found during your experience. But it also allowed us to experience and benefit from the other sessions we could not attend...and it happened in real time
As is so often the case, though, Ken Allen jumped in to challenge my thinking, both in comments and in this post on Blogging, Learning and the Desire to Learn:
through questions, and discussing in a classroom or social community,
has gone on for hundreds of years. People have also learnt a great deal
from books during that same time.
If learners want to learn, they will learn. The same desire may well tempt learners to put comments on blog posts. They may even ask questions there.
So the difference between those who lurk and want to learn, and those who comment, may not be so great. Learning takes place when the learner wants to learn.
Learning can happen if the learner sits quietly during class, for instance. Certainly, asking questions will help. But if learners do not ask questions in class, they may still go home and read about what they’ve learnt in a book. Many do. They may also lurk on a few blog posts on the Net.
I don't disagree that learners can get a lot from reading and "lurking" online. Certainly I learn a ton from reading and I know that many others do, too.
As I told Ken in a comment on his post, though, what I take issue with is the level of learning that takes place when you are only reading and not actively engaging with the content.
Looking at Bloom's Taxonomy, for example, we can see that passive reading might be effective for lower-order cognitive skill development, but when we start to move into higher order thinking, we really need to start actively engaging with information. How can I apply, analyze, evaluate and create without in some way interacting with this information? And even if I can, is my learning going to be as deep?
Catherine Lombardozzi supports my thought process here in her own post on blogging and learning where she reflects on how the process of blogging has deepened the learning for her:
Having made a commitment to posting here on the Learning Journal blog at least once a week, I also notice that when something piques my interest, I store it away as a potential topic for an entry. Knowing I may want to write about an idea causes me to mull things over that may - in the past - have come and gone in my head without ever finding a place to settle. Even if I don’t actually write about something in the end, I find myself thinking about these interesting ideas more thoroughly. Lately, I’ve had to physically stop myself from proceeding some contribution to a work discussion with…”As I said on my blog…” - but I’m awed by the fact that this little experiment has had that kind of an impact on me. (I also keep a blog on my vacations which has been a huge hit with family and friends; from my perspective it compelled me to really notice where I went and what I did so that I could capture that essence on the daily posting of my travels.)
Catherine also points out how people commenting on her blog helps her thinking:
I would add that the process of commenting on others blogs helps clarify thinking--my comment response to Ken's post actually is part of what led me to a better understanding of what I was trying to say in my first post on this issue. It's also a demonstration of Catherine's point. You learn the most from people who disagree with you.
Ken wasn't the only one who had a different perspective to share. Fresh Start indicated that some people may be reluctant to comment because of online privacy concerns. I can respect and understand this, although the fact that you can use a pseudonym to comment and blog anonymously is a pretty quick fix for that in my opinion.
Ultimately, this posting and processing back and forth only bolsters my point. I've learned far more from writing and interacting with commenters on this topic than I would have had I only read a blog post. As Andy said, "Learning is active."
Kia ora and thanks for the link Michele!
"Learning is active". I like that!
I have always maintained that learning needs energy - especially online learning.
"When the delivery is very low energy, as with information viewed from a file, you must bring energy to the process. Learning from the screen requires high energy – a passive approach doesn’t work."
The screen is a very passive device. It's even more passive than the page of a book. Despite this I get a real buzz out of looking at the screen when I read the comments and posts of others who have a passion for the same things as I do.
As Nancy White said when she quoted Darren Sidnick’s line, "Community - because without people, you just have a pile of content. Or worse… nothing!"
Posted by: Ken Allan | October 11, 2008 at 07:29 AM