----Blogging Reflections----

Post Comments: Well, this was my first blogging experience, and I found that it can be a very effective way to express oneself to the world. Cyberspace is best characterized by a wall of anonymity that always shields the true identities of its users from everyone else. This anonymous identity that people assume while using the Internet often allows them to become more frank and forward with their evaluations of the world and the events that change it. However, this feature can be counterproductive as the Internet (and by extension: blogs) is a medium that seems to routinely produce incidents of immature name-calling and bickering, as opposed to constructive and meaningful debate. Just look at how some blog entries had a tremendous impact on January’s federal election. Despite this unfortunate effect, many people out there can still observe proper Netiquette procedures, and continue to be frank, open, and even brutally honest without allowing themselves to degenerate into bitter personal attacks on other people. For my own blogging experience, I found that I brought two different approaches when participating in these new online “journals.” I used a political-themed blog on one hand to demonstrate just how blogs can be used not only for a multitude of voices to be heard far and wide, but also how new ideas can be spread around the globe, and how they can be used to allow democracy to flourish in the modern age. In that particular context, I found that my personal convictions can sometimes stretch Netiquette rules when I make my arguments. However, because I did not have the benefit of full cyber-anonymity, (in order for the instructor to be able to determine my identity for marking purposes) I know that I must be careful and think about what I say, because it can always come back to haunt people sometimes. Despite all of that, I was still able to speak as openly as possible about those topics that interest me, and I do realize that blatant rudeness adds nothing to the collective academic consciousness. Therefore, I have found that blogs can be sort of a double-edged sword, on one hand they allow for the frank and open exchange of one’s ideas, beliefs, and values in a public forum, but on the other hand it also holds the potential to quickly disintegrate into chaos, where people don’t use logic or reason to express their views, but rather emotion and spite.

I also created a second Technology in Education blog to emphasize another important use for this novel Internet tool. Not only can blogs just be used to store personal musings or record-keeping, but they can encourage discussion and debate, and also be used to objectively spread knowledge and understanding as well. The Technology in Education blog allowed me to present ideas and information objectively, and by being able to convey that useful and important information to professional colleagues, it was done without letting personal feelings or biases cloud the message that I was conveying. Hence, I approached the two different blogs almost as two completely different people; one blog brings out my fierce and deeply held beliefs that are moulded to my personality and unlikely to change very easily. That Socio-political blog was almost like a podium rather than a conference room, and I find it unlikely that the use of that blog would allow me to remain objective towards someone else’s point of view (or for that matter, allow anyone else to objectively evaluate my point of view). On the other hand, the Technology in Education blog was designed to distance itself from personal opinions and reactions, instead it was able to present information and resources to others in a way that encourages people to keep an open mind about what they are reading. In the end, the two blogs brought forth two very different experiences, and really emphasized the versatility that blogs can have for educators. Blogging has plenty of potential for teaching and learning, in part because it presents a unique and easy way to present information, musings, and records to the world over the Internet, also because it provides an effective way for one to chronicle the impact that they personally have on the world around them. Through the encouragement that blogs are equally capable of disseminating both fact and opinion, teachers can use blogs to transmit not only your basic low-taxonomy knowledge, but they can also use the blogging process to instill the ability for students to get exposed to those higher-level analysis and evaluations of that knowledge by looking at how it affects them personally in the world around them.

Teachers of the Humanities and Social Sciences can easily make use of these growing and popular blogs, and integrate them into their professional work. Studies have reported that blogging is not just “interactive,” but that it is also “apparent that the vast majority of blogs are written by ordinary people with much smaller audiences in mind.” [Schiano, Nardi, Gumbrecht, and Swartz; 2004; 1143] There are personal blogs, topical blogs, individual-centred blogs, and community-oriented blogs. Another major phenomenon that was reported about blogging is that it also seems to be replacing the old “dear diary” form of personal-written journals, as “many blogs seem to function in the age-old tradition of diaries and personal record keeping. While the blogger is aware that his or her journal is on the Internet, the primary audience seems to be oneself, and perhaps a very few occasional readers.” [Schiano, Nardi, Gumbrecht, and Swartz; 2004; 1145] This shows that blogs are becoming significant through developing personal meaning to some people, as well as allowing public involvement. Blogs could very well become like E-mail accounts, where everyone seems to have one that provides their own little place on the Web to store their pictures, thoughts, feelings, ideas, and as some bloggers put it, a place to store a “verification” of one’s life. [Schiano, Nardi, Gumbrecht, and Swartz; 2004] As such, blogs are likely to become much more prevalent as time goes on, and if teachers can stay ahead of the curve, they can easily access another piece of simple, yet effective technology to make use of in the classroom, and enhance their professional development. Blogs are still a relatively new phenomenon, and we’re not sure yet just how far they are going to extend into our lives, but they have the potential to become very significant, and not just for teachers, but for everyone.

----Listserv/IM/Blog overall reflections----

Post Comments:
After analyzing all three of the components highlighted in this particular module, it appears that they all have a lot in common. These tools have been designed to enhance and promote communication and networking on the Internet. Each allows for easier communication: E-Mail listservs do so by simplifying the process for a single E-mail message to be sent to many different (often like-minded) recipients; blogs do so through websites like Blogger by making the creation of one’s own blog as easy as thinking about a topic that interests you, selecting a template by clicking a few buttons and…presto, instant blog!! Instant Messaging also makes communication easier by doing it in "real time," eliminating the problematic time lag in play when sending, receiving, reading, and replying to E-mails. All of these Internet-based tools will continue on a repeating process of self-improvement as the companies that provide them compete with each other to provide better services and attract more users. Even though IM has obvious drawbacks pertaining to education, IM clients are still offering very convenient features to entice new users to sign up. MSN Messenger now allows its members to have their own special public folder which permits one to store files that are available to download by other users. Listservs are also expanding into offering special features, developing things like poll questions and other features that members of a list can log on to and make use of. Blogs are just starting to make an impact on the world, and as more and more people become aware of them there will be more people that are creating and reading them as well. Blogs are one of the fastest growing ways for people to express and archive their thoughts and feelings online, and they hold the potential to help promote democratic ideals and the dissemination of new ideas and knowledge around the world. As more people around the world become able to participate in the ever-growing online community, more people will have the ability to expand and broaden their horizons.

I truly do feel that the Internet represents the next major revolution for teaching and learning. Like the printing press, the Internet presents us with a new way to transmit ideas and knowledge to other people. Unlike the printing press, you only need to publish those ideas and knowledge just once, and yet you can potentially reach the entire world. The Internet is the next printing press, and with the continued development of easy-to-use tools like weblogs, people are finding it easier than ever to leave their mark on the cyber-community. Students can be encouraged to use Listservs and blogs for educational purposes if they are able to see that these tools have educational value to them. From my professional point of view as a Humanities teacher, the Internet holds the ability to revitalize broad-based interest in the “classical” Arts and Humanities. The Internet has made it easier to archive and access literature, artwork, music, historical records, primary source material, lesson plans, and so much more. As such, we can use the technology of the future to preserve and enhance our past. Listservs and blogs help people spread ideas and create little Web-based domains of their very own. As the technology to archive and encode all types of primary-source material into digital form continues to develop and expand, the Internet will continue to become a major educational tool for everyone who makes use of it. The Internet will become another “trick of the trade,” another device for teachers to use in ensuring understanding of the knowledge that they present to their students. Furthermore, spreading democracy around the world may not have to involve toppling autocratic regimes, it may ultimately involve getting as many people around the world wired up and networked to each other as soon as possible. Listservs and Blogs are excellent tools that help develop better networking and understanding among various groups of very diverse people, and even Instant Messaging with its grammar-destroying presence still permits easier and more convenient communication, and the bottom line is that’s always a good thing for our world. Hopefully, more educators will be able to realize the potential benefits that these tools bring to the teaching and learning process. Because they are here to stay, and are just getting started in terms of the influence they are going to have on people inside and outside of cyberspace.

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