The break was great and it’s good to be back blogging. Even though I didn’t blog over the break I found myself reflecting about so many things. One of those thoughts centered around evaluations of different kinds. On a recent interview with a reporter I was asked how weblogs were evaluated. How do we measure the results of learning from blogs? How do you evaluate the different blogs? Is there research? There are no easy answers here.
There is some research and I sent that to the reporter. Mostly the research I find is at the university level. I’ve given lots of thought to evaluating blogs. I feel an immediate resistance to the idea of stacking student blogs up and comparing them in some sort of lock step method that would defeat its very essence. I’d feel the same way about educator blogs. It’s not the blogs we need to evaluate but the learning that occurs. Blogs are the vehicle. Granted it is a unique vehicle that allows us to connect in ways we never could before.The thought of grading blogs hit my mind with a thud. I shutter to think that may happen at some point. I’m afraid the real learning, the connectivism that results, the shaping and reshaping of ideas, and what happens in classrooms when students begin caring about what they are reading , writing and thinking will be put to the side. The caring that comes when they realize what they write is important and meaningful. That comes from the connections. That comes from teaching them reflection. Teaching students to reflect about what they are learning and then to write about it is difficult yet the most important and empowering thing for their learning. I’d like to see this done a whole lot more on blogs. Then it’s available for many to see and learn from. Opening these exchanges up to a wider audience has been incredible. I wish I had had far more discussions and modeling of this kind of learning and less on the content part. We don’t give much time to this in schools. It is not measured. Can it be measured? Certainly not in a multiple choice format. I do think we can teach our learners to honor and love learning. Relish it and grow with it. Connections need to be at the forefront with content second. Our current views of learning have got to change. Measuring learning via standardized tests is not improving learning. We need to concern ourselves with covering less material, not more, and work at finding ways to share the joy of learning, be creative, use our imaginations. Learn how to communicate with each other and listen to different ideas. Learning how to make meaning out of our learning, how to be a citizen of the world who can see multiple viewpoints and share theirs in a way that will add to the conversations and help our students to think deeply and powerfully. We need time to develop this. We need help from a bigger community.Then what about our educational blog awards? I want blogs to be recognized, but I’ve had mixed feelings about educator blogging rewards. It is truly nice to be recognized and it feels good but at the same time there are so many worthy blogs that this type of comparison is so very difficult, really almost impossible. How in the world do you choose from a list of four when you value each one in different but such worthwhile aspects ? They all add so much to the conversations and learning. It seems to bring out a lot of feelings that are counter productive to what I believe we are all trying to accomplish. Yet at the same time this type of recognition does bring some validation to educational blogs which usually are not even valued enough to be acknowledged as a category in the various blog mentions, awards, etc. It also seems to be a topic that we shy away from as an item for discussion. So how do we resolve it? Do we even need to? Probably not.
I do know that It is not as important as thinking about the learning and reflecting of and by our students. We all seemed to have reached varying points of re-examining our thoughts on learning and the learning of our students. This is a good thing. All these different points can be shared as we keep making connections. The potential for changing education is enormous. Ahhh, there is so much to learn and as usual I have more questions than answers but the quest continues.I want to wish everyone a very Happy New Year! Who knows what the new year will bring? I hope we will see an even greater increase of other student and educator voices added to the mix.