IST611 Discussion Questions

In the article Diary of a Blog: Listening to Kids in an Elementary School Library by Janie Cowan (located in our class resources for the week), the author touches on the topic of site moderation and censorship. Discuss your thoughts on how you would run a blog through your own school library–specifically as it relates to the task of moderating and possibly censoring student responses.

First of all, I think I would begin by making it clear to students that a blog is public (much like any social networking sites that I am sure they are familiar with) but this particular blog was associated with the school. Comments or entries posted on the blog was the same as commenting in class or turning in a paper – don’t say anything you don’t want the administration to hear.

That said, using a blog site like wordpress.com will allow me to preview any comments before they are made public. While I don’t like the idea of censoring student comments, it might be necessary to do just this to ensure that students are using the technology appropriately. It would also give me the opportunity to privately speak to a student who might be doing just this and rectify the situation before it becomes an administrative nightmare. Students might not realize how their words come across and might otherwise be punished for an honest misunderstanding. I don’t think that silencing student voices is the driving force behind the censorship and I personally would have a difficult time not allowing a student to post their honest feelings if it does in fact relate to what is being discussed on the blog.

I think that the easiest way to avoid a major mess is to post some ground rules that all contributors (comments or bloggers alike) must follow. These would include the school’s policy on cyber-bullying, harassment, and appropriate handling of school materials. It would be made clear that the blog, while hosted on the Internet, is considered school property and should be treated as such.

In the article Learning With Blogs and Wikis, Bill Ferriter talks about how at times schools can be “hostile to the learning of adults”. Explain how a school librarian can incorporate blogs, RSS feeds, and wikis into professional development offerings. What potential do these tools hold for educators?

The potential for web 2.0 tools to be useful for school staff members is truly limitless. I believe that subscribing to RSS feeds from professional blogs, newspapers, or educational resources could greatly improve the access most teachers and administrative staff would have to such sites, especially with the help of an RSS reader what would put all of these feeds in one place.  As far as wikis, these would make collaboration with other teachers much easier, allowing both teachers to edit and add to their assignments and work collaboratively in an asynchronous manner. Not only does use of these tools enrich student learning, but it can help to make teachers’ lives easier (and who wouldn’t want that?). Perhaps allowing the librarian to prepare how-to seminars for the staff that would count towards some of their professional development hours would also entice teachers to learn more and to try to use some of the technology on their own.

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