Educational Website

Hello!

As part of a course I am taking on technology in the classroom, one of my assignments is to make a blog detailing what I have learned in the course. As my first assignment, I have to find an blog that is dedicated to educational technology and critique it.

The blog that I will be discussing is at this link:
http://kimcofino.com/blog/2011/06/12/blogs-as-showcase-portfolios/

This blog is written by a woman named Kim Cofino, who is an educational technology facilitator in international schools. After scrolling through some of her posts, Cofino posts every few days about conferences and PD sessions she attended, student assignments, students responses to current events, and events in her personal life. What attracted me to her blog was her most recent post entitled, “Blogs as Showcase Portfolios”.

This is the first time I have written a blog, and I was curious about the classroom implications. I have seen, in my practicums, the use of blogging platforms in classrooms, but I have not implemented it myself yet. In this specific blog post, Cofino talks in a conversational tone about her experience with using a classroom blog. She has used blogs for the past six years in various formats, and she is a strong advocate for their use. I can see that the content of her blog is reliable and relevant because of her years of experience and clear examples of her work, and her students’, work. Her long history of blog posts suggests that she is consistently trying to improve herself as an educator and specialist in the educational technology field.

Specifically, she is using blogging as a digital portfolio of student work. She wants this to replace the paper porfolio of student work, which she feels is not the best way to share and praise students work.

In this blog entry, Cofino provides multiple links to blogging websites, previous articles she has written in regards to blogging, and instructional entries on how to use them in a classroom. This blog entry serves as a summary article of the work she has done over many years of blogging. This blog entry is a perfect example of an educational technology that students might already be familiar with, and therefore encouraged to engage with. This also opens the door for excellent home-school communication, which she encourages in the post.

The best link she provides is to actual student’s work with her digital portfolio project. You can click on 9 different students blogs and see what they have created. As a professional, this was helpful for me to see a finished product. The students made their blogs personalized and visually eye-catching, an element that was likely something they greatly enjoyed. For example, Sophia’s blog (one of Cofino’s students) can be found here:
http://blogs.yis.ac.jp/17hongs/showcase/

Sophia has posted an entry about her goals regarding their student led conferences. Sophia has provided thoughtful and introspective answers to the questions that Cofino asked. While this is just an assumption, I sincerely believe that the action of typing and writing this in such an interesting format probably encouraged Sophia to provide a stronger response. It would appear that the days of the little writing notebook where the room is silent except for frustrated sighs and pencil scratching are a thing of the past. Sophia also posted images of her artwork, along with her written work. She posted a review of a poem she liked and she filled out a lengthy ‘about me’ section. Cofino has clearly turned this blog assignment into a cross-curricular project (art, media, writing, reading, goal- setting), which as a fellow educator, I am impressed with.

In this entry, Cofino has also cut and pasted her assignment into the body of the entry. This was helpful for me as a professional because I can see the success she had with it. While not all the content is perfectly relevant to my teaching, the majority of it is- or can be adapted.

My only problem with her work is the notion of online privacy. In an age where our digital footprint continually grows larger, posting student work might be crossing an uncomfortable border. Confino does not provide any identifying details for the students, and I would hope waivers and permission letters were sent home, but the notion of student work freely on the internet does concern me. If, as it appears to be the case, anyone on  the internet can post to student blogs, that opens the door to abusive comments or behaviour. My preference would be to find a blogging platform that is strictly ‘in-house’, so to speak, where the students would need to log-in and log-off. My students should share their work amongst their peers, not the entire world. I would treat my blogging project the same way a corkboard is used in the classroom- a place to share and present excellent work, but it is kept inside the classroom walls.

Despite the above flaw, I can see the creativity and interest that this project brought out in her students. Cofino has created an impressive online community within her class. I have been looking for a way to start a blog project in my classroom, but I was unsure as to how to get it off the ground. I know there are multiple blogging platforms available, but her suggestions and critiques will help me to find the best one available. While she is teaching a grade 6 class, I strongly believe this can be used just as successfully in grade 8, which I will be teaching in the fall.

While searching, I also came across this blog:

http://www.whiteboardblog.co.uk/

It is hailed as one of the best blogs on educational technology, and it is easy to see why. I was wary at first because it is based in the UK (compatibility issues, video copyrights not transferring to Canada, etc.) but the content that the authors provide is quite impressive. Each blog entry provides a link to websites, free software and other educational tools. A good website to bookmark!

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