While working through this week’s reading I found myself continually asking the same two questions: Is blogging an effective means of conducting academic discourse and spurring students’ curiosity in the subject? And, Is blogging “safe” in an academic environment?
The answer to the first question seems to be clearly argued as these authors explicate their own experiences using blogs and wikis to enhance the classroom environment. What I like about blogs is their ability to create a learning environment in line with Jacques Ranciere’s notion of the “ignorant school master,” in which the instructor creates the learning environment and empowers the student to actively participate in the construction of her own knowledge. While the readings argue for the effectiveness of these tools, they do not go far enough to provide the reader with a clear understanding of what is necessary to construct an effective educational blogging environment. For example, what kind of prompts are given? These concrete details would be helpful for an instructor who has never incorporated these types of digital technology in the classroom.
When I ask this second question, “Is blogging safe?” I am not so much concerned with social safety concerns such as students publishing their work on public blogs. This concern can easily be addressed, as Alex Halavais points out, through the use of pseudonyms. my concern for safety is a much more fundamental, psycho-physical concern.
In his book Program or Be Programed, Douglas Rushkoff provides a set of commandments for the digital age. HIs first command, “Do not always be on,” points out the dangerous impact constant connection can have on the human nervous system. This point makes me question Mushon Zer-Aviv’s assertion that the collaborative class blog was beneficial because it “extends the course beyond the time and space constraints of the classroom as students publish and comment every day, around the clock.” Is this constant connection to the course healthy or even desirable?