Introducing the Ultranet blog

by Kat  •  16 Sep 2011  •  Pedagogy

The advent of the Ultranet blog has got me thinking about blogging, and how it is used in education in New Zealand.  Not only are many schools using blogs successfully to showcase classroom activities to a wider audience, there are many great education blogs around that a number of us subscribe to.

Whilst this blog was on the drawing board, it got me thinking about the definition of a blog, and what the Ultranet blog would contain.  When asking a few customers what they would like to see here, the responses were as expected – product news, new educational research, sharing stories from Ultranet schools, etc.  One comment… “keep it about the product please, as too many vendor blogs veer off into something completely unrelated”… was a little surprising, but it brought it home – whilst we’ll aim to include information and learnings from other parts of the education spectrum, we’ll always endeavour to bring it back to an LMS context.

The blogging component of Ultranet is an integrated feature within uSpace (our social learning network) and is available for each student or teacher with an Ultranet account.  This blog is internal only, allowing users to publish content for all or selected buddies and teachers without the associated risks and management of publishing online globally.  Asking students to blog regularly has many worthy learning objectives – writers and responders are greatly encouraged to develop their thinking, analytical and communication skills.  The bloggers’ knowledge of the authentic audience means that students will work harder on their writing than when the teacher is the only reader.  By creating, polishing and publishing a blog post, students are:

  • expressing their creativity, both in their writing style & content and use of multimedia
  • collaborating with peers by taking on board comments by others to alter and improve a piece of writing
  • improving their ability to communicate effectively and make sure they are coming across in the intended way
  • connecting with others outside their immediate peer group
  • improving their critical thinking skills by carefully considering how they present their ideas and opinions

How do you use blogging in your classroom/school?  Is it to showcase the great learning that is happening from day to day, or to extend the students’ literacy and thinking skills?  Let us know!