On private "classblogs" vs. the wild, wide open
Jul 25, 2010
Commentary by Stephen Downes

D'Arcy Norman asks, "What right do we, as educators, have to compel students to publish on the open web?" My first reaction (as I'm sure it is for many) is that we shouldn't compel them to do anything. But when you ask the question in the context of formal education, you begin to see how ridiculous it is. Is there anything in education that isn't compelled? Participation is enforced to the age of 18, college and university courses typically have requirements for graduation. So why should public performance be any different? And - it isn't! We require singers and actors to perform in public in order to graduate. Lawyers stand in moot court. Interns perform in actual hospitals, apprentices in real garages. Graduate students are frequently reminded that they should have some journal publications to their name. So why the objection to publishing on the web? It's an irrational objection, when compared with the practices we see everywhere else in education. Total: 6911
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Comments

Re: On private classblogs vs. the wild

Education is funded with public funds with the understanding that education serves the greater good.
The requirement to contribute to a dialog in a public space should be the minimum expectation that society has of an educated person, particularly, if that education was publicly funded. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: On private classblogs vs. the wild

Perhaps part of this concern is that students shouldn't be compelled to publish ALL of their work on the open web. I agree - requiring portions to be public, perhaps specific assignments. That would be in alignment to performances, moot court, publishing in journals, etc...

But if a student is more comfortable with a large portion of their blogging to be private (or limited access to their classmates and teacher), why would we try to force them to post everything publicly?

To some, posting all of their work publicly on a classblog would be like practicing a play or their instrument on a public stage with an audience all day, every day... Or for every rough draft to be published in a magazine. Or to be building/designing/problem solving/etc... with a continual audience.

Some people are completely fine with that kind of scrutiny. Others aren't - and need more safety while they're "practicing". And I think we should be making space for both!

Heidi (@hhg) [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: On private classblogs vs. the wild

Sometimes singers practice in the shower. This sort of private performance is normal and expected. And nothing in what I have argued speaks against such practice. That would be an absurd position, and I do into hold it.

Sometimes singers also have shows for private audiences of family and friends. These are typically less about practice and more about rehearsal, one-off performances to prepare for the actual show. These are fine too, and nothing I have said speaks against these.

Finally, singers perform in public, whether at master classes, evening jam sessions, class recitals, or whatever. These *are* public performances, and are an essential part of becoming a singer.

What I am arguing is that, in the education of a singer, you cannot replace these public performances with either of the two forms of private performance and call it a complete or proper education. Singing - doing *anything* - inherently requires a public performance.

Therefore, to argue against an educational practice on the basis that it was a public performance is irrational. Education in all disciplines requires a public performance. Whether it is a web-based performance or an in-person one is moot. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: On private classblogs vs. the wild

In higher education you are no longer practicing but are part of the performance. Unfortunately university is seen as a finishing school for extended adolescence with low expectations and intellectual coddling. Educated people at every level have an obligation to model higher critical functioning and to aspire to the role of public intellectuals. Outspoken courage and conviction are our only hope for an enlightened society. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: On private classblogs vs. the wild

@glen - agreed. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: On private classblogs vs. the wild

Interesting discussion and I would have to believe that it goes to the thought that the end goal is the product, in this case the blog. If that's the case, then you can go around in circles with the logic about the publication of intellectual property and a concept based upon the publishing of papers as the end product of education. I lose interest rapidly in that discussion.

But, is this concept totally realistic anymore? Is it the product that is the ultimate goal or is it the process of open discussion, sharing, and yes, even being taken to task by an often unseen public over a concept? Group work and collaboration have been desired goals in education forever - is this not the logical extension given the current set of available tools?

A friend of mine uses this quote which I find myself using more and more. "Nobody is as smart as all of us".

The problem with a final published product (and I'm sure we all have felt that way) is that when it's submitted for grading, it's done. The power of a process offered to the world is that the discussion can continue as long as there are willing participants. I know where my desires are. [Comment] [Permalink]



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