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May 8, 2011 / Rabbi Meir Wexler

All Blogs Considered

I have only begun to blog this past year, never fully understanding nor appreciating the benefits of blogging. When I first heard the term blog I associated it with the word ‘blah’ and pictured a bunch of people throwing down a bunch of blah on a virtual page. After slowly dipping into blogging I can fully appreciate why tens if not hundreds of millions of people blog. First off-  You have to know that what happens on the web stays on the web. A blog is no different. If I typed my thoughts and posted them (and even if you haven’t posted it yet…) they are out there and not going away. So I have to focus my mind and really think through what I am going to write. I appreciate that.

What else do I appreciate about blogging? I like how my blog is a virtual extension of myself and allows my voice to be heard by people who I may not necessarily have connected to or communicated with in person. I like how blogging is not one-sided but engages the reader in an ongoing dialogue and has the potential to engage a plethora of people, around the world, who can offer their comments, suggestions and thoughts.

As an educator, it is fascinating to see how people who blog are truly engaged in a learning process while feeling connected to something bigger than themselves.  This bodes well for students in the classroom who are seeking a concept of community and can use blogs as a platform to build community. In the good old days (and present) the teacher would assign a paper, which the teacher would then grade, include a few comments and/or suggestions and then hand back to the student. The student would then either reflect on what the teacher wrote or not and most probably throw away the paper.

Now the following can take place: Teachers can ask students to blog about a chapter or passage they read. The students take time to reflect on their writing as they know their posts will be viewed by their peers. Peers then read and offer comments (praise and constructive criticism) on each other’s blog post. A communal dialogue of learners is created. The students voices are heard by their peers, the assignment does not get tossed out, and a transformational, authentic learning process takes place.

Game changer.

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