How Former Students Are Using Blogs

A couple of days ago, I noticed that someone from Burlington, Vermont had linked to my blog. I was delighted and a little surprised because people from my state almost never read or link to my blog. So I took a look and found to my even greater surprise that it was my daughter firing up her first blog (as opposed to Livejournal and Facebook and MySpace). Her first post struck me as really very interesting–about why she was moving from Livejournal to blogging–that she wanted to talk rather than rant, that she sought connection and conversation instead of a public journal. Her reasons for wanting to try blogging outside of a classroom mirrors that of many of my students who go on to blog beyond their formal learning experiences.

One interesting tension they find is the pull of just being in the experience and the pull of reflecting on it as close to the experience as possible, or even at a distance. And the disappointment when readers (or at least those who will comment) don’t come. Remy has written a recent post about that tension as a writer about travel–whereas edubloggers tend to go offline (as I am about to do) when they travel, seeing it as a time to get out of the computer altogether, my students are playing around with blogging as a way to chronicle their travels as they’re having them for their own benefit and for those at home, and as a way to extend their thinking and learning about their inter-cultural experiences. As he writes in Blogging technology vs. time vs. perfection:

I am still feeling tugged at by my blog in ways that I had been while traveling – I am concerned with time… translating rather than experiencing. While traveling I wanted everything to be perfect – the pictures, the layout, the media, the feeling that I could travel, in that moment, with people who lived on the opposite side of the world. I wanted to use all of the presently available multi-media resources to their fullest so that it was as if people reading my blog were side-by-side with me as I went out and had my adventures. Down to the smell. I idealized blogging, rather than understanding it as a component of travel.

Here are some examples of students and former students, who blogged with me, taking blogging outside the classroom–

Mike –blogging as part of his job with th Appalachian Mountain Club



Drew in Africa

Dena in the D.R.

In thinking about their practice, these bloggers are making important observations for themselves about levels of living and thinking, about when to be online and off, about why blogging might serve them and why it might not. As I sit here in a little bookstore with wifi up on the coast of Maine getting online for the one time I’ll do so this week (have to prepare for a conference), I once again am drawn to the experiences of my students as they venture away from the classroom to see whether the kinds of blogging we do there will feather out into their lives online outside academia. But I’m not going to think too hard on that one today–I’ve got to get back to the important work of Maine:

beachstones.jpg blueberries.jpg lupine.jpg ospreynest.jpg shore.jpg shoreline.jpg


One Response

  1. Hi Barbara! I stumbled across this post at precisely the right time. I’m back on campus, about to take my language pledge tomorrow. On the eve of giving up English for seven weeks, I found myself tugged back to our class blog. Looking back over last semester, I see the blog now as a very tangible reminder of our work with language — something I’m thinking about as I prepare to give my language up, in a sense! I’m excited to see where blogging pulls me in the next few months. Hope you’re having a great summer — Vermont is beautiful right now!


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