This post was last updated on December 12th, 2011 at 03:16 pm
As I begin another class with pre-service teachers I was asked for the very first time, “Does my blog have to be public?” I didn’t give a choice. It would be great to have a discussion around the benefits and issues around public sharing but given the time constraints of the class (specifically this term as it’s only over a 6 week period), it’s difficult to provide students with enough information in a short time to make an informed decision. To be honest, I never really thought much about doing it any other way. In my zeal to have my students experience the joys of networked learning and prepare for a world where ideas and sharing should be and hopefully will be more transparent, it seems logical.
Ever since the day I wrote my first blog post and received a comment, I knew that learning in public had huge potential. That was over 4 years ago. Today I’m one of those who has embraced a lifestyle of learning that is founded on transparency and connectedness. I’ve wondered many times how and when learning should be private. My belief that the pendulum for most of education sits way on the side of private and needs to move way more to public. It does seem a bit odd to me since we have no qualms about student athletes or musicians or actors to perform in public. No athlete ever joins a team and suggests they just want to practice but don’t want to play in front of a crowd. For many, that’s part of the appeal. I’ve often talked about stages: athletic stages, artistic stages and then wondered about academic stages. We have almost zero expectations for students to publicly share learning. While I understand some people’s hesitancy to participate in online spaces, I believe the benefits are worth exploring even it it means some discomfort.
When can we begin to expect that just like our sports teams, drama clubs and bands, our students academic work will be publicly on display? Is asking pre-service teachers to post content online outside of a walled garden a bad thing? Is age a factor? Does it matter that I’m teaching future teachers? What’s the worst that could happen? What’s the best? (I already know the answer to this since it’s happened often during my various sections of teaching this course). I would value and love your input on this issue.