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Monday, September 8, 2008

Rapid City Schools Promote Blogging

In a state where the K-12 server blocks some of the finest local citizen journalism, the Rapid City School District is demonstrating an anomalous grasp of the interactive, participatory power of the Internet. The Rapid City Journal reports that the school district is using its new website to encourage teachers to blog:

“Our goal is that everyone becomes a publisher.... This will reflect that new energy in education – the way people communicate" [emphasis mine; RCAS IT director Rick Bates, quoted by Kayla Gahagan, "New Web Site Lets Teachers Blog," Rapid City Journal, 2008.09.04].

Will students also be allowed to blog? Gahagan's report is a little unclear on this point: "Teachers and staff will be given the discretion to post and monitor student posts," she writes, leaving me uncertain whether students have direct publishing access with staff able to censor after the fact or whether all student text goes to staff for approval pre-publication.

Either way, I hope this experiment takes off and opens the doors for all members of the school community, staff and students, to make the school Web their own. The power of the Web is not simply the vast amount of information it can bring to us. The Internet is not just TV, where we sit glassy-eyed and flip channels. The real power—the power we need to teach our kids to use—is the power to publish, to participate.

"The Web can be a dangerous place," says Bates. Well, you can cut your finger off with a saw, too, but we don't send kids to shop class to learn how to buy shelves at Home Depot. The good teacher demonstrates how to use the tools, then puts them in the students' hands and says, "Start building."

The same goes for blogging and all the tools of the Web. Rapid City teachers, start blogging. Show the kids what you're doing and how you do it, then hand the keyboards to the kids and say, "It's your Web: make it what you want it to be."

1 comment:

  1. Cory, this is an excellent idea. Kids are going to get into the blogosphere one way or another. I hope the schools will teach them to maintain civility in these forums at all times.

    This blog would be an excellent example for students to learn from. It might even give people like me a shot at trying to make Republicans out of them. ;-)


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