I was talking to a couple of people today about the way we use blogs with our students. At my school we have a number of students and classes blogging, and every one of these blogs is completely open and visible to the public web. These folk were asking, with an obvious degree of concern, how we deal with this public visibility of student blogs and what steps were we taking to prevent them being seen by “just anyone”.
I’ve tried to convince many people to try blogging over the years. Usually, their biggest objection is “why would anyone want to read what I write?” Their concern is usually about the huge waste of effort that blogging will be because they don’t truly believe that anybody will ever read or take any interest in what they have to write. They imagine that their work will go into the black hole of the Internet where it never gets seen by anyone.
And yet, when we talk about getting students blogging on the open web, the usual concern is just the opposite. We worry more about how we can stop “all those people out there” from seeing the student blogs. We worry that our students will be endangered by throngs of strangers seeing their writing online.
Well, which is it? Are we worried that nobody will see the things we post online, or are we worried that everybody will see the things we post online? It’s an interesting contradiction.
The truth is that the vast majority of blogs have a readership of close to zero. Getting people to find and read your blog is hard work. It takes a lot of promotion and campaigning to get people to find and connect with a blog. And as much as I hate to say it, it’s probably even harder when that blog belongs to a school student. We worry a lot about ‘stranger danger’ but unless a teacher actively pursues an audience for their students’ blogs, I suspect most would be lucky to get a visit from anyone beside mum and dad and a few family friends.
Despite our concerns about the perils of putting our kids online, the biggest challenge of blogging with students is not exposure, but obscurity.Creative Commons photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/andercismo/2349098787/