Mario Asselin at Webcom

Disclosure: I’m covering the conference as an hired blogger by Blog Expert.

Really excellent presentation by Mario Asselin who had three students, 11, 14 and 15 years old presenting with him. He covered a lot of ground on how blogs are being used in schools, how they help students interact and broaden their views. Some of my notes;

  • The internet is having the same kind of impact on education as books had and received the same kind of negative “welcome”.
  • Native internet users are 12 years old, at most 14. Everyone else is an immigrant with an “accent” the natives find funny.
  • Marc-Étienne – 6th grade – Democra-TIC class
    • They have a class blog shared by everyone where they also take decisions together.
    • They also have individual blogs
    • Everyone uses RSS to keep up with the class, he uses NetNewsWire Lite.
    • They have a very interesting feature where posts are “under construction” but viewable and then when spell checked and everything—according to their list of “debugging” of posts—they switch to “QualityText”. It lets them publish spur of the moment but not be bothered by others about spelling mistakes and such. Then they can review and make official.
    • They have a deontological code to keep certain rules and behaviors in check.
    • He likes the blog setup they have because it teaches him to learn, to use the information and because they have easy access to the teachers. It’s also easy to create conversations and invite comments.
  • Everyone likes to learn but not everyone learns the same things the same way or at the same speed. Social software is one way of transforming students in knowledge seekers.
  • Kids blogging are often reminded of spelling mistakes. It’s interesting to note the difference in tolerance between imperfection in sports or music and writing. Lots of tolerance (from parents, teachers) for mistakes playing the violin, none for writing. Weird.
  • Tommy – 8th grade – Mentioned a number of the same things plus:
    • Aware to pay attention to the face they put online, remember everyone can see what you write, respect people and their ideas, share your knowledge.
    • It’s an outboard brain where he notes his sources.
  • Information technologies favor variable strategies for each, helping in keeping everyone interested and fighting dropout rates.
  • Writing on a blog lets teens express themselves without being interrupted, helps them focus their thoughts.
  • Boys tend to be more oriented to the external, sharing with others on their blogs and sometimes being the “star” of the week whom everyone links to helps them with that.
  • Girls tend to be more introspective, again, blogs help them by allowing them to better express, prepare, polish what they are thinking.
  • Frédérick – 10th grade – with is own set of slides!
    • They started a “media outlet”
    • Student projects, book reviews, comments on the news, connections with the student paper
  • In Québec especially, contrary to what has been happening in US schools, students tend to keep blogging and sharing after the programs end.
  • Mario went to a conference mixing with other such programs and it was widely noted that their programs let to Québec students to have a marked advantage when expressing their thoughts, presenting their ideas.

    Very interesting field and super impressive students. I’m also jealous as all hell of what they are doing in school!