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December 08, 2002
Student blogging?

I'm becoming intrigued by the educational value of blogging, to me. As for you, if you learn things then I'm happy for you, very happy. Learn away. But I'm struck by how much I'm learning. It's a lot more, I'm certain, than if I had merely read lots of stuff, including lots of stuff on other blogs.

When I was a student I could never get on top of that note-taking summary-writing business that students are supposed to do, and which good students presumably do do. I was too disorganised and too lazy. I only began writing things down systematically when someone else, or I myself, was going to publish them. That way I did the work, and I could also go back and read past efforts, confident that I would at least be able to find them, if not of their high quality.

For many years it was very sporadic, and horribly unwieldy. It was still far too much like hard work, bashing the stuff into length and style formats which now seem absurdly rigid. I couldn't just scribble things out, and publish them with a few keystrokes.

Writing notes about what one is supposed to be learning is, of course, a fundamental educational procedure. Writing something down obliges one to engage with what one is supposedly learning, and it makes self-deception about what one really has learned a lot harder. Writing transfers what one has temporarily absorbed in one brain location and inscribes it rather more permanently into another brain location, and if the writing can easily be read again later, the lesson can really sink in.

Thus it is that blogging is an immensely potent educational tool, for the blogger. If you are by nature not very good at keeping track of notes on paper, or even on your hard disk, and you nevertheless want to make a decent fist of studenthood, try blogging. If you are all that, and you are also something of a show-off, who wilts when there's no-one else to impress besides one crusty old teacher who has heard it all before a hundred times, try blogging. You never know how many admiring readers (the other kind will surely soon find other things to read) you might acquire, perhaps dozens. Perhaps only other students doing the exact same course as you, perhaps students doing a similar course all over the world, perhaps thousands who love your unconscious humour. Who knows?

Are there any student bloggers? I don't mean students who are fighting battles about political correctness and such like with their educational masters, or in general complaining about their educational misfortunes, interesting and valuable though that can surely be. I mean people using blogging to learn whatever they are trying to learn, by keeping an intellectual diary of lectures, seminars and so forth, emphasising ideas which they found especially striking, perhaps linking to their own fully written out essays. Is anyone doing that? If so, who is the youngest person doing it?

Who, in general, on any subject, is the youngest blogger?

As I find myself saying here quite a lot: Anyone?

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 09:20 PM
Category: Technology

I am 20, my friend Mike is 19. I started the site, however. So I guess we win by default. The two sweetest words in the English language. I hope you get the Simpsons reference

Comment by: Jordan on December 9, 2002 02:44 AM

I think you should not be too worried about your poor note-taking record. In most university courses that I did I never took a single note. I just sat and listened and tried to understand. I didn't always do well at exam time (though I passed everything) but that was because I was in a system that valued regurgitation rather than a real attempt to integrate knowledge into new wholes. At the end of the day I am sure I gained far more from the courses I took than the frantic note-takers did.

Comment by: John Ray on December 10, 2002 12:10 PM

I've found that I get the most out of reading and thinking about problems and ideas. To the extent that writing (and more specifically blogging) encourages these things, it's a good thing.

However, much blogging (and I am very much including myself in this category) can degrade into "Blah blah...pithy comment...link" sort of stuff. I don't think that sort of thing is helpful, and so one really only gets out of blogging what one puts into it. Sort of like the rest of life, come to think of it.

Comment by: Lucas Wiman on December 12, 2002 01:59 AM

I have a bunch of my students blogging. You can check them out by following my classroom Web log links under "Will Blogs" at my site.

Comment by: Will Richardson on December 12, 2002 11:35 AM
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