Fostering Communities of Reflective Practitioners

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With this column, Digital Learning is happy to introduce the Blog Book, for discussing about the blogs, the new wave of online applications in education.  As teachers have become the focal point all along this issue, we are happy again to dedicate this introductory column of Blog Book for our esteemed teachers, by introducing them to the blog, Shuchi Grover, the founder of the blog discusses more.

The last 4 years or so have seen a sea change in the interaction paradigms on the Internet. The “new web”, or Web 2.0, (the '2.0' indicating the second generation of web applications) focuses on collaboration and networking, and provides a whole host of easy-to-use tools that allow anyone to become a creator of content on the web just as easily as they consume (read) information. This “Read-Write Web,” is purportedly closer to Tim Berners-Lee's original vision of the Internet. Blogs, Wikis, Social Bookmarking, RSS and podcasting are some of the new tools that make it easier than ever before to share one's work and collaborate with others globally on the Internet. Stephen Downes (who coined the phrase “e-Learning 2.0”) notes that “the emergence of the Web 2.0 is not a technological revolution, it is a social revolution.

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Blogs have made creating learning communities easier than ever before. At its most basic level, a blog offers a way to publish online content without knowing programming languages and without having to invest in any software or hardware. Starting a blog takes a few seconds and “posting” to a blog is no more difficult than typing a document on Microsoft Word.

In keeping with my firm belief in first making teachers aware and fluent in the technology that they could/should use with their students in their classrooms, I do think that one cannot expect teachers to design curriculum around blogs unless they've experienced blogging first-hand. As part of my teacher education workshops and initiatives, I have, over the last 3 years or so, helped teachers start personal blogs where they reflect on their practice or on readings or their teaching experiences. More important, and potent, however, have been the “group blogs” that I set up for collaborative reflection and sharing.

A “group blog” gives several people (who are “invited” by the creator of the blog) the privilege to post on the blog (not just comment). This means anyone can start a discussion thread that others can add to. Such blogs work very well for teacher professional development workshops and courses, as they provide a space for teachers to continue their reflections and conversations long after the face-to-face sessions are over. These work well for a group of teachers in a programme or in a school where someone takes the responsibility of setting up the blog, inviting other teachers and maintaining the blog.

It was this rationale of community-building and collaborative reflection that led to the creation of (

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