blogging at high school

Through an interesting turn of events, I gave two presentations about blogging at a semi-local highschool the other day. The school had a “One Book, One City” type initiative and read The Gospel According to Larry in which its main character stirs things up though blogging. The students were slightly interested in what I was saying, so I’m calling it a pretty good accomplishment.

I didn’t have too much time with the kids, so I talked about of course what blogs are, touched on the concept of blogs as journalism by the people, mentioned how they are impacting traditional media sources, and explained (in about 5 minutes) what RSS is and how it could help them. The other portion of my talk was about how they could put up a blog, if they desired. I tried to give them some non-boring ideas about why they might want to start a blog; these were mostly social applications like keeping in touch with friends when going away to college. Aside from the technical aspects, I talked about the freedom and responsibility of publishing on the web, as well as personal security and safety.

Interesting to us, though wasn’t what I had to say, but rather what the kids had to say. I started my talk by asking the audiance if any of them ran blogs. Slightly to my surprise, only two or three out of about 80 admitted to it. During the sessions, by means of a live demonstration, I illustrated how simple starting a blogger site is. A number of the students could hardly believe it asking, “So that’s on the web for anyone to read now!?”

I published a few sample posts, one of which something to the effect of “OMG, this guy is so boring!” as the title. This set off another conversation, raised by a question an adventurous teacher asked about the use of my IM lingo. He said that some students IMed him and then laughed when he used full sentences and proper grammer (like an English teacher would!). He wanted to know if he had to type “in this new language” or if he could use the English he knows and loves. The students got a good laugh at all of this. (At this point I took an survey of the audiance, about IM. I think only 3 hands weren’t raised when I asked “Who here uses IM on a daily basis.”

One student asked about putting pictures on a blog, so lucky for him Flickr was on my agenda. This was the section of the talk interested the students the most. I mentioned Flickr’s “Send to Blog” function, and how this could be automated, facilitating sending straight from a camera phone, which many of them said they used.

All in all, it was a neat experience to be able to get a small snapshot of where these students stood with this technology and educate them about it. The best part about it was that it took place in the school’s library. Kudos to the librarians there for staying current and attempting to instill the “libraries=helpful, relevant, tech friendly places” equation in their students brains.

4 thoughts on “blogging at high school”

  1. I’m somewhat curious about what the response might have been if you’d asked the students how many of them had livejournals. I’ve gotten the impression, although it may be mistaken, that Livejournal and its ilk are typically excluded from the “blog” category even though they have all of the necessary ingredients (RSS feeds, comment capabilities, and Trackbacks are apparently on their way). While they tend to be of a more personal nature than what I’ve typically seen on Blogspot and on independent blogs (I doubt you’re likely to see a reference to any livejournal pages on the evening news) livejournals are still blogs.

    In addition, the Livejournal friends page is essentially a “river of news” aggregator, although only paid accounts can add feeds that don’t already exist on livejournal (most major blogs are already syndicated there, though). Considering the surprising number of people I run into who have livejournals – mostly the younger folks – I wouldn’t be surprised if you got a few extra hands raised in response.

  2. Good point. I didn’t mention livejournals by name, but I did mention xangas, which I believe are also popular with the kiddos. Of the few students that indicated they blog, it seemed the majority were xanga sites.

  3. Sounds like fun. I am putting together a blogging “lesson” for a class this month.
    I was planning on focusing on technical issues, but your Blogging 101 presentation makes me wonder if I should focus more on benefits and less on “How to”.
    Thanks for posting the presentation online, its going to be a real help.

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