It appears that the subject of blogging in education is continuing to be a topic of discussion on Becta’s Research Network. A number of people are coming up with good ideas and there are some people who believe that it still has no place in education. Equally, there a re people who appear to express a ‘voice of reason’ by asking why should we adopt new technologies or new practices just because they are there, rather than because they have proven educational value. I have always said that the power of blogging lies not in the blog but in the comments. Hackers and spammers have long realised this, why do you think comment spam is so pervasive? The educational potential of blogging in schools lies, it seems to me, not so much in the facility of the pupil to write their blog but in the facility it gives for other pupils and/or staff to add comments to that blog. By blogging, the pupil is making digital notes of their learning and these, like written notes, can be of great value in aiding learning and recall, especially at examination or test times. It is the facility to share the blog and to allow others to add comments that better befits the learning process. To illustrate what I mean, let us say that a pupil has written in their blog that they are doing an economic study of a particular country. Another pupil can then read this blog entry and add the comment that they, too, are doing a study of that same country and asks whether they can share their findings and co-operate together. Another pupil reads the blog entry and adds the comment that they have found a website which may be of relevant to the first pupil’s study and he adds a hyperlink. A third person reads the blog and adds the comment that he actually lives and works in the country concerned and asks whether his experiences might be of interest to the pupils. So you can see that the comment facility in the blog has given the pupil a study buddy, a link to relevant information from another website and a possible first hand account. Let us take the case further and let us now suppose that each of the three participants now add further parts to the blog, either by adding original items or by adding further comments. The blog then starts to take more shape and can be used to view how findings or answers were obtained. Let us suppose that one of the findings reported in the blog is inaccurate. A teacher can read through the blog and spot the inaccuracy, they can then add a comment and ask the pupil to recheck their finding. It may also be the case that a pupil may be following a rather narrow line of enquiry in their study, the teacher has the facility to add comment(s) to try to steer the pupil into broadening their study into different aspects. In order for all of this to take place, I am making a number of assumptions. Firstly, I am assuming that the facility to add comments is enabled, secondly, I am assuming that the ability to add comments is open to all and, thirdly, I am assuming that only the pupil has the ability to add original posts to the blog. This is actually the most common setup for a blog. It is usually possible to disable commenting, though this does rather defeat any idea of co-operation. However, some form of restriction may be necessary to prevent abuse such as comment spam. It is possible for the pupil or staff member to have moderation rights, which means that they can decide which comments are published or not. Even without moderation rights, it is often possible to avoid comment spam by adding the requirement for the commenter to reply to challenge questions such as typing in a randomly chosen sequence of letters. This avoids much comment spam as that is often generated by automated bots. It is always possible to allow the blog to be read and commented upon by anyone who comes across it on the blogosphere. This obviously allows for the widest amount of interaction and participation. However, it may be necessary to restruct access to only certain pupils or members of a particular school. While it is usual for only the blog owner to have the facility to post original posts to their blog, it is often possible for the owner to allow posting rights to other people if they wish. It could be very beneficial if the teacher or tutor also has the right to post to pupil(s) blogs. With the teacher also having the right to post to blogs, then they can post new questions or new assignments, homework etc. for the pupil(s). Well, for now, that is my view about blogging in schools. I do believe it has a value if it can be implemented succesfully. My enthusiasm for blogging is based upon its potential educational benefits rather than its technological availability or its current vogue. If anyone would care to comment upon their views or experiences with blogging in schools, then please leave a comment ….. not comment spam please! LOL.