We were recently asked to complete a group experiment testing out a couple of different websites catering for both teacher and class blogs. I was in a group with Heather, Niamh and Megan and we were given the task of taking on the website 21classes.com from both the teacher and student perspective. The method we used could be described as homework blogging as each of created a teacher blog with an assignment which we all had to complete for one another. We then had to present our findings on what the website is about, the perspective of the teacher on this blogging website, the perspective of the student on this blogging website and the positives/negatives to using this website in a classroom setting. I took on the job of reviewing the website from a student perspective.
I have very little positives to discuss in relation to the use of a student blog facility on the website 21classes.com. Our group encountered numerous difficulties in most areas when trying to find our way around the website. This made me think about how a student would be able to cope with these difficulties and I came to the conclusion that the problems involved with this website would prove almost impossible for student to overcome. There are a number of examples of these problems.
- The first problem I personally encountered was that I was unable to receive any invitations from my fellow group members to register with their blog and complete the assignments they had posted. This was particularly frustrating and I felt as though I was being left behind as I couldn’t access any of the teacher blogs despite the fact that the girls had sent me several invitations. This could cause a lot of upset for a student who is trying to complete the school work that is required of them by their teacher through the blog but simply cannot access it. It took me several hours before any of the invitations reached me which could prove another problem for a student if there is a deadline placed on the assignment they are trying to access.
- This leads me to another issue with the student blog in the form of the registration process once the invitation has been received. The registration process which students have to go through in order to become a member of their teacher’s blog is challenging, time consuming and completely unreliable. Privacy settings within the teacher’s blog can prevent any students being added to the blog however this is not an obvious element of the teacher blog unless the teacher investigates it. The registration process involves the student providing an email address, a username and password. However I encountered a number of problems during the registration process for each of my group members’ blogs. Regarding Megan’s and Niamh’s blogs I was repeatedly told by the website that my email address was incorrect when I was asked to confirm it as well as my password being seen as invalid. When it came to Heather’s blog I was told that my email address was already registered yet I had no access whatsoever to her blog. These registration difficulties are frankly too complex for a young adult to be dealing with and would cause a great deal of stress for the student and also for the teacher if more than one student was dealing with these issues as no clear solution is given.
- Another issue I noticed with the student blog came to my attention when completing the assignment on Megan’s blog. It was possible for me to see the answers to the assignment questions posted by the student who had logged in before me meaning that students could simply copy one another’s work rather than take the time to read the assignment content, think of the answers to the question or simply learn from the assignment.
If I am completely honest I found this blogging experiment extremely challenging and stressful as this website seems to pose a problem around each and every one of its corners. I understand that this may be the website’s attempt at ensuring that teachers are completely in charge and that students are safe however these attempts of safety and privacy make it almost impossible for a student to successfully set up and use their own blogs.