You should already be structuring work so that it is relevant to a student’s life, whether or not it is in a blog or a notebook, and frankly, whether or not you are forcing the students to do it or not … If you don’t know how to do this without blogs, you also don’t know how to do it with blogs.
He is absolutely correct that student work should already be relevant.
What I was trying to convey in my post was that blogging is more than a way of communicating your ideas. It appears to me that blogging tends to create or reinforce a way of thinking and working on ideas. It is a forge in which I fix up a raw thought into a useful tool with the heat of thoughtful input from anyone who is inclined to participate.
My comments stemmed partially from a conversation I had with Matt in which Matt said that he learned through practice that blogging is contrary to his personality. He noticed that blogging worked for me because I like to present thoughts for other people to evaluate and build upon because I am comfortable with people pulling the ideas apart and building upon them without feeling that changes devalue the original thought. Matt prefers to do this in a way that allows for the various iterations of the idea to be hidden behind the final presentation. He will share raw ideas verbally so that they can be worked on in a group, but they cannot be so accuratly traced back so there is very little risk of being pinned down by an idea that turned out to have little merit. If I put a worthless idea on my blog someone can find it years later if they are so inclined. I am responsible for what I say here in a way that exceeds the responsibility for verbal communication. After talking with Matt I began to recognize a number of people I am aquainted with who I believe will never become bloggers for the same reason that Matt will probably stop blogging in the near future. I have come to accept that as perfectly natural and acceptable.
Tom talked about forcing students to do things (assignments) which implies that they will likely stop doing those things when the prodding ceases. I think blogging is like traditional writing in that students should be exposed to it as a way to think and record/organize ideas. That being said we should not expect that all students wil find value in continuing to use the tool after the prodding stops. The point of my earlier post was that we will discourage some of those who would use the tool if we do not give them ownership of the tool in the first place. That would mean that those students who might be inclined to blog will possibly underuse any blog assignment they might have and thus the blog in their classroom is counterproductive if they do not own the blog.