Blogs and other Web 2.0 technologies are rarely being used in schools in the powerful ways they are taken up outside of school—in ways that position learners as producers of their own knowledge. These radically different engagements in new media literacies are even more rare in science and math classrooms, but a research team from the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education has recently released a book to help practitioners and researchers discover the true power of blogging in science and math education.
April Luehmann, associate professor, and Raffaella Borasi, Frederica Warner Professor of Education, the co-editors of Blogging as Change: Transforming Science and Math Education Through New Media Literacies (Peter Lang, 2011), believe that blogging can support classrooms in realizing reform-based science and math education.
"Blogging can promote authentic engagement in learning and teaching and contribute to a much-needed transformation of science and math education so that all students, especially those historically marginalized from participating in their school-based education, are involved in doing the real work of science and math," said Luehmann, who began exploring the potential of blogging in science education nearly seven years ago.
The book was inspired from Luehmann's own practice as a teacher educator as well as years of studies on part of her research team on the use of blogs in a number of different instructional contexts. The 14 chapters in Blogging as Change, which were written collaboratively by Luehmann and her graduate students as well as Borasi, illustrate and critically analyze the potential of blogging to encourage different ways of communicating, interacting, learning, and thinking about science and math.
"This book is an excellent example of how practice turned into research," explained Borasi. "I could see how all the work that April Luehmann had done in science education was appropriate for math. Working together with her research team to put together this book was a great opportunity to build on our complementary expertise and strengths."
Grounded in empirical data gathered from teachers and students engaged in blogging in a variety of contexts, the book examines ways in which blogging can be most conducive to transforming science and math classrooms into places that are more equitable and just—places that invite and nurture new, more social and authentic, forms of participation and learning for both students and teachers.
The book focuses on two different, yet valuable, forms of blogging. The first is classroom blogging, where blogging practices are introduced and often designed by teachers, and taken up and often customized by students. Classroom blogging can engage students more centrally in their own learning and in ways that transform their identities in science and math. The second is teacher blogging, where teachers develop professional blogs as a tool to support professional learning. The book looks at the power of blogging not only to foster new modes of interactions in the classroom through classroom blogs but also as a tool to support teachers' reflection, introspection, meaning-making, community-building, and growth through new forms of digitally-supported communication.
"The change agents who are spotlighted in the chapters of this book demonstrate ways that new media literacies can be used to support students in developing identities as science and math people and science and math teachers as reform-minded teachers committed to social justice," added Luehmann. "This book explores characteristics of new media literacies, like blogging, that make them exceptionally positioned to support these goals."
Luehmann is a science educator, teaching in the science teacher preparation and doctoral programs at the Warner School. She focuses her research on the design and use of new media literacies, out-of-school learning contexts and experiences, and innovative teacher development programs to explicitly address issues of equity and social justice.
Borasi is dean of the Warner School and a mathematics educator with a special interest in an inquiry approach to teaching school mathematics, school mathematics reform, and professional development.
About the Warner School of Education Founded in 1958, the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education offers master's and doctoral degree programs in teaching and curriculum, school leadership, higher education, counseling, human development, and educational policy. The Warner School of Education offers a new accelerated option for its EdD programs that allows eligible students to earn a doctorate in education in as few as three years part time while holding a professional job in the same field. The Warner School of Education is recognized both regionally and nationally for its tradition of preparing practitioners and researchers to become leaders and agents of change in schools, universities, and community agencies; generating and disseminating research; and actively participating in education reform.