My first reaction upon seeing the Russell Street School site was that they’re clearly dedicated to using blogs as a school-wise platform: the sheer amount of content on this site is staggering. It’s clear that they’ve been at this quite a while, which is a great indicator of how they’re committed to it.
In looking at the individual class blogs, one of the first things that stuck out to me was an assignment not for students, but for parents. This speaks to blogs as a communication tool; their implications for reflective and shared writing assignments are among the most obvious advantages to blogs as a platform for learning, but sharing doesn’t have to stop with other students who are working on the same assignment. Sharing features can also be used for publishing, if the school is forward-thinking enough to allow it. The immediacy of blog publishing can be scary for organizations that are concerned with their public-facing image, but it can also help a school to appear more open and transparent.
In that same vein, another interesting thing I noticed about the way these classes are using their blogs is that they’re pretty flexible in the types of posts they make. In some cases they’ll post a video or image with little or no added context aside from the order in which the post is made. It’s refreshing to see something a bit more akin to Tumblr than a traditional blog. That attitude makes these spaces seem a bit more friendly for students and gives them an outlet for something other than long-form writing.
Overall, what I was most excited about in checking out this site was that every class seemed to use their blog in a slightly different way, and that they seemed encouraged to do so. I hear too often about how students all need to be doing the same things on the same schedule, and that everything needs to be uniform and consistent. Online tools like blogs are designed to enable creativity; it’s antithetical to their nature to require all users to use them in the same way.