Home and Ownership Online

by Mr. Sheehy

I am doing some research of community formation through blogging, and I found myself deep in Steven Downes blog, reading about his disgust with “another online learning community.” The part of his comments I found most interesting revealed the desire to own our own space:

“What’s wrong with what I am doing here?” The point is, these communities always want me to go there – but then my comments are spread all over the net under different identities. I want to stay here

Tomorrow, I have a sub coming in, because my family and I are going to visit my brother-in-law for the weekend, and I find myself slightly unwilling to let go of my classes. I am working so hard to accomplish certain goals with my students that I do not want to let anyone else potentially mess them up. If I botch them, I can learn from that and salvage the experience, but if a sub botches them, then I get frustrated.

When we had our youngest daughter last year, I left some films and hoped for cruise control, but since I travel to different classrooms (five this year), I had to line up VCRs or DVD players in rooms that didn’t have any. Thus the time away turned into an ordeal where I spent 45 minutes in school both days I was absent. With the travelling, then, I can’t take the traditional easy route.

Instead, I have to hand over part of the curriculum I enjoy and spend a lot of time helping students with – reading Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher. And I’m resistent. It’s my class, those are my students, and this is my unit. But I have to give it to someone else.

That ownership I feel over my work enlightens Downes’ comments about online learning communities. Why should I go there, when I am in this blog? This is my spot and I am comfortable here, and I would like to craft it to be a special spot. I don’t want to take my best thoughts and post them to your site and have them totally disconnected from mine. I “own” it, and I look forward to working with it. Hopefully my students feel the same way, and that’s one reason why I hope in the future to use more blogging sites in the classroom that students can take with them in future classes. Theoretically, I’d like my English 10 students to have an active academic blog when they begin in my English 11 class, which would turn their blog into a type of multi-year portfolio, of which they surely would take ownership.

And if they feel like they own it, maybe they’ll feel like me if they lose control of it – “Give it back. It’s mine and I was trying to do something with it.”

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