Friday, May 30, 2008

The 31-Day Comment Challenge - Day 30

Tēnā koutou katoa

to you all

The Day 30 task is to analyse how you can use what you’ve learnt about commenting to change your teaching (technique). The findings of this study are to be analysed with a view to considering what can be applied to classroom teaching.

I have problems with this task in relating it to a classroom environment. This is because the classroom and the blogosphere are two entirely different spaces. I have similar issues with applying Lev Vygotsky’s research findings to the chat-room environment. They are poles apart.


My experiences in commenting tells me nothing about the people who sit and read all the posts and comments but never venture to make a comment. This is different than any experience I’ve had in the classroom, for I am always too able to identify those people who do not participate.

Through identification of the non-participants early in any classroom lesson, I can move my attention to them and perhaps entice some to contribute. Though this is not always met with the desired success, it nevertheless allows me to be aware of the existence of these people in the classroom environment. Hence there is always the potential, over time, to gain some success in encouraging those would-be non-participants to become participants. I cannot do this with the blogosphere per se. I can do it on Facebook to some extent and also in a learning management system that permits me to know who has logged on, when they logged on, and who is visiting (or has visited) the chat-room.


Having said that about the non-participants, it is a strange environment that I’ve now been given to analyse. Strange because the only experience I have is with those who participated. I am aware that they probably make up less than 10% of all observers.

So I begin to feel like the director of a play with about 9 people in the cast and about 90 in a very quiet audience. All I can say about the legitimate peripheral participants (LPPs) in the quiet audience is that I know they are there. So any findings that I may have can only be based on my interaction with the few.

Participants are different

The participating people, as a group, are necessarily different from any ‘normal’ distribution of people that I may have before me in a classroom (I use the word ‘normal’ in the statistical sense). Furthermore, there is a quality that makes a person a participant and I believe that it is a fundamental distinguishing quality.

I know that I am a died-in-the-wool participant, and so I am quite different from many of the LPPs. I could name a few blogocolleagues who are like me. They probably already know who they are, and may very well have identified themselves as being in the same category.

Classroom experience

How can I use this awareness to change my teaching (technique in the classroom)? Frankly, I don’t think I can. But my experience in the classroom has taught me that by simply identifying the non-participants, I can then move to attempt to entice them to become participants.

To translate this to the blogosphere, I would need a whole new awareness of who was logged on and who was visiting the blogosphere – a momentous accumulation of data no doubt – before I could make any use of this experiential knowledge. I would then require some non-confrontational way of communicating with the individuals in that group so that I could persuade each to participate.

Ka kite anō
Catch ya later

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