IELTS Reading Passage 6
The increasing role of blogs in society: Should they be used in education?
Anyone who doubts the communicational impact of the internet in society need only refer to the vast numbers of internet users currently active in blogging. Courtesy of the Web 2.0 even the greatest technophobes amongst us have been granted a painless and user-friendly means to air our own thoughts and feelings to the world and make acquaintances and even close friends from far distant lands via our own and other internet user’s blogs. A cross between a web page and a web log, blogs are fast becoming an irreplaceable element of society as we know it. As a replacement for chatting and the almost abandoned email, this trend constitutes a hybrid form of internet-enabled information sharing and communication, allowing introverts to set up their own web page, post messages or content and acquire a legion of fans or ‘followers’ thus metamorphosing into internet socialites. Blogging has and will continue to revolutionise communication as we know it and impact on countless different facets of life as blogs become adopted by every level of society.
The blogging community, whether they are active bloggers themselves, or simply passive visitors, is enormous by any standard and surprisingly, it is not restricted by age or other demographics such as sex or geographical location. Even the middle-aged and retired pensioners post regularly about their daily habits and as mundane as it may sound actually make contact with other likeminded souls with whom to share their eccentricities. With anything technologically-orientated however, there still exists a majority of users from the teenage and early 20 something age brackets. These ‘digital natives’ as Denise Allwright, digital learning specialist and educational consultant, refers to them, moderate their own or even group blogs; uploading posts with video, visual and text content regarding their friends and a practically uncategorisable range of activities which as far as parents are concerned, contain perhaps too much personal data.
Interconnectivity is an issue and a form of concern for new bloggers. The ‘blogosphere’ or blog social network functions as not simply a group of people posting odd messages. In this regard, blogging is uncategorisable as a simple web page or diary but may be best understood as a platform for communication between other bloggers enabled by one user and this is possibly the means by which blogs best make their mark. An apparent element of blogging culture concerns demonstrating to the world how popular your blog is and how much traffic you receive, “after all there is no point in publicising your life if nobody is listening” according to avid blogger and website designer Arid Merron. For this purpose blogrolls have become commonplace where bloggers link themselves to other blogs and form a social network. Another common method for increasing traffic is supplementing your comments on other sites with your blog address. This is an almost ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ method and why you will often come across the same blog authors names time and time again and constitutes an informal reciprocal agreement of sorts within that community.
From an educationalists view, this blogging phenomenon possesses countless exploitable possibilities from cognitive and pedagogical perspectives alike. The use of blogs in the classroom embeds technological literacy in children, vital for life in the modern world.
The educational affordances of blogs offer teachers and schools opportunities for their students to become self-directed learners within a mutually supportive social environment. Educational researchers such as Professor Simon Hunt of Canterbury University have proven that blogging activities can assist students in developing an immense range of cognitive, social and self-directed learning skills. Therefore, the educational value of blogging within the school curriculum should not be overlooked and teachers should not just accept that blogs exist but utilise them for educational means. Twitter, a micro blogging tool for exchanging short posts, has been embraced by English teachers and teacher trainers on a large scale, frequently at the request of their students which implies that the students may have now become the educators where technology is concerned.
Pedagogical expert and associate professor Paul Venderghe champions the adoption of blogs within classroom settings as an educational and social tool. But he points out that blogging is not actually about writing at all, it is first and foremost about reading what you are interested in on other blogs. With the rise of the blogosphere we have never had some much choice blog wise to choose from. Communities pop up every day where likeminded individuals, be they students or adults, exchange ideas further perpetuated by the tendency of bloggers to hold discussions or forums within their blogs. Students who finally put finger to keyboard and blog about their lives, as a type of reality diary, reach out into the blogging universe to see what happens. For blogging in education to be a success, this first must be embraced and encouraged by educational institutions but, it goes without saying, in a secure environment.
One of the principal criticisms of adopting blogging, and especially high school student blogs, is that the students are pressured to create content of which they quite possibly have no interest in. Such artificial texts are of little communicative importance to an audience and reduce blogging to basic language practice activities with no inherent value. Whereas, the most popular blogs seem to offer the reader an almost voyeuristic perspective into the author’s life. Yet this frequent ‘warts and all’ concept represents a danger which teachers and parents should be made fully aware of. Pauline Braith in her latest book blogging and your kids, argues that “teenage bloggers just aren’t aware of the potential hazards of sharing personal information with anyone with internet access”. Encouraging the posting or uploading of content to unsecure sites is frowned upon by numerous educationalists and is one particular reason for the adoption of virtual learning platforms by schools.
IELTS READING QUESTIONS
Questions 26 – 30
Complete the summary below using words from the list underneath. Write your answers in boxes 1-5.
Blogging allows people to 1)__________ their ideas with other internet users and blogs themselves have 2)__________ an important part of our culture. The owners of blogs 3)__________ to all parts of society and have different ages, even the elderly. But it is young people who 4)__________ the largest number of blog users. Parents of these young bloggers are often worried about the amount of private information their children 5)__________ to the internet.
Questions 31 - 35
Complete each sentence with the correct ending A-H from the box below. Write the correct letter A-H in boxes 6-10.
- Blogs offer a platform for users to....
- Popular bloggers like to...
- There is a mutual understanding between bloggers to...
- Using blogs in education....
- Students have adopted micro-blogging and can...
- provides students with technological skills.
- manage each other’s blogs.
- educate their teachers.
- scratch each other.
- boast about how much traffic their site receives.
- visit each other’s sites.
- meet and discuss common topics.
- decreases technological literacy.
- teach technology to their friends.
- link all their own blogs together.
Questions 36 - 40
Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 3?
TRUE - if the statement agrees with the information FALSE - if the statement contradicts the information NOT GIVEN - if there is no information on this
- Reading is the main principle behind blogging
- Both adults and students feel the same about blogs
- Blog writing in education should be honest
- High school students have no interest in blogging
- Teenagers comprehend how dangerous posting private information is