James Farmer has an interesting post about how students might use blogs to manage their learning. Here’s a snippet:

However, if that learner has their own blog ‘outside’ of the central, managed environment then things can start to look a bit different. Let’s say that in this case they are studying four units and they can simply create categories for each one (so postings relevant to that unit can go there and to their main blog if appropriate), that that category is then aggregated into the ‘central’ area (where unit guides, copyrighted study materials, core materials etc. can also be found) and that this blog also serves as a portfolio cum social tool for the student in question (as each learner has also been furnished with their own aggregator). The student in question owns the content, they are able to develop their blog as they choose and do with their content as they please, they are able to develop an online presence over an extended period of time and become parts of communities through their blog (communities that will form as naturally as communities form in f2f college) and they are able to subvert the technology in many wonderful ways (podcasting, photoblogging, vogging etc. etc.). It’s also their responsibility… and that is a great teacher in itself.

I’ve always thought that the most efficient model for using blogs in schools would be the one that collects student work from all courses and then feeds it out by categories to teacher aggregators. That way students build an online archive and ultimately, perhaps, portfolio of work throughout their schooling. Teachers simply subscribe to the relevant content from each student blog and comment back as necessary.

What James reminds me, however, is the importance of making the site truly one’s own by allowing students to develop the look of their sites and add personal experiences and artifacts as they see fit. Really, the blog should be something not only outside of the cms, it should be outside of school altogether. I mean how many of the 8 million + bloggers out there blog because their schools are asking them to? This is my blog, but this is a place where I think and learn a heckuva lot, and I’m not doing it for school. And so it should be.

We should encourage students to have online learning environments from which we as teachers can pull the relevant bits. That way we’ll be creating lifelong learning spaces, just like real bloggers do.