Have you heard of the Student Blogging Challenge?
The program is about children embracing all of the benefits of blogging – from learning digital writing skills, and digital citizenship, to developing an authentic audience and connecting with others around the globe.
Since 2008, the Student Blogging Challenge has run twice yearly, beginning each March and October. It’s a great way for children to safely develop their voice and agency to communicate their ideas, beliefs and learning experiences to the world.
Kathleen Morris, an Australian primary school teacher and edublogger, is one of the leading forces behind the challenge.
“The Student Blogging Challenge founder Sue Wyatt ran the challenge for 10 years before deciding to step back in 2018. I was a big fan of using blogging and global collaboration in the classroom and I’ve always enjoyed supporting students and teachers with blogging and connecting. I felt like leading the Student Blogging Challenge was a natural extension of this so I happily put my hand up,“ Kathleen explained.
Some of the topics that the challenge focuses on include; digital literacy skills, copyright, global collaboration, problem solving and agency.
Kathleen also acknowledges that “some topics simply focus on fun and creativity too, like emojis and music. Digital citizenship is interwoven into all of the topics; students develop their understanding of how to be a safe and responsible member of an online community throughout the challenge“.
As the Student Blogging Challenge is a global experience, one question that it raises is how safe it is for children to participate in.
“One of the fantastic things about the Student Blogging Challenge is it allows students to develop important digital citizenship skills in an authentic way. Rather than learning about the theory of digital citizenship or publishing on a closed platform, our students get real world practise. With the support of teachers and commenters, students learn about publishing online and interacting with others safely and positively.”
Kathleen and the Student Blogging Challenge team work to recruit volunteer commenters who are allocated student blogs each week to ensure students are interacting with a safe and trustworthy audience.
“These commenters are screened to ensure they are involved in education. Some of our commenters are teachers, retired teachers, pre-service teachers, librarians, school administrators, students who have taken part in the challenge in the past, and others who work in education.”
As the Student Blogging Challenge moves into the next decade of our ever changing digital landscape, what will the future hold for Kathleen and the future of the Student Blogging Challenge?
“In order to thrive in our rapidly changing world, global competency is a must for all students. So, I hope to keep spreading the word about the challenge to encourage participants from a diverse range of countries and communities. The challenge will always be about publishing online safely and positively while learning about the world and forming global connections. As our digital world continues to evolve, so will the challenge. It’s exciting to see where the challenge will go in the years to come!”