europeana_launchOne of the most exciting things about being part of the Edublogs team is that we get to see all of the excellent uses of class and student blogs around the globe.

We recently learned that one of our users, Donal O’ Mahony from Portmarnock Community School in Ireland, had been nominated for a European eLearning Award at the EMINENT Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

In fact, at the conference it was announced that Donal and his history class received the Europe’s Digital Heritage award for their¬†student blogging which can be found here.

You can see all of the 50 shortlisted projects here.

Donal was kind enough to answer a few questions we sent his way in hopes of sharing a bit more about his class blogging experience with others.

Where and what do you teach?

I teach at Portmarnock Community School, Dublin, Ireland (here). I teach mainly history and some religious education. The school is co-educational and has about 825 students.

How long have you been blogging?
I have been blogging about two years, firstly for myself with eLearningIsland (here) and the with my students (here). We moved from a class blog to each student (30 of them) creating their own individual blog (here).

What do you want to accomplish with using blogs with your students?

  • Engagement with history in a way that that is relevant to their world
  • Digital literacy – an understanding of how to work their way around a Web 2 environment
  • Representation of work that is beyond copy and pen
  • Visibility on the WWW encouraging responsibility

What are the benefits you have seen so far?
Interest, wanting to be in the ICT mediated-class, pride in work, ability to be able to articulate about matters digital, an eye for design (they loved playing about with themes, some of them using the custom feature).

What challenges have you faced with blogging in your classroom?

  • Time, I believe is the greatest challenge. EduBlogs helps here in having WordPress configured for the use of the teacher giving time back to him/her to focus on teaching/learning
  • The computer room in schools can be a “variable” environment – Its the simple things that cause problems! Flash may not be updated on all machines, Broadband is down occasionally (we do generally not have paid technical support for ICT in schools in Ireland) – the student however can also work on their blog at home which many did
  • Different levels of digital literacy from the student who is making his her first online steps to the student who is more advanced in their abilities – just like teaching the normal class really!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

My own blog deals with some of the issues around ICT in education. I recommend following it!

We recommend following it too.

Also check out the slides from the presentation below.

One thing in particular to look for in his process is that he started with a simple class blog and then gradually moved into students having their own individual blogs. This approach helps students understand what blogging is all about, sets the tone and blogging rules, and introduces the blogging process.

Thanks Donal for sharing with us and congratulations to you and your students for the honor!