The Democratic and Educational Potential of Political Blogs
Weblogs (“blogs”) have grown up. Once viewed as a personal outlet for daily diaries, chitchat, and rants, blogs have become an important public space that is transforming social and political relations. Blogs are used for many purposes, but political blogs are a locus of community building, organizing, informing, and shaping public opinion. Because they are free for those with access to a computer and the Internet, they have vastly increased the number, range, and diversity of voices gaining an outlet for their views — although with this growth has also come an increase in misinformation and unproductive “noise.” Educators are only beginning to explore ways of using blogs in their teaching, as well as ways of teaching students how to use, read, and evaluate blogs for a range of learning purposes. In the political arena, learning with and through blogs creates a number of opportunities for students to express their own ideas and encounter a broad range of challenging views (including, for example, international views) they might have very little access to through other media. Learning to become critical interpreters of news and opinion on blogs, as with other areas of critical media literacy, is increasingly important.
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