The question was in fact one of the muddiest points from the June 16 session: "Why is blogging so cool and innovative?"
They're not, is the simple answer to that… It's just that geeks like myself get very enthusiastic about their new toys and I think it's only right to treat what such people say with a healthy dose of scepticism….!
"Cool" and "innovative" are not words I'd apply to blogs and blogging, and I think that even if they were, that would be a very poor reason to use them in the language classroom.
My basic criteria for using any technology in the classroom would be (1) how much time is it going to take up, before, during and after class; and (2) what return am I going to get on my investment — and more importantly what return are my learners going to get on the investment?
Because blogging is so easy to learn to do (as opposed to say, using an interactive whiteboard, or writing your own multimedia material) and because the return on the investment is high — those are the reasons why I'd use a blog, not because it's cool.
If you want something that's cool, that has what we might call the "WOW! factor", try an interactive whiteboard. One of my colleagues here at IH uses one quite a lot, and says her teenagers all say "WOW!" or "Cool!" when she plays MP3 files on it, displays the lyrics, blanks out the lyrics and so on…
Blogging is not quite like that, though you could get into its cousin, podcasting, and then they could publish the MP3 files, and wouldn't that be cool!
Blogging has got more to do with creating something from nothing, collectively, and caring about it, and owning it, and belonging to it…
Oh dear, I'm getting over-enthusiastic about it again… And the doctor told me not to!
Of course, you could just get your students to write things on a bit of paper for you, and hand it in… But now that would not be cool — or even vaguely interesting…