Friday, February 6, 2009

Don't Feed the Trolls

For this weeks blog I chose to read the article "Don't Feed the Trolls" by Karen Work Richardson. This article outlines procedures for incorporating blogs into a classroom environment to enrich the learning experience. The term trolls is defined by Wikipedia as "a person who posts rude or offensive messages on the Internet, such as in online discussion forums, to disrupt discussion or to upset its participants." The author also quotes an AOL article by Timothy Campbell, who suggests that the only way to deal with trolls is to ignore them. There are many suggestions as to how to best lead the participants towards good behavior. Some guidelines make suggestions as to how best to word postings to lessen any misunderstanding. Other sites are more vague in how they deal with any offensive language. I found the article interesting in that the author feels that blogs are a good way to teach civil discourse, stating that in blogs the conversations are captured and this allows for reflection, unlike face-to-face conversations. I agree with the author when she states that both classroom interaction must embrace and demonstrate civil discourse. Her statement that "civil discourse forms the foundation of a democratic society" is very accurate. We are a society made up of different people with different opinions and our very strength is in recognizing these differences in a respectful manner.

Q1. What is a good first step in discussing civil discourse?
A1. According to the article, a good first step is to review the rules we already know. These rules regarding how to treat others are taught to us in the very beginning and the lessons continue throughout our lives.

Q2. What is the most important part of helping our students learn about civil discourse?
A1. The most important part of helping our students learn about civil discourse is in modeling the behavior ourselves. "As an adult, your conduct needs to be not merely acceptable but exemplary.” Our students will learn from our example.

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