I try to teach the students in my class that blogging is not simply writing done on a computer screen. Blogging is something different. It is a more complex process that involves thinking about formatting and fonts, multimedia components and links.
Links at the most fundamental level are what make the web the web. The web without hyperlinks would simply be a bunch of pages on a screen. There would be no interconnections, no chance for networked understandings and networked literacy to emerge. This is why, when we talk abut blogging in my classroom, I tell my students that every single piece of writing they post should include at least one link; and not just to a Wikipedia article.
Don’t get me wrong: I love Wikipedia. In fact, I am a huge supporter of using it in my classroom, I recommend constantly to students that if they need a quick piece of information, a first look at something, that they look things up on Wikipedia. In fact, I think Wikipedia is so good that it has become the easy link for students. When they are searching for further information on something to fill in the holes of their understanding, or searching for further information they can send their readers away to, Wikipedia almost always shows up near the top of their search results. It is so good that it is almost always there. This is why I will let the students in my class post a link to a Wikipedia article in blog posts they have written as a second, or even a third link, but not as a first choice. Using Wikipedia is using the easy link.
I have tried to teach the students in my classroom that unlike a physical bricks and mortar business, on the web, you can gather more readers and support more people’s understandings by sending them away. Being a good source of information online involves giving your readers an opportunity to learn more about their topic, helping them to explore further and deeper. This means providing links out for your readers. But these links cannot simply be the first thing that comes up in a Google search. They need to be thoughtful and interesting. They need to lead people to places they would not necessarily find on their own easily. A link like this is much more interesting than a link done to a Wikipedia article simply to have one in a blog post.