A short time ago I attended a meeting where members of a college English department were doing a presentation to the faculty about their writing program. As I listened to about a 30-minute presentation of the types of writing required by this program, it became obvious to me that two words in this presentation of a college writing program were never uttered. They were two words that as an educator I come in contact with almost every day. Two words that have changed the way information is exchanged. The two words, never mentioned, have transformed the publishing industry. The two words have revolutionized journalism. These two words have moved authentic learning to the fore in writing classes across the country, or rather the world. These professors of writing had developed a program which by all accounts was very effective, but overlooked and did not even mention either of the two words that had changed forever how society views and consumes and disseminates the written word in the 21st Century. Obviously, someone did not do their homework, or maybe they were just not connected. If it is not yet apparent, the two words are “Blog” and “Post”. Sometimes they appear as one, “Blogpost”.
I was a reluctant blogger. I needed to be pushed into doing it. I saw no need to put myself at the mercy of the public scrutinizing: my every idea, my every word, my every mistake. I also did not believe that, even if I managed to start a Blog, I could sustain it with any substantial ideas over a period of time. That was 136 blog posts and two years ago. That number does not include guest posts done for other Blogs. What I learned and appreciate more than any other thing that I get from blogging is that I write for me. It is a reflective, personal endeavor. I made the choice to open my blog to public scrutiny. I encourage comments to my ideas, to affirm, or further reflect on those ideas based on the reader comments. Testing my ideas in public is testing I can believe in. Of course I can take that position because pretty much most of what I have written has been fairly well received in over 2,000 comments.
As an educator I believe kids should be introduced to blogging early. A writer’s work will quickly improve with a real audience. Writing for an audience of only one is a tedious process. This is the preferred method in education. The writer needs to wait for the composition to be graded. Of course the student writer can always shake off the teacher’s criticism; because the writer is convinced the teacher hates him anyway. With comments from a real audience providing proper feedback, the writer gets a better sense of impact on the audience as well as recognition for accuracy and focus. Of course it is also on the teacher to teach kids how to responsibly comment and respond on other’s posts. We can’t hold students responsible for things that we don’t teach them.
As an educator I believe educators should be blogging. We need to model that, which we are demanding of our students. It also opens the teacher to the effects of transparency. It goes without saying that teachers must be thoughtful and responsible in what they post. We have to remember that any idiot can write a blog and most do. This is why we need more educators modeling and contributing to the pool of responsible blogs. Teachers who abuse their responsibility by irresponsible posts are for the most part just irresponsible adults who were never taught about the responsibilities or the impact of the blogging.
As an educator I believe that administrators should be blogging. Administrators in theory are our education leaders. They have an obligation to tell us where we are going and why we should go there. Education can no longer be an isolated profession. There is too much at stake. I continually try to convince administrators to blog. Many have the same trepidations that I had at first. Most, after taking the plunge, become blogging advocates. Check out the Connected Principal’s Blog. This is a collaborative blogging site for principals, most of whom are recent bloggers.
The whole idea of Connected Educators is to break down the barriers that have prevented us from exchanging ideas in a big way. Technology has provided us the tools to share and collaborate in astounding ways. We do that on a daily basis with existing content. Blog Posts provide us with: original thought, new ideas, questions, reflections, and much, much more.
This is not just a job for writing teachers. The computer is the today’s publisher. Computers do not send out rejection letters. If we as educators recognize the position blogging now has and will continue to have in our society, we need to take responsibility for teaching proper use in whatever our academic field of choice. We need to model for the next generations. We need to use the Blog as a tool to connect and communicate. We need to blog in order to openly reflect and challenge. We need to blog for ourselves while opening our ideas to others. For many this is a scary thought, but for many others it is a challenge.