The Educator's PLN

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Why Blogs, and Who Needs Them Anyway?

Most professions have professional journals that address the current methods and innovations of that profession. They are used as way to announce to the profession what is going on in that profession, what is working, and what is not. Traditionally, these have been printed media coming out on a periodic basis. Many of the periodicals of education may be received by subscription by anyone. My experience, as a teacher, leads me to believe that most classroom teachers do not personally subscribe to any of these Journals, but a few may subscribe to a journal specific to their subject area. I would hope that administrators would make up the largest group of subscribers for these periodicals, but receiving them does not guarantee reading them.

With the advent of a computer-driven, digital revolution, the influence of these journals may have been in some ways diminished. Most of the content in these journals is written for one-way communication. Often if there is opposition to an article, the earliest appearance of that opposition would come in the next edition of the journal, if at all.

Enter the Blog Post! A Blog, which is short for Weblog, is a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer, according to Merriam-Webster. In the hands of an educator it may serve as a window to the classroom. In the hands of an innovative, progressive educator it may be a glimpse of the future. The advantage of blogs over journals is that the reader may immediately interact with the writer for all to see, and additionally comment. Blogs are not just content consumption, but rather content interaction.

When a particular blog strikes a chord among educators it generates additional blogs supporting, or opposing the original reflection. None of this was possible in the print media at the speed and intensity generated by blogs. It is also my opinion that, seemingly, often times, journals favor credentials more than ideas. Authors of articles are usually not the classroom teachers, but Administrators or researchers. They certainly have an important role in this, but a classroom perspective goes a long way to promote change with educators. Blogs give voice to that much-needed classroom perspective.

With all this wonderful stuff going on with education blogs, where is the influence changing education? How have the thought-leaders in education led us from the brink with their blogging conversations? Why have educators not glimpsed the future of education through the lens of the education blogs?

Technology and a lack of connectedness might be one answer. Blogs are delivered through technology. Those educators who employ the use of technology as a professional tool for communication and collaboration do not need an explanation of the importance of blogs to education. I do question however, if those, who are “connected”, represent a large enough segment of the profession to affect a systemic change? There are many, many educators who are not accessing technology as a professional tool for learning and lacking exposure to education blogs.

I think as a society we all benefit by blogging. It enables us to feel the pulse of innovation and reflect on needed change. This is something that we need to communicate to our students to carry to whatever field of endeavor they choose to enter. Blogging will be in the world for which we are preparing them. We need to share blogs with colleagues even if we need to reduce it to the confines of print media; print it out for handing out. We need to engage bloggers on their ideas and question their assertions to either strengthen their resolve, or defeat faulty reasoning. Engaging people in blogs is a method of getting involved in a movement for change, and moving forward which has not been afforded us before. It is a way we can actually participate in a discussion that may have a lasting effect. For blogging to succeed, we need to support, question, reflect upon, contribute to, and advocate for blogs. Sharing may not be a moral imperative but for educators it should be a professional imperative.

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