I was asked a couple of weeks ago by a colleague if they should start a blog. I thought long and hard about it. As I wrote my response I decided it was worth developing into a blog post.
I think blogging is a natural extension from the twitterverse (or ones PLN). For me it seems kind of strange to be going “back” to blogging, because blogging is so “early” Internet. Yet, in the arena we are talking, professional educators, I believe blogging is valid and needed. Blogging allows for you to express your expertise in a more full way. I admit it, I love Twitter. I love working in 140 characters, and after you have experienced it, you realize it is a great way to learn from so many people and get connected. But sometimes you just want (need) to say more, explore more, or share more of the story. I think this is where blogging comes in. There is a few questions to ask though. First being: Why? Why blog?
Jake Standish (@edtechstandish) and I spend a lot of time talking about this kind of stuff at lunch. We are educators and care about the educative “spirit.” We desire to continually grow and stay in touch with teachers even if we are not in the classroom as much as we used to be. Something Jake has pressed us on is “Why are you doing that?”. Its not a bad question. The question at its core is: For what purpose are you going to do that activity (blog)? What is the mission or vision you have for blogging? Since we began working at the district level back in November 2010 Jake and I have explored this concept of Vision and Mission. We believe everything we do should have a vision and purpose. Without a vision or purpose you will not have a direction. It may seem strange to think about that in terms of a blog, but it is how I think. What is the vision you have for a blog? How often do you plan to blog? Why do it? When you are able to articulate that idea a little bit more then I think you will know why you want to blog.
Why do I blog? (Not that you are asking.) I blog because I like to write. I like to think about and reflect on the things I am doing. I run across so many great ideas all week I like to delve a little deeper into some. I also believe I have something to say (even if nobody is listening). I write about things I am interested in. I also blog to set the tone of why I am in the profession I am in. There is nothing hidden on my blog. I am spelling it out why I am in Instructional Technology. I am blogging my journey. Sometimes it is a reflection upon what somebody else has written, and sometimes its a tweet that needed further exploration. Ultimately I blog because I like to write and get my ideas out about what I do. I blog because I like to be creative.
Blogging is hard work though. You should know what you are getting into. I work long hours and don’t blog doing work. I do not believe it is part of my job (quite yet). I believe it helps me do my job better, but I don’t get paid to write a blog. I have a family (Wonderful Wife, and Three Boys) that I want to pay attention to and have fun with. My family is the most important aspect of this life, and I will pay attention to them first. That being said, I found it difficult to blog as much as I wanted! So, with much discussion with Jake, we decided we would try to write one blog post a week to start. This has worked for me. I get ideas and write them down in Google Doc’s. I have 10 half written or unedited blog posts in a Google Doc collection. That is where I keep my ideas and keep adding to them. I tell you this to set a goal for yourself. Blogging is hard work, like being active on twitter, but set a goal and be realistic and please don’t let it take over your life.
Why should teachers or educators blog? Off the top of my head the obvious one is MODEL. We want our students to write, we tell them how important it is to write “professionally”, but do we? I think we need to model the writing and practice of writing for students, even if it has to do with our profession and not a particular “assignment.”
I think Blogging is the natural progression for anyone in a PLN. In fact this week I spoke on that at the CMS conference. The PLN (to me and for CMS) can involved these four things: Yammer (CMS Connections), Diigo (organizing the web), Twitter (PD 24/7), and Posterous (Blogging). Which brings up the next question: Which blogging service to use. [Edited 20110807: I have switched my love for blogging to WordPress over Posterous}
So my thoughts, if you actually read that whole thing, is that you should blog. Have a vision or mission of why, set realistic goals, and enjoy the creativity that flows.