I want to know what all of these teachers are thinking. What is your
purpose? Why are you into podcasting/blogging/videocasting? What do you
hope to get out of it? Is your a blog a place to place your thoughts? A
social mechanism or do you actually have a secret mission statement? Are
you lost?
Question Asked by
Michael’s HelpDesk

Why blog? That’s the question Michael is asking in his blog entry.
Before we jump into that, I’d like to comment on something that Michael
wrote in a comment
he left regarding this
blog entry
.He wrote:

Normally I don’t like to drop any link, but in this case I think you’d
be very interested to read my blog. We have some very similar beliefs
and I’m hoping to work with people like you in the future to help get
the word out about digital literacy.

The reason why you dropped a link is the same reason many blog–to reach
out and know we’re not alone in our classrooms, trying to make meaning
from situations that are oppressive, lonely, and unrewarding. But, it’s
also to find others to share our triumphs with. And, sometimes, blogs
are the place to have real conversations…and those real conversations
can have consequences. For some, a blog is a ticking time-bomb. I know
mine is…but I was hardened to it by writing and publishing (not a
blog, just stuff in a magazine) when I was not authorized to do so.
Scary but then you realize, if I don’t write about this, then what am I?
If I can’t write about this, then what worth is the suffering, the
success that comes as a result of the trials, the benefit of sharing our
failings with others so that they might learn?

Consider the plight of Meg who wasfired
from her position for blogging
. It’s wonderful she’s chosen to name
her blog post the "I took the Green Pill," the obvious reference to The
Matrix. The red pill allowed you to continue on as always, but the green
pill…well, that changed your life forever. And, for Meg, it apparently
has:

I frequently encouraged my students to vote, to express themselves, to
blog, to make themselves heard, and to stand up and say something about
it when they didn’t like what was going on. What the hell kind of
example would it set if I didn’t stand up? Sure, folks, I can say you
should write to people, and make your voice heard, and stand up for what
you believe, but in practice, you should go home and curl up in a ball
when something lousy happens.
Read
More about Meg
and "I Took the Green Pill"

As I’ve shared before, the reason I blog is to satisfy a deep craving I
have to write and publish that writing…it is compulsive. I can write
without monetary compensation because it does something for me. While I
like to get paid, I consider writing to be one of those gifts you’re
given…you can sell the fruit but you can’t just not use it.

Blogging allows me to make my writing known to others. But, I have done
that through published articles appearing in a variety of venues. What’s
different about blogs? Well, blogs allow me to share the ideas that may
have never made it into a published article because they were too
controversial, too out there for an editor to consider…they also serve
as a catch-all for ideas and email info that just would have sat in
email. Blogs are freedom to publish whenever I want to (unless the
server is unavailable, like it is now!).

Magazine/journal/newsletter editors have a certain point of view to
promote, even if that point of view is neutral. We’ve seen that with Wes
Fryer’s experience with TCEA’s TechEdge
, and I know I’ve experienced
the same kind of "censorship" as well (with my Balance
of Power
article and the Speaking Truth to Power (read previous blog
entry with that title). Now, imagine if I had done the same as Wes and
shared what had happened. Couldn’t we as a group of writers become more
aware of what was happening, and appealed to a higher power? Perhaps, we
still can. I didn’t "get" blogging until June/July of 2005. I can’t
imagine what would have happened if I’d started blogging sooner (rather
than just
keeping a web site
where I did this type of writing).

One of the most profound, important, earth-shattering lessons I learned
as a writer using the Internet–with access provided by the Texas
Education Network (TENET)–was that I could speak directly to the most
important stakeholders…fellow educators. I could ask them for their
opinion, share ideas, and get feedback. In very real ways, email
listservs connected us at a time when each of us, alone, may have been
the ONLY person in our school who believed technology could make a
difference.

Now, text/audio/video blogs allow us to freecast our ideas, questions,
and concerns to a world. The benefit of the Long Tail is that we each
can find each other,like
nodes on the network
…much like the Escape
Velocity
video games from Ambrosia Software…to reach our
destination, we have to follow a path that will take us near multiple
systems. It is the connections we make that change our perspective. Does
anyone who’s followed the discussion on use of blogs in K-12 actually
believe I’m opposed to blogging as a way to enhance critical thinking
and reflection in K-12 classrooms? Probably not…but some might. But,
if I hadn’t presented an alternative point of view, would we have seen
the issues as clearly as we all came to see them, and certainly, as well
as Darren, Doug, Bud, Jim and others made them in their responses? I’m
glad the sparks flew. They lit a few
more fires
by which we could see better.

Michael’s link from my comment page enabled me to read what he was
thinking, an
invitation to join him in asking the question
, "Does educational
podcasting really merit all the attention it’s getting?" I don’t think
we should embrace these "new" technologies without giving serious
thought to recent history. Over the last 20 years, we’ve seen a lot of
technology come and go…rather quickly. The fact remains that this
technology came and went, and process of education remain virtually
untouched except for different versions of obsolete equipment.

Digital literacy is critical…is K-12 education the best vehicle for
promoting it? Dare we even ask this question in the midst of funding
cuts and a malaise
about tech in schools? Maybe, it’s time we walked away from schools,
saying to them, "Hey, you win! Everybody understands the need for
digital literacy but you consider Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic more
important. What gets tested, gets taught…you treasure what you
measure. So, let’s forget about wasting money on Ed-Tech, put it all
into teacher professional development, online testing, and then see
where we end up."

You know, I hear they have job openings in India and China that are just
perfect for Ed-Tech has-beens. Anyone up to the travel?


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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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