Over at TechLearning.com blog, there’s a blog entry about the “Death of a Blogger Part II.” One of the points that Ryan Bretag makes includes this one:
The bottom line is that blogs need to evolve or face a sure death of stagnation and lack of change capability. For me, it starts with evaluating how well blogging is functioning as a collaborative tool that adds value to the educational community.
He goes on to write:
There are times when I ponder what the goal is for the edublogger community. Obviously, there will be those that immediately move to the power of blogging is that it is about the individual; it is about whatever that person wants it to be about.
While this is true, I would hope the end goal for edubloggers is improving education and that the goal of individual blogs or community blogs will focus on how they are helping to achieve this larger community goal.
I disagree with the bottom line idea expressed here. Blogs are as alive as the people who keep them, the people who join the conversation, but in the end, blogging is a conversation with the author of the blog. Should blogs be pushed to be MORE than that?
I would suggest that a blog assuming a role beyond what it was intended for is a mistake. A blog or the blogging process has no reason to evolve in itself. The person who writes the blog may start out with the desire to transform education, but because a blog is intensely personal, blogging is about achieving personal transformation, not societal change.
In other words, I start out to change myself, others see my change and may be inspired to achieve societal change. When I invite educators to keep a blog, I certainly do not exhort them to change the world. Such a goal is arrogant. Rather, I hope that through their own blogging and personal transformation, they will increasingly become agents of transformation. The burgeoning changes, the transformation that results from unleashing the creative power of educators previously muzzled throughout the years could bring about a change greater than what well-meaning societal change advocates might imagine.
When Ryan asks, “How many blog posts are stretching your thinking?” I remember a walk I took with my daughter when she was 2.5 to 3 years old. As I watched her take her first steps outside, her foot hesitating in mid-air above a speed bump, slowly being angled in a way appropriate to the inclination of the speed bump, I marvelled at the thinking reflected on her face.
The speed bump, however insignificant now that she’s older, presented a challenge to how she walked as a youngster. I imagine that for someone as sophisticated as Ryan, and other edubloggers, newer blog posts aren’t challenging their thinking. Yet, I find myself remembering that each of us is on a journey of transformation that intersects in a manner that is richly provocative, constructive and instructive. Let’s be careful not to confuse the REAL intent of blogs with what we desire. I am struck by Suzanne Shank’s (The TechTrainer) writing, in response to my blog entry, Transparency Hurts? She writes:
I was going to blog more on this topic but some amazing bloggers have already said it better than I could…I started blogging and getting more involved in the edtech virtual communities because I was under the impression that I could only make steps forward in my career by doing so, especially because there’s hardly anything going on with edtech jobs in my city. It doesn’t seem as if more than a handful of local education professionals I know even read blogs or use social networking; they kind of see me as a geek/fanatic…We can choose to blog about only non-controversial topics, reveal only our expertise, and come across as wise but boring pedagogues, or we can get real and reveal (in a professional way) our questions, concerns, foibles, and opinions. The same goes for comments and forums. I wish I knew the best course. I will be anxious to read your feedback
This is a challenge I encountered in my early blogging. Since someone else–obviously, a better writer than I–had written about this subject, I should remain mute on the subject. But the fact is, no one is able to filter what has been said through my own life experience better than I. In other words, I AM an expert on what needs to be said. So what if others have written a learned treatise on a topic? How is that reflected in my own life, if at all? And if it is–or isn’t–what do I think about that? How am I growing–or not–in response to that? I began blogging to explore this new Read/Write Web because I was ignorant…I felt I had little choice; it was grow or stagnate, a fate worse than death. Only a handful of local education professionals even read blogs or use social networking. Over time, it has had a profound effect on me professionally and personally as a human being.
For me, Suzanne’s step forward here enabled her to grow professionally. But it’s not all about professionalism, it’s also about personal growth. As she wisely points out, blogging is about getting “real” and reveal our questions, concerns, foibles, and opinions. In other words, dig deeper than the surface thinking that characterizes our twitteresque, politically correct interactions. It is about shedding those “PC” interactions and digging deeper that is, perhaps expected or desired, in face to face professional settings. Obviously, I have considered the power of transparency in my posts to reflect positively on my personal growth, negatively on my professional advancement. However, Scott McLeod’s comment reminds me, l
To adapt Ryan’s description of what blogging is about…
Blogging is about the depth of thought and the creation of a critical document that while self-broadcasted, enables one to think at greater depths about an idea, concept, or situation. I wonder, though, how much of this is really happening on blogs.
I’ve bolded my changes above. I wonder as well. Each of us, as bloggers, has the opportunity to explore our ignorance, to advance our learning, one blog entry at a time. It may be that alone, an entry may not be deep or stimulate social change. But taken collectively, an aggregation of thinking done daily or weekly, we see the journey of the blogger from over there to here. Who are we to disparage the journey taken? How can we gauge the transformational power of a mustard seed when it is still, a seed?
One of my favorite quotes, one that I’ve been meditating on is “If a seed is planted into the ground and it does not die, it remains a seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds and seedlings and those seeds and their seedlings produce much fruit.”
Each time we write about how we’re changing our own practice, advancing a step at a time, we die to the old ways of doing things, those ways that are no longer relevant. We begin a process of transformation that moves us, however slowly, to think at greater depths about an idea, concept or situation. I see blogs as a way for educators to be resurrected, to be raised up. As Ms. Whatsit says, it is a way to transformation….
I too am going through a transformation thanks to blogging. Since 2005, I have blogged in fear of reprimand from the real people in my real world. . .When I write and read what other bloggers have to say, I find myself reflecting deeply, growing and evolving in the process. . .A lot has been written and debated about the purpose of blogging. Is it just a reflective exercise where we lay out our thoughts throwing caution to the wind or do we have a responsibility to consider our audience and write for them? I have waffled here, and I wonder if we are missing the point when we try to decide that we must choose one way or the other.
Thanks Ryan–all of you–for your reflections.
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