(This is part of an experiment I am trying to expose my readers to a larger audience by inviting guest bloggers to my site. In exchange, I promised to write an entry for any blogger that sent me one for their site. Miguel was kind enough to take me up on the offer.)
When I first started writing a blog I did it to show my employees that they could write one too. I never did it to make a name for myself, become famous, or even to “network.” I merely did it to show that if I could do something like create a blog or make podcasts then anybody could make a blog or create podcasts.
Over the course of the years while I’ve been writing blogs and doing podcasts something funny happened: I have in the last few years met more people, learned more things, and have been influenced professionally more than any other time in my 22 year education career. Just looking back over the names of people that I’ve met at conferences because of my blogging, people I’ve interviewed over podcasts and people have asked for help looks like a Who’s Who of education technology. That was completely unexpected!
When I started this there was no way that I thought I was there to be meeting Marco Torres. There was no way that I thought I would meet Miguel Guhlin.
Or David Warlick.
Or Ian McIntosh.
Or Silvia Martinez, or any of the other host of brilliant people. It certainly has been one of the greatest learning experiences of my life.
I feel that I have learned more in the last few years that I have learned in my entire education career. If Ph.Ds were awarded for experience, then I would have received one just from communicating with these great people.
In just a few years I have interviewed people like Prakash Nair the world’s leading expert in school design. I’ve interviewed authors like NYT bestseller Ori Brafman , I have interviewed leaders in education technology like Milton Chen Executive Director EdUtopia, spoken to folks from MIT like Dr. Alice Robison, and on and on and on. And because they are podcasted or written interviews, they are saved for anyone to hear or read.
It amazes me what I’ve been exposed to. I have explored websites that I never would have gone to normally. I have learned things that I have never imagined even existed. And I’m not some kind of weird paparazzi guy that goes around taking pictures or carrying a microphone either. When I see something interesting or read something interesting on the net, I sent an e-mail, and ask “Hey can I interview or can you do about and online interview with me?” I would say in 90% of the cases people have written back and said they would love to do an interview with me, because they have something to say as well, and they want as many people to know about what they’re if they think is important as it possibly can get their voices heard.
So why do I even bring us up? Why is this important? Because there’s nothing about me that a special. I have no doctorate, there’s nothing that differentiates me from you, there’s nothing that makes me stand out. If I can do this you can do this. If you can do it your students can too. If your students can do it than they can open up the world beyond just the four walls of their classroom. If you’ve been reading this blog, and you’re not taking part of the conversation then you need to start taking part. Mi amigo Miguel is a wonderful example of someone that has taken blogging to the extreme, Web 2.0 to the max, and just by looking at the number of hits his site gets its pretty darn obvious that a whole lot of people are watching what he’s doing. I’ve met Miguel and I consider Miguel one of my friends, and I’ll tell you other than his insane ability to take notes at a breakneck speed, Miguel has no secret ability. He’s not Superman and he does things just like I did albeit a lot faster. None of these people are supermen. They are just normal educators that feel that they need to be part of a larger conversation.
YOU need to be part of the larger conversation.
Blogging, microblogging, podcasting and using the tools that are free for the taking out there is the fastest, most effective way to expand your professional learning community beyond your campus.
So I guess what I’m trying to say here is if Miguel can do it and I can do it then anybody can do it and certainly you can do it. Make a pledge to yourself that you are going to start taking part of the conversation. Start a blog today. It doesn’t have to be on education technology it can be on something that interests you: food, knitting, model rockets, your favorite TV show; it doesn’t matter. Whatever you want you can become part of the larger conversation. It’s free, it just takes a little time, and instead of being just a spectator in the sport you become a participant in the sport. And if you think you get a lot just by reading, or listening I can guarantee you that you get a lot more by participating.
Tim Holt is the Director of Instructional Technology for the El Paso ISD in El Paso Texas.
Tim Holt’s Education Site is called Intended Consequences, and gets about as many hits in a year as Miguel’s gets in an hour. But he still does it because he likes being part of the conversation.