Archive for the 'blogging' Category

A new identity – I’m a blogademic!

I had not realized that higher faculty who blog have a name – “blogademics.”  I discovered this term while reading an article in the Fall 2008 issue of Thought & Action (an NEA publicationby Douglas Harrison entitled “Scholarly voice and professional identity in the Internet Age.”  In this piece Harrison discusses the tensions between what some see as the traditional role of an academic with that of contemporary culture, especially a culture that involves avenues for open expression such as blogs (and I would add other web 2.0 tools too).  He refers to himself as a “blogademic” as he bridges his personal and professional life through his varied blog posts.  He has written over 2 million blogging words in his 4 years of blogging.  Although I am just a novice to the blogging world, I think I might take on this identity of a “blogademic” and see how it fits.  I might like it.

While reading the article, I also checked clicked on a few references (which I always find to be new sources of learning).  One from Slate.com was a 2005 article about the risks that academic may face as they blog.  “Attack of the Career-Ending Blog” by Robert Boynton reports on the risks that academics who blog face as they search for tenure track positions in higher education.  The piece describes how search committees and others involved in hiring use the Internet to search candidates names and then read what they wrote. And what they read can be either harmful or advantageous to someone’s candidacy.  I have certainly heard some college administrators warn new faculty about blogging and even go so far as to tell them not to blog.  This reaction seems to me to be a bit too extreme.  Better advice would be to urge faculty to be careful in what they write and keep in mind that the public audience they are writing for is just that – public.  And you can never know who the public is or what power it might have in determining one’s livlihood.  Sensibility and responsibiliy can go a long way, says this blogademic.

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Beth Knittle on Twitter

Last month at the MassCue conference I attended a fabulous workshop focusing on Twitter as a form of professional networking by Beth Knittle (with Wes Fryer).  Many of the themes arising from my work this semester were also ones voiced by Beth and Wes.  For example, Beth reported that she had learned more in the past 4 years involving  instructional technology than her entire career as an educator.  I can certainly understand her comment.  There is so much to learn (and it changes weekly) and so many venues for that learning to occur, that the knowledge can seem exponential. I have to say that my own learning curve has also increased significantly these past few months, and I am still a “newbie” about it all. Another remark that resonated with me was made by Wes when he said that as educators we must personally use these web-based tools before we can effectively figure out how to use them in the classroom to enhance the goals we have for our students.

His statement made me recall the initial intent of my semester-long study about Web 2.0.  I naively thought that I could study the applications of Web 2.0 in the classroom before I really understood how individual tools (and there are many) work.  After a few weeks reading about what teachers were doing in their classrooms through blogs and wikis, I quickly realized that I needed to know far more about these tools, and I could only learn about them by exploring them on my own.  This maneuver is not only new to Web 2.0 tools, but to any educational content worth teaching.  The idea of “playing” with the tools reminded me of the notion of “messing about” which Eleanor Duckworth at Harvard Graduate School of Education not only wrote about but incorporated in her assignments for graduate students.  “Messing about” is necessary to understand many concepts in math and science (before they can be taught) and it is equally necessary (if not more so) in regards to educational technology. So, even though my graduate experiences were long ago, they echoed back to me quite emphatically this semester.

Back to Twitter…Beth framed her work with Twitter within the context of creating professional learning networks.  Twitter, a site for micro-blogging, allows educators to quickly find answers to their questions or pose solutions to issues that other educators are experiencing.  Twitter (along with Plurk) are widely used by educators for a variety of reasons and content specialities – Web 2.0 among them.  This social networking tool is very effective for quick communication for specific purposes, and within a short amount of time individual educators can acquire many “followers.”  Followers are an important means of connection – connection being a recurrent theme throughout the conference.

Beth and Wes left us with some useful advice and some blogs and wikis to access for futher our learning.  Thus, I have taken their advice to “play” by signing up for a Twitter account.  I welcome some followers at http://twitter.com/slaw33.  Thanks to Beth for getting me started.

Blogs as coffeehouse

Yesterday I felt the need to break away from the computer screen.  I found myself getting bogged down with blogs – reading them, bookmarking them, linking from one to another.  I couldn’t keep up, so I got off.  The sun was shining, the air temperature was pleasant, and some sparrows were taking sand baths in the garden.  It all looked tempting, so I headed out to sit in the sun and read something different – like a book.  I had been hearing about Wikinomics for some time.  I knew about wikis and given the current turmoil in the economy, I thought to myself “why not find out how the two are related.”  Wikinomics: How mass collaboration changes everything by Tapscott and Williams (2008) is a  fascinating look at Web 2.0 technology and how various segments of society are using these tools.  Although the book focuses on business, many other disciplines are involved which really is at the heart of what the authors maintain: collaboration among and across disciplines is the new way to progress.  The authors have a website also called Wikinomics complete with many of the web-based tools discussed where among other things you can order the book, blog, participate in the wiki, and more.  Although I have only read a few chapters, I have found a few ideas compelling.  One – that blogs are “the world’s biggest coffeehouse.” Given my love for espresso and my new interest in blogs, this notion was particularly appealing.  Another concept involves a new verb – peering.  Peering involves collaboration among peers to produce new things.  The authors describe it as a horizontal formation rather than a hierarchical one.  Although peer production has been very successful in information industries, the authors speculate that it can be applied to other enterprises as well.  One other point that I noted was this statement “There are always more smart people outside your enterprise boundaries than there are inside (p.45).  So, those are my preliminary thoughts about it all at this moment.  As I conclude, i just realize that this post (and maybe other posts too) can function as a reservoir my reflections on reading.  Another use for blogs!  I guess I’ll keep at it.


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