Warning: this post is opinionated, self-revelatory, and full of more questions than answers — all the qualities that people who hate blogs cite as reasons for hating blogs.
Confession: I was once a blog-hating person.
When I first started keeping a blog, it was to fulfill a course requirement last spring. I even asked aloud in class, “Does the world really need another blog?” I honestly can’t remember the professor’s response to that utterance, because by March it didn’t matter. I was hooked.
Last night after an agonizing few days of emailing back and forth with a local community leader in which I tried to express the shortcomings of our school system’s web publishing policies, which seem to discourage student- and teacher-generated blogs, I sat at the dinner table feeling a bit demoralized. “I am so far removed from my original intent when I started graduate school. I don’t know what I’m doing anymore,” I told my husband.
How did I become this strident techno evangelist, selling salvation to sinners who think file sharing is the same as an email attachment and who still worship PowerPoint as the new posterboard?
Confession: I still use my cell phone strictly for making and receiving phone calls, every time I try to send a text message to my brother I screw it up, and until very recently I thought LOL meant “lots of love.”
Originally, all I wanted to do was learn how to build web pages. At my former high school, which hasn’t had a student newspaper since the 80s, I longed for a space where kids could publish for journalistic and literary purposes — a web-based newspaper, or possibly a literary e-zine.
If you could only read the statement of purpose I submitted with my grad school application 18 months ago! Here’s a snippet:
At the very least, I am hopeful that my coursework will equip me with the technical skills needed to develop a digital-age scholastic journalism program at Fulton High School, where I have taught since 1999. It is a personal and professional goal of mine to assist Fulton students in launching a journalistically sound online newspaper.
Not one mention of podcasts, wikis, or blogs. Why? I didn’t know that stuff existed!
Now “blogs” is tied with “Web 2.0” as the third most populated category on ThinkTime. I’m obsessed with these tools and how to leverage them for my own personal and professional growth, and I want to share that excitement with others without alienating them or freaking them out.
But sometimes it seems I’m thinking more about the blog than through it. (As I compose this post at 10:30 on a Saturday night, I should be drinking a glass of red wine and watching Blades of Glory with the hubbie.) And, since making the decision to relocate, rename, and reformulate this blog a few weeks ago, I’ve been thinking even more about blogs:
- Should I maintain anonymity, cultivate an online personality, or just be myself?
- In addition to being a university student, I am also a parent, a part-time employee at a nonprofit with deep ties to our local school system, and a former employee of said school system: should there be a disclaimer on ThinkTime in which I claim my opinion as my own and no one else’s? (I finally decided to follow Christian Long’s advice.)
- Would my learning improve if I spent less time on my personal blog and more time in high-traffic forums and online communities like those found in Classroom 2.0?
- Will the passions near and dear to my heart — writing, publishing, language arts and media education — ever gain foothold on the pages in this site?
- Am I contributing to the the ripe environment or just whistling in the wind?
Confession: I am an unapologetic teacher/learner on the upside of the learning curve, and I am having a blast!
And the more I read, the more convinced I am that falling under the spell of these powerful tools is a normal step in discipleship. In this post at LeaderTalk, a school administrator recognizes the learning curve and “wow” factor that must precede any new venture on the read/write web. And I take great comfort in Bud the Teacher’s post, in which he acknowledges the need for play and experimentation before the teacher/learner can connect technology effectively to his or her classroom practice.
So, once again the question is: should we teach about the tools or through them?
The answer: Yes!
What do you think?