Blogging to Learn

Jason Bedell has written 20 blogs in a Professional Development 2.0 series.  It’s worth a look.  I particularly like blog #15 titled Writing to Grow.  Blogging, for me, is a great way to learn out loud.  Writing is the best way to find out what you think; it forces an articulation of beliefs with (or without) supporting evidence.  Blogging has largely replaced my journalling with the added benefit of reader comments.  It forces a daily routine of reading broadly and research probes that promote focused learning (and occasional serendipity).  Here’s Jason’s post, hope you enjoy it and the rest:

Social bookmarking and social networking, as powerful as they are, can both have a tendency to be somewhat superficial in isolation. You can share a link or a short idea, but where is the authentic interaction? Sometimes, people need to post their thoughts or share tools and ideas in more than 140 characters. So, how can people do this? The answer, for most, lies in reflective writing and responding, usually done on a blog.
A good approximation is difficult, but somewhere in the neighborhood of 80-90 percent of teachers who I follow on Twitter have their own blog. There are several reasons to write a blog.
Many people’s thoughts become crystallized as they write. Blogging does not only help people to express what they think; it gives them a viable method to determine what they actually feel. Blogging is one of the most effective ways to reflect on personal practice.
Learning does not occur in isolation. Interaction is vital and comments are the lifeblood of any blog. There is no limit on what you can say in a comment, so you have the space to fully develop your thoughts and reactions. Commenting is what allows interaction on a private blog. It helps to create a sense of community when educators who network on Twitter help each other by commenting on blogs. Self-reflection, the reason for a lot of blogging, is very helpful, but sometimes it helps to have a more objective perspective on a situation. Feedback is what helps us grow.
Blogging also helps you to learn how to write responsibly as there is the potential of a worldwide audience. In the 7 months that I have kept a blog, I have been able to reach people in every continent except Antarctica. It is incredibly humbling to realize that people in so many different countries took the time to specifically look at what I had to say on different issues. I feel honored and it is my hope that I was able to help the educators that have come to look at my blog and their students. The primary reason for my blog was originally a place where I could reflect on my profession, but it has grown into a more dynamic environment where I am able to interact with others from all over the world. Growing a blog audience takes a significant amount of time, so the primary reason to start a blog needs to be personal. If what you care about is only the statistics page that shows you how many people looked at your blog, you will be sadly disappointed and lose motivation. Below is a picture of the visitors to my blog from the last 30 days. As you can see, there is one awesome day, many mediocre days, and many bad days. Thankfully, making money and tracking visitors are not why I started writing. Write for yourself and focus on publishing only quality content and your visitors will increase naturally.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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