That is the question. Is it better to have blogged and not been read or never to have blogged at all?
Notes to accompany CPD session 05/03/15
Blogging: is it for me?
To start with I’m going to explore some of the positives and negatives of blogging. Looking at why some people choose to blog and some people don’t.
There’ll be many more reasons than the ones I offer but this is intended to explore the issue rather than produce an encyclopaedia of reasons.
Reflective Practice: I personally enjoy blogging as a way to look back at projects I’ve tried and tease out the finer points and explore how I could improve those ideas. If I wasn’t blogging I’d still reflect but I think it places these reflections under more intense personal scrutiny.
Feedback: You will get comments; some positive and some negative. From time to time you may even get comments from people who’ve come up from under their bridges. It’s a source of dialogue and alternative views. If it keeps you thinking that has to be a good thing, right?
Community: A totally unexpected bonus for me is that the blogging community is relatively welcoming of new bloggers. Before you know it you feel like part of a community freely sharing their ideas.
Sharing: If you have a great idea and keep it to yourself your impact is far more limited than if you share it. You can have a positive impact by sharing your practice, methods, ideas and reflections.
Positivity: It’s an opportunity to share the highlights of education. Things that you or your students enjoy, best practice and celebrations of achievement. There’s enough negativity; why not share some positivity.
Time: Blogging takes time whether you like that fact or not, not just for writing but also for reflection. This can be countered somewhat by being diligent and not falling into the blog by compulsion trap, only blog when you want to. It’s hard to say no sometimes when people are asking for a contribution but unless it’s your main source of income or essential to your priorities you’re under no obligation.
Other Priorities: If something comes up that’s more important than blogging take your advice from Nike “Just do it!”
Public Eye: Don’t get excited just yet superstar, but people may read your blog. This can sometimes have negatives results and must be something to be aware of.
Ego: Some bloggers and other online educelebs sometimes start believing in their own hype. Some people might think this just because you blog despite your humility and openness. Stay honest to yourself and don’t get carried away.
Doubters: The “How do you find the time?” crowd. What they really mean is you must be missing out on another part of your life, have no friends or be doing your job badly to do this. It’s the same if you’re commited to any hobby; I get the same questions about my Ultrarunning. The reality is that you choose how to spend your time; 1 less hour watching dull TV is an hour you can spend on personal development or even…enjoying yourself. Maybe even watching good TV. Your time, your choices. Think very carefully about who you let make decisions for you.
As far as I’m aware blogging won’t make you rich and there are some potential issues but if they haven’t put you off read on…
So what types of blogs are there?
Group Blogs: Written by groups of people rather than just one these tend to give a variety in both ideas and issues covered. Getting involved in a group blog like @Pedagoo means you can share your ideas without feeling the expectation to blog regularly. It also means your early blogs get an editor to check them over. I really recommend this as a great way to start blogging from personal experience. If you enjoy it your next step might be to set up a…
Professional Blogs: These are blogs focused on writing about a specific career, in our case (assuming you are in education) things about teaching and associated issues. Keep it professional by not mentioning students names or using it as a platform to insult others. It may seem obvious but it sometimes happens.
Class Blogs: These can be about the exploits of a form class (I particularly enjoy the nursery blog from the school Finbar attends. The featured image of him is from the nursery blog.) Or you could set one up for a particular project or club where you act as the editor for students as writers. If you are setting this type of blog up remember to get permission from your school and permission slips from parents. If done correctly this can be a great way to share and celebrate student achievements.
Personal Blogs: If you want to spend a huge amount of time writing about your hobbies, recipes for lovely cakes, sharing what you eat, about your running and very little about education you may want to do this instead of a professional one, but don’t expect it to have an impact on your professional development. Nothing wrong with this but know why you’re doing it (see below.) It is ok to mention a little personal stuff on your professional blog to show a bit of personality but don’t go wild.
Things to consider…
1) Know WHY you’re blogging and pick the right style of blog for you.
2) Know how much time you’re willing to put into it; it’s (probably) not your full time job.
3) Have a look at some blogs online to get an idea of what you like and help you get an idea of what is out there.
4) Look at the different sites that host blogs. I recommend WordPress; it’s free and surprisingly easy to use. My thanks to @ICTEvangelist for recommending it to me.
Consider using one of the existing group blogs or even doing a guest blog for someone you know.
Readers: If they don’t know it’s there they won’t read it. Remember to post it on your social media, maybe send it to people who might like it by e-mail. (Don’t overdo this.) You can also tag people in a Twitter post. (Again, use sparingly.) If it’s relevant to their interests or mentions them it’s polite to tag.
As always I asked Twitter to recommend some blogs to read…
Not an exhaustive list; if you want an list of EVERY edublogger follow @oldandrewuk or @TheEchoChamber2 (Much like those ironic QI jokes on Dave you may even be reading the blog on @TheEchoChamber2.)
Look forward to reading your blogs:)
Barry Dunn – @SeahamRE