Summer Renewal 2: Drink From the Fire Hose

The development of the read/write web has made it much easier for people to post content online. We’ve moved away from a few people posting relatively static “reference” materials online to a LOT of people expressing opinions, reflecting on experiences, and holding conversations.

Because of The Long Tail, some of these people are a lot like you. Maybe you’re the only music teacher in your elementary school. Or maybe you’re the only media specialist in your school district. You might be the only second grade teacher that you know with any interest in online learning. But that doesn’t mean you’re alone anymore. There are others like you out there who are just as disconnected, and you can talk to them.

From MorguefileBlogging is easy. But before you start your own blog (which we’ll talk about later this summer), take a look at what others are doing. Read what they’re saying. Post comments. Engage in the conversation.

How do you find blogs? The easy answer is to use Technorati. That’s the Google for blogs. They specialize in blog indexing and searching, and have over 75 million blogs in their database. If you’re specifically looking for education blogs, you can look at the list in the Teacher Toolkit, or this list from the Online Education Database. In reality, though, I find blogs in two ways: either I Google a topic and look at blogs in the search results, or I follow links from other blogs.

They’re all connected, see. I read Alvin’s blog pretty regularly. On a recent post, John Rappold made a comment. John has his own educational technology blog which is well worth reading. John has a link to John Rundag’s blog, which is also pretty good. And so the chain continues. I wouldn’t have known about these guys if I hadn’t read Alvin’s blog. The really flattering thing is that they all link to mine, too.

My point is that you just need a place to start. Find one really good blog related to something you’re interested in. Then, just start following the links to other blogs. If you’re looking for educational technology related blogs, here are just a few great places to start:

There are two keys to tapping in to the community. The first is to follow the links on the blogs. If you like what Jen has to say, take a look at the other blogs she’s linking to. Follow the chain. You’ll soon see that there are a few people that a lot of others link to. Those are the really great blogs. The four blogs above are all written by people I know but haven’t met. They’ll set you on the right path.

You can probably see what’s coming next. But hold your horses. It’s a long summer.

The other really important thing is to comment on the blogs you’re reading. Chip in with your two cents. React. Debate. Keep them honest. Extend the discussion. That’s what blogs are for. Get used to providing your perspective.

Assignment: Visit at least two blogs that you haven’t seen before, either using the ones above or others that you find by searching. Then, visit at least one additional blog by following a link from another blog. Finally, post at least one comment on a blog post, contributing to the conversation.

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