Think Outside the Blog

For my Educational Technology 6070 class, I was asked to write a blog post about best practices for professional blogging in education. I really struggle with the idea of nailing down specific guides and rules when blogging as an educator. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for advice and tips to help someone get started, but I personally don’t feel that formulaic or even gimmicky posts brings much excitement to the education blogosphere. With that said, there are some basic ideas that can help you get started.

From my own experience following education blogs, I feel it’s important to share your unique point of view with your readers. Whether you are a principal, a librarian, or classroom teacher, you have a unique angle to share with us. Tell your stories from your point of view. Not only will you appeal to others that have a similar niche as you, but you will bring insight to others that work in other areas or education. I have learned so much from educators that work at the higher-ed level as well as from those at new schools breaking new ground and trying things beyond the traditional.

Blog for yourself. It’s so easy to get caught up in trying to create posts that appeal to the masses and lose your authentic voice in the process. We know what the masses think, they tell us all the time. Tell us what you think. Whether you are wrestling with ideas, reflecting on a project, critiquing the latest education fad, or bringing an unpopular opinion to the table, be yourself in the process. You may have disagreement from others, or readers may push you to explain your ideas more in depth. However, this opens up discussion and allows your ideas and those of your readers to change completely, alter, or even be affirmed.

I touched on this at the beginning of the post, but I think it’s the most important rule when it comes to blogging: throw the rules out the window. The moment we begin to place a blog post inside a box, we rob the words and their meaning of their potential to be something unique, original, and artistic. Yes, thats right, I feel that writing is an art and words can be used to paint a beautiful picture and tell a story of humanity. When it comes to education, in my opinion, the humanity of the profession is the most important part.

Two months ago, I had the pleasure of being a guest on The Nerdy Teacher’s podcast, The NerdyCast. The Nerdy Teacher, also know as my great friend, Nicholas Provenzano, turned the topic of the podcast to blogging at about the 18:30 minute mark (Somewhere after our praise of Education Conferences and before my in-depth and rather fascinating rant against the typeface Comic Sans).  The thing I pointed out, and still stand by, is that blogging should not be formulaic. Yes, sometimes blogs are topical, such as focusing on web tools, or may come from a specific point of view, but to follow a specific form for each post robs them of their creativity. It’s the same reason I stopped watching the television show, House, M.D. – every episode followed a specific formula with only the minor characters and the offending disease changing each week. It got boring, and so do formulaic blog posts.

I love when teachers blog as a response to inspiration and don’t tie themselves into a specific format. They find something that they enjoy sharing and writing about. Some of the greatest posts I have read were clearly a labor of love from the writer. They were creative, perhaps artistic, or even gave us a glimpse at what makes us human. I’ve read posts from writers that loves to share about a new tool and it’s use the classroom, and even an incredibly creative blog  taking a satirical look at educational technology and its slow integration into schools.

When it comes to blogging,  blog about whatever you want, just as long are you are sharing and you enjoy writing about it. Don’t get trapped by an idea of what you think a professional education blog needs to be. It’s your blog and people can always choose not to read it. Just share it all with us. Dean Shareski, who I have had the pleasure of meeting a few times, sums it up best when says that teachers have a moral obligation to share and share regularly.  I highly recommend taking 12 minutes to see some excerpts from Dean’s K12 Online Conference Keynote on sharing. If you have more time, do check out the full video. Think about how a blog can help you fulfill your moral obligation.

photo:  Adam Swank (Flickr, Creative Commons)

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About Timothy Gwynn

Tim is an Instructional Technology Facilitator in North Carolina by way of Arizona. His transcontinental experience gives him the unique ability to not only appreciate a well made glass of sweet tea, but also spell the plural form of cactus without hesitation. He currently works at a K-5 school and is passionate about Educational Technology. Tweet him at @tgwynn.
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4 Responses to Think Outside the Blog

  1. It always comes down to purpose: Why we do what we are doing.

    A formulaic blog would be good for focused, topic specific bloggers. It is also good for those who want to market something.

    Most teacher blogging is for reflection, personal growth, and sharing (as was stated in Shareski’s video). It can be about anything – which is what makes it fun! :).

  2. Carol Brown says:

    This is a perfect example of blogging for informal essay writing. The images, videos, and links entice the casual reader to stop, read, and stay awhile.

    Not sure about the RITZ cracker advertisement. I think the message gets lost in all the sound affects.

  3. Mrs4444 says:

    Hm. I’m definitely a sharer, but I’ve never thought of it as an obligation, though I agree that it’s beneficial to others. I also completely agree on the blogging for yourself advice. I guess that’s why I write a personal blog that sometimes includes education stuff, rather than the other way around. Maybe some day I’ll switch it around. 🙂

  4. I enjoyed reading your blog! I read it for a Social Learning class that I am taking. I have always been nervous to start a blog because I didn’t know what those ‘guidelines’ were. Your blog was reassuring. Here is my responce blog from reading your blog… http://goo.gl/AF93l
    Thanks!

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