I have the privilege of serving as a Specialist in Technology, Education, and Society Altering Environments, an undergraduate education course at Bryn Mawr College (my alma mater!) this semester. I will be providing support to the class around blogging and the WordPress platform so I thought what better way to dive in than to post something on my own WordPress blog?
Preparing to work with the class led me to reflect on some of my own motivations to blog and why I think blogging is important not only for educators but for students too. I published my first post almost four years ago, just as I was starting out as an Education and Technology Consultant. As an educator, I was excited to launch a digital space that would be open 24/7 where I could capture ideas and share reflections. I also knew that I needed a more visible and formal online presence to share with potential consulting clients so they could get to know me and what I could offer. Since then, I have started a second website (also built on WordPress but run by Edublogs) where I publish multiple blogs (Tech Tips, Tech Projects, Maker Club Updates) to share with different audiences. So over time, my reasons to blog have grown and changed a bit but here are the main ones that motivate me.
My Reasons to Blog
- This was one of the first, driving factors that pushed me to take the plunge and post something publicly. I wanted to have a public website that I could use to market my skills, background, and experience and part of how I wanted to do that was through blogging. I knew that if I had a digital space that I made public, I could link it to all of my social media accounts and send out updates as I blogged about issues and ideas that were important or intriguing to me. Then, as I published posts, I could hopefully gain some subscribers and increase my own SEO.
It’s my medium
- Another reason I chose blogging is because it is a good medium for me personally. I’m a writer and I have found that sharing my thoughts, reflections, and resources through text is usually the best way for me to reach other people compared to other mediums (e.g., artwork or public speaking). Therefore, blogging and blog platforms became my tool of choice. If I did happen to be an artist, I probably would have chosen Instagram or if I were a speaker, maybe Soundcloud so I could podcast. Finding what works best for you and then which mediums best represent that type of content is very important. One reason I chose Tumblr to share about my work with Google Glass was because I found it to be more visual and I knew I’d primarily be sharing photos and videos, but I also wanted to be able to write and add links, which is much harder with a platform like Instagram.
Space for Reflection
- My absolute favorite reason to blog is because it provides a medium and a shared space where I can reflect on my professional work and the things I am learning. Through writing and reflecting, I am better able to synthesize ideas and have those “ah-ha” moments that lead to an exciting new project in my classroom, a model for professional development at my school, or a way to use a new tool I have just discovered. Blogging is also powerful because it allows my reflections to be created on a public, digital canvas where I can embed multimedia to connect people, places, ideas, and tools through integrating drawings, photos, videos, tweets, and other links.
Building Connections Through Sharing
- This is probably my second favorite reason to blog and I think one of the coolest things about the tools and tech we have access to today. Blogging allows me to share what I have learned at a conference or from trying a new ed tech tool and through that sharing I can build connections with other educators, innovators, entrepreneurs, and professionals. Blogging facilitates relationship-building, many times with people who I might never meet and that live across the globe. Through these connections, I am able to broaden my own PLN and open doors for new collaborations, classroom projects, and friendships.
Creating Digital Documentation
- One of the great things about blogging as a professional is that you are automatically creating digital documentation of your work and learning. Capturing this over time can be instrumental in helping show current and future employers the projects that you have worked on, things you have learned attending conferences and PD workshops, and your own personal voice in the field. I have really enjoyed documenting my professional growth here on this blog and I find it valuable to go back and look through past posts a few times a year to reflect on my journey. Documenting my work has been especially valuable on my school blog because it allows me to share snapshots of students’ learning with families and other educators and see where to go next with a unit or idea while also examining what we have done before.
- The final reason that I blog is to model what blogging can look like and demonstrate my investment (time, energy, digital space, and even money) in the practice for colleagues and others who I might encourage to blog. I believe that “if you’re going to talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk” and so if I want to support blogging as an important professional practice, I have to be a blogger myself. I believe blogging is also a great practice for students because it can be instrumental in helping them to develop a positive digital identity (and practice good digital citizenship). I blog in part so that I can talk to my students about blogging and understand the experience in hopes of better connecting with them as young bloggers.
There is a seemingly endless array of articles, and yes, blog posts, talking about the value of blogging and why educators should blog (see the short list below for inspiration). Although each article takes a different perspective on the topic, there are definitely some themes that come up again and again and you’ll notice many of them overlap with my own.
Collective Educators’ Reasons to Blog
Educators Blog to …
- Share resources and classroom successes/student work
- Express a personal and/or professional point of view
- Connect with and help others locally and globally
- Engage their creativity
- Stay relevant and keep growing
- Network professionally
So what’s the value in blogging? Aside from all of the benefits and experiences listed above, blogging helps create a vital community. It’s a community that gives everyone involved a chance to grow together, with and from one another, and to become better educators – both teachers and learners. Blogging creates the foundation for global relationships and breaking down barriers to knowledge and understanding across geographic, political, philosophical and many other lines.
Now imagine if you never knew anything about blogging … if you could never reflect in a shared space, express your voice, build meaningful global relationships, or market yourself as a professional. What if none of that (e.g., knowledge, internet, freedom) was accessible to you?
Share your reactions in the comments and let me know, do you think blogging is valuable for educators?
Posts about Blogging
- 9 Reasons Why Teachers Should blog – Tsisana Palmer (Edutopia), 2015
- Why Teachers & Students Should Blog – Hanna Shekhter (Edudemic), 2015
- Amplify Your Voice: The Secrets of Rising Edtech Bloggers – Paul France (EdSurge; 5 min in), 2015
- Potential Power of Blogging for Pedagogy – Deborah McCallum (EdTechReview), 2014
- Why Great Teachers Blog (Milken Educator Awards)
- Learning with Blogs and Wikis – Bill Ferriter (ASCD), 2009
- Rationale For Educational Blogging – Anne Davis (Edublog Insights), 2007
- To Blog or Not to Blog – Lucie deLaBruere (Action Research), 2005
Getting Started with a Blog
- Tips: Start Your Teaching Blog
- Blogging in the Classroom – How to Get Started
- How Educators Can Start Blogging
- Blogging Basics 101 – Beginner’s Guide in 2015
- WordPress Basics – Women’s Coding Initiative (coupon!)
A Few of my Favorite Education Blog Hubs