Tag Archives: SEO

Why Blogging is Important for Educators – A Personal Perspective

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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

Increase Visibility

  • 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.

Modeling

  • 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 …

  1. Reflect
  2. Share resources and classroom successes/student work
  3. Express a personal and/or professional point of view
  4. Connect with and help others locally and globally
  5. Engage their creativity
  6. Stay relevant and keep growing
  7. 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?


Resources

Posts about Blogging

Getting Started with a Blog

A Few of my Favorite Education Blog Hubs

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Optimization for Education?

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SEO or search engine optimization is increasingly on my radar these days. Almost daily, I see posts about it on sites like Mashable and tweets about it in my various Twitter streams. It wasn’t that long ago that I was still trying to learn and remember what the acronym stood for but over the past few months I have come to see how valuable SEO can be.

For those of you who are new to this term, search engine optimization refers to “the active practice of optimizing a web site by improving internal and external aspects in order to increase the traffic the site receives from search engines” as defined by SEOmoz. This means that you examine your website to ensure that there is consistency in your naming practices, that your links are updated and active, that your content is original and new, and that you have social media sharing tools embedded on every page.

Of course, there are a number of other factors that affect SEO, many of which I am still learning. Luckily, there are a lot of helpful resources on the web to find out how SEO works. For example, I attended a great webinar by Kuno Creative titled “Inbound Marketing: The New SEO Facts, Figures, and Data” which helped clarify the connection between inbound marketing (if you’re new to this term, check out this great infographic) and SEO. Through that webinar, I was able to find out about updates to Google’s search algorithm and how it rewards sites for providing good content that people want to share across the web. I also learned more about the importance of having numerous keywords appear in search engine results that will drive traffic to your site. Other resources, like SEOmoz’s extensive “Beginner’s Guide to SEO” and Google’s “Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide” have also been invaluable in my journey to understand SEO and its effect on my websites.

Yet, the more I learn about SEO, the more I begin to wonder about the implications of SEO for educators and educational organizations or nonprofits. Many of these groups have few employees and little funding and most of the educators I know dedicate much, if not all, of their time to designing lesson plans and preparing innovative and engaging projects for their students. All of which leaves little time to learn about SEO and apply the related practices to their company websites or personal blogs. Meanwhile, large companies hire full-time “search engine optimizers” or companies like Hubspot to help them with this work.

Does this difference in SEO resources and management capacity matter? Do educators, schools, and educational organizations need to be concerned with SEO? A few months ago, I would have said no – SEO is something that only businesses and companies trying to sell products deal with and need to worry over. Now, I’m not so sure. As I prepare to launch my own new website for early childhood educators to learn about using technology to create global learning experiences, I’m conscious of the fact that I would like my site to be easily found in search engines. I want educators to be able to find the free resources and tools I have collected without having to search ten pages of Google results before stumbling upon the site.

Watching the analytics for this blog, I can see how much traffic search engines can bring to a site and I want other educational websites and blogs to be accessible and easily found by families, teachers, and administrators who want to learn about educational issues. So, I’m left wondering about the importance of SEO for education and about whether there is a way to make information about SEO more accessible and understandable for educators and their related organizations. I want to optimize education so that it is a topic that has a fighting chance at being ranked in search results. I think educators easily have the “fresh” content that Google is looking for, I’m just not sure if they are always aware of how that content has to be coded and marketed to be optimized for search results.