Tag Archives: social networks

Why I don’t blog more (but really, really should)

Do you blog? When was your last blog post — Days? Weeks? Months?

I blog about instructional design and technology, so the points made in this post refer to that topic specifically. My last serious set of posts was nearly two years ago. That’s a long time; if I were a dog, that’d be over 10% of my life that I wasted on activities other than blogging. Why? I’ll list my top few excuses; I bet your excuses are similar if not identical.

  • I don’t have time.
  • I have nothing new to say.
  • I’m not a good writer.
  • Blogs are for narcissists who want to hear themselves talk and be some sanctimonious windbags.

Let me address each excuse, one by one, and explain why I’ve now come to realize that I really, really should be blogging more often (and perhaps you should too).

  1. I don’t have time. Time is about priorities. If I want something, I can make it happen. For example, let’s say I want to work out. Instead of sleeping until 7:30am each morning, I could get up an hour earlier and work out. Which won’t happen until I decide that working out is more important than sleep.Same here. You won’t blog until you decide it’s more important that something else. Which means it ought to get you something. If you can figure out how blogging helps you get something you value, then you’ll do it.For me, the practice of writing — organizing thoughts, articulating them, illustrating them with images — is value added to my life. I’m a professor, so I am rewarded for writing. If there is a reward for writing in your world, blogging is for you (some blogs, like Blogger, post ads and share profits with you; money is another great motivator and offsets the loss of time nicely).
  2. I have nothing new to say. Yes, you do. Especially if you are a technology specialist who is ‘in the trenches’. I want to know what you do, why, and how. I want to know how you use technology with K12 students. Because my life is dedicated to researching that. And your blogs help me figure out what questions you want answers to.I promise others want to know your thoughts and practices. So share them. Be brief; be direct; be great. Share. I and others like me want to know.
  3. I’m not a good writer. Neither were the good writers. Until, that is,  they wrote (and wrote, and wrote, and wrote). If you teach kids to write, then you’ll be modeling excellent skills by blogging. If you want to learn to write better, most research says you need to write more to get better.Plus, writing for public consumption is a whole new ballgame. You’ll be told if you suck (And you will bet told that. Often. And it will help you get better.)
  4. Blogs are for narcissists. Umm…well…I, ah…Ok, you got me. I’ve no argument there. I love seeing how many people visit my blog each day, why they are here, and what search terms got them here. But feeding my ( and your) ego is only a small percentage of the benefits of blogging. And it’s a healthier way to feed your ego than, say, belittling everyone you interact with. Keep in mind that the biggest contributing factor to the success of most blogs IS the personality that comes through them. So letting yourself — your true self — out to the world every so often this is not entirely a bad thing…

Yes, there are hundreds of blogs out there written by folks who think their own personal Existential Crisis (and emotions that go with it) are both unique and at the same time profoundly interesting to the rest of the world. Let’s not knock them — perhaps the catharsis that comes from blogging is healing for them, and I’m on board with helping anyone who wants heal do so. (In fact, I did just that, a few times. Then I learned how self-indulgence does not an engaging blog make and moved on. See it here: https://tjkopcha.wordpress.com/2007/11/28/my-own-seldon-crisis/).

I do know that when I follow bloggers who write about what I like, I’m a better person for it. I have more ideas, I see more perspectives, and I think more broadly about the things I’m interested in. If I can do the same for someone else through my own blog entry, then I’ve just found another great reason to blog.

sign language of the word 'blog'I hope you find a great reason soon, if you haven’t already.

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You can lead a horse to Twitter but you can’t make him tweet

My Twitter PageI’ve asked, begged, bargained, goaded, and just about hunted down many friends and associates imploring them to try Twitter, but to no avail. I say “Try it. You’ll like it!”. So they try it, and in a week or two I stop seeing tweets. Why? Twitter has all the elements of a great social tool — it’s fun, it’s easy, it’s avoids the socially awkward formalities that meeting people in the real world entails, and it’s highly informative. What gives?

It could be some lofty, esoteric thing like: Hey, man, they just don’t dig the paradigm shift and since they aren’t digital natives, bra, they never will. That just seems improbable though. My spidey-senses tell me that it’s probably something more basic than that. More like: Hey man, all I ever hear about is someone telling me about the incredibly banal details of the past hour of their life . I guess I can’t necessarily argue with that. Well, I could try…

So I’ll end this post with a thought for all you folks on Twitter who, like me, hope to convert the masses from nay-ing (or neighing, to keep with the metaphor) about the idea of Twitter to tweeting like birds who flock together (Ok, I’ve pushed the whole metaphor too far now, haven’t I?).

My thought? A big part of adopting the tool is trusting that you’ll get if you take the time to give. So I think us Twitter-lovers out there should do our best to tweet more about things we do that other people can use. In my area of interest, educational technology, I try to tweet about what tools I use and how I’m using them. If we all keep doing something that, I think that will help those we lead to Twitter begin to sing like canaries themselves.
Personally, I also love hearing about how a little bit of basil in your lemongrass soup made all the difference at the local Thai place, the latest in politics, or how you can’t help but wonder why ‘woot’ ever came to be. But that’s just me. Maybe that’s why I love the idea of this tool, and I love using it. Maybe t it’s tweets like those that turn others off to the tool — I don’t know. Until the whole thing gets sorted out, though, I ask you to try Twitter (if you haven’t already) and give what you want to get in return.

If that just doesn’t work for you, you can tell me why below. I really do want to know.


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Digital Immigrants, Digital Natives – A new Marxist society?

I’ve been thinking more on this idea of digital natives — those lucky youngsters who get to think and act differently simply because they were born into the royalty of this technologically-driven society (you can find more on Marc Prensky’s site about them).Chipset

 

At first blush, the idea seems somewhat reasonable. Born in the 21st century, you rock on that iPod / Facebook / 3-D gaming world. You get to think differently, little dude, because all that technology mumbo-jumbo forces you to think like no one’s business — faster, quicker, more efficient. Born before 2002, though, born without a clue. (NOTE: I selected 2002 because it rhymed with clue, not because it is some special date worthy of note. Except for the release of Star Wars: Episode 2, which wasn’t really that worthy of note, except maybe for the fight scene with Yoda, but I digress.)

So as the idea of digital immigrants marinated in the juices of my neurons and dendrites, the metaphor began to crumble. Take, for example, many of the English-speaking natives in our classrooms. Native, yes. Do they speak fluently — for the most part, yes. But get down to brass tacks and they’ve got a long way to go before they master grammar, punctuation, spelling, and all the other nuts n’ bolts that a native speaker doth make. In fact, many never do, and subsequently massacre the language to which they are native to, both in the spoken and written language. Just look at all that IM lingo.

At the opposite end of the spectrum lies the immigrant who comes from another country. Do they think differently simply because the country they come from is not the same as the ones they live in now? I don’t know, maybe they do. They know two languages which, of course, changes the physical makeup and workings of the brain and gives a serious advantage when speaking in those countries. But I’m not sure that translates into making them better problems solvers or multi-taskers per se. People have different skills, both learned and innate, and how they use them largely determines their success in the world.

The bottom line is that it just plain ol’ doesn’t make sense to pit immigrants of any sort against their native counterparts. It’s hogwash, plain and simple. Immigrants can and do learn to function in a world that is not native to them, and natives often fail to be successful in the world they are native to. It is not a matter of where (or in the case of digital natives, when) you are born but what you do with the skills you have.

If educational technologist hope to make strides and a lasting impact in schools and in learning, I doubt creating a ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ scenario is the way to success. It’s nice for bolstering egos and smugly patting us technology lovers on the back for being so darn savvy and so downright awesome for the Internet power we wield. But it seems that such a dichotomy would simply push teachers and administrators to do the one thing that keeps much of our educational system focused on the past (to borrow more of Prensky’s words).

When push comes to shove, educators tend to shun what they don’t know or understand. Wikipedia is being banned in schools. So are wikis, google docs, and many other collaboration tools. People fear them because they don’t know enough about them. In the long run, I doubt that pointing out the fact that they are immigrants in a strange world where technology ‘explodes exponentially’ with no hope of understandin’ the new-fangled, high-falutin’ digital world like these young whipper-snappers does won’t really end up helping anyone, least of all the students.

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Digital Natives – What’s all the fuss anyways?

This year has been an exciting one for me in regards to the Internet tools that I’ve found and started using on a regular basis. Twitter, WordPress, Facebook…I’ve got them all bookmarked in a special place for easy access whenever I’m online. I’m here to admit it — I’m hooked. They all played a role in opening my eyes to new and wonderful technologies that help people teach, interact, and live.

As the new year approaches, I wonder what impact these tools will have on how people think and behave. I read a lot about digital natives how different their thinking will be in general because of their exposure to these tools at such a young age. I have well respected colleagues who agree with this, and other who disagree. Myself? I cannot predict the outcome one way or the other. I can see both sides…

Side 1: There are always some students who just plain ol’ ‘get it’. They think differently and see the world differently and will always do so, regardless of the tools that they use to learn. These are the students that embrace learning for learning’s sake and put their disbelief aside for a moment when the teacher asks them to bear with a new lesson that experiments with fancy technology. These students are generally the minority and often get overlooked in the classroom — and blogs, wikis, and other web 2.0 tools are just the thing to fill in the gaps and let them (and their learning) go hog-wild. In summary, the learner, not the tool, seem to be the focus.

Side 2: These tools revolutionize the way information is thought about and shared. Instead of seeking out information, tools like Twitter, blogs, and wikis provide the user with constant streams of incoming information. Students go from ‘go-getters’ of information to sorters of facts, opinions, and text. Any student exposed to the skills needed to find, sort, analyze, and organize (I sound so Bloom’s Taxonomy right now!) will walk away from their public schooling with a good deal more of those skills than I did 15 years ago. For the first time, the tool may introduce or perhaps force students to deal with information in a way that no generation prior to ours has, and to a greater ability range than ever before. This will profoundly impact the type of thinker that emerges from our schools. In this case the tool, and its connection to information, are the focus.

I’ve laid out two sides of this story as I see them. My point is simply this — never before have I had so much access to such high quality information about what I do and how I spend my time. I’ve got access to blogs about surfing, educational technology tweets, technology wikis, blogs about making videos, videos themselves, and countless other topics. I’m amazed by it all, and here is why…

The way I use my time in a given day is changing, and will continue to change the more I use these tools.

I thought I was a good multitasker before this year – I was kidding myself. I have a long way to go if I want to take advantage of the information that is out there without fruitlessly burning through the hours of the day. I have made some improvements…I no longer focus on how and where to get information from – it just comes to me with RSS feeds and such. Instead, I think about how to manage my time so that I get the maximum use from these tools. I use them to enhance my performance at my job, share stories and updates with my family, communicate with my home when I am away, and a handful of other benefits.

The bottom line is that I do more in less time than I did a year ago, and I can’t imagine what I’ll be doing a year from now or how I’ll be getting it done. I know it will be different than this year, and probably better. Our kids, our students, our next generation of citizens — the ones we guide and influence as we teach and work with teachers — will have this experience and access to technology from a very early age. What will it mean to them?

What does it mean to you?

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