Tag Archives: technology

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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eSupervision prepares teachers 21st century style



The problem? Imagine you are a teacher educator.  Your Dean (or whomever) says to you, “We have to train our student teachers better than we are now. We also have to cut our budget by 10%.” What would your answer be?

Traditional supervision commonly involves having a student teacher work closely with a cooperating teaching in the field. A supervisor from the University will observe the student teacher periodically and monitor progress. The quality of mentoring varies from placement to placement. More often than not, student teachers are rewarded for imitating their cooperating teachers (who often use traditional lecture-style strategies) and learn little about teaching in new or innovative ways.

eSupervision model

eSupervision technology bridges student teachers with other novices and experts

Our solution? At San Diego State University, my colleague Dr. Christianna Alger and I developed eSupervision (http://www.esupervision.net) as our answer to that dilemma. With initial input and support from Drs. Nancy Farnan and Allison Rossett (to whom we owe a debt of gratitude), we developed an online system that improves the supervision of our student teachers while in the field (i.e. clinical experience).

What did we do? Using the open-source course management tool called Moodle, we developed a technology-driven cognitive apprenticeship. Cognitive apprenticeships consist of a number of elements that technology has the potential to support, including modeling, scaffolding, coaching, reflection, and community. With technology, the benefits of social constructivism and distributed cognition (see also computer-supported collaborative learning) can be more fully realized.

Supervisors engage in less face-to-face observation and more online coaching, support, and guidance. A lot more. Online discussion boards. Video. Modularized, self-paced instruction. Just-in-time support. Individualized feedback. Participation in a community of learners. We took the well-known, research-based uses of technology and pedagogy that improve student teacher supervision and blended them together in an online environment.

The results? Awesome. eSupervision students perform as well, if not better, on average than students who receive traditional supervision [we used a quasi-experimental design with matched control group]. Many eSupervision students report larger gains in self-efficacy that those who receive traditional supervision, and attribute it, in part, to greater coaching and feedback from a wider variety of experts and peers.

If you are thinking about moving towards eSupervision at your own institution, or with your own group of student teachers, please let me know how I can help. We’ve been honing eSupervision and our research on it for the better part of the last four years; I’m happy to consult or share my thoughts in greater detail.

Related publications

  • Alger, C., & Kopcha, T. J. (in press). Technology Supported Cognitive Apprenticeship Transforms the Student Teaching Field Experience. The Teacher Educator.
  • Alger, C., & Kopcha, T. J. (2009). eSupervision: A Technology Framework for the 21st Century Field Experience in Teacher Education. Issues in Teacher Education, 18(2), 31-46.
  • Kopcha, T. J. (accepted 2011). Technology as a tool for increasing self-efficacy knowledge during the field experience. Paper accepted for presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA.
  • Kopcha, T. J., & Alger, C. (accepted 2011). The impact of technology-enhanced student teacher supervision on student teacher knowledge, performance, and self-efficacy. Paper accepted for presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA.

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Jott’s no longer free

Well, good things cannot last forever, I guess. By Sept 12, 2008 the Jott service will be a service that we all pay for. I don’t think I’ll go that route. But it was fun to Jott while it lasted!

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Interactive Fiction in Action

One of my students used Interactive Fiction in his classroom and has good things to report. Read more here:


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I’m a Twitter dropout

Well, despite my many a’ blog extolling the virtues of Twitter, I have ceased to Twit (or I am one, as the case may be). Life got in the way. Which is, in essence, what Twitter is supposed to be about — everyday folks telling other folks about their everyday life. But I just lost touch with it. Which leads me to the bigger issue…


I still use Facebook. And lord knows people still flock to MySpace. But Twitter just didn’t seem to stick for me. And I hear this from many of my friends and family about all other sorts of technology — “I tried it but it just didn’t do it for me”. And I say to them…I argue with them, often heatedly, about how much better my life is with those things in it. And they say “But I just don’t have time”. So I say “But you’ll save time, you’ll see. It gets you so much more…blah blah blah”. But the irony is present and it really stings now.

Because here I am, post-twitter advocate, saying the same thing about Twitter. I feel like a hypocrite. But in my defense, I love technology tools. I love to play with them and see what they can do for me. I try my best to find a purpose for them. But with Twitter, I sound like the quips and quibbles of the folks I try to convince.

It just didn’t do it for me.

Maybe someday it will. Until then, email me. Find me on Facebook. Pick up the dang phone and give me a call. I’ll be there. Just don’t send me a tweet. Not now. Maybe my brain needs to evolve. Maybe I need to experience a greater paradigm shift. But until then…

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Today’s Student — Funny (and sad) yet true

I came across this comic from Doonesbury about the digital age and the traditional classroom. Funny, poignant (as Doonesbury always is), and also true. Read it and weep — and perhaps learn a little, too:

Doonesburys Take on Todays Student

Doonesbury's Take on Today's Student

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Why I touch my iPod touch

 iPod TouchGrowing up, my family held onto all sorts of media for far too long. I remember my friends coming over with cassettes in the 80’s and making fun of the turntable I had that also played 8-tracks (wore out Peter Paul & Mary’s Greatest Hits, too). I loved that thing — not because I refused to get with the times, though, and buy a boom box that played the latest and greatest. Rather, my love of music was cultivated by my experience with the raw power of the vinyl record.

The experience of selecting and playing vinyl engaged all the senses, and iPod has brought that back, just a little bit, with the iPod touch. It was a psrt of me I’d long forgotten — sitting over the turning record, looking over the album’s cover art. Sifting through the entire record collection, deciding which would be next. Which album cover spoke to me. It engaged my sight as well as my hearing. It make the act of selecting the next album like perusing some old museum at my leisure, fingering each album in my collection until one spoke to me.

That, my friends, is back. What really sells me is the music interface — specifically, the ability to sort through my album artwork and select the album I want to hear. The iPod touch lets me rummage through my albums, shows me the cover art, and brings back gobs of nostalgic goodness. Bless you, Apple. You’ve reminded me why listening to music is so much fun.

For more about the iPod touch, see this blog: http://blogofwishes.com/mp3video-players/the-new-ipod-touch/

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