I haven't had much time for any reflective writing of late although I've written a few comments on various blogs that deserve some further exploration in my own space. It all ties back to this idea I've been toying with in terms of attracting more teachers to be part of online conversation and sharing their ideas and resources with each other. I feel that it's important that educators take advantage of the opportunities for personal learning growth and apply some of that opportunity back with their students. Way back, I pontificated about "flattening the pyramid of influence" and still see enormous potential in teachers leveraging technology to influence educational practice at the grass roots level. Over at Ewan McIntosh's blog, he raised the point that as more edubloggers have come on board, that some of the cross linking and referencing is starting to become more localised -
And I'm seeing the "can't quite comprehend" in the way the edublogosphere links to each other - or doesn't. I've certainly noticed far fewer links going to the main Scottish and English blogs from our American counterparts. NZ and Australians are linking more to each other than outside. I'm finding many of the previously fascinating insights into technology and education becoming less relevant and more, well, moany than I've ever seen before.
- the example he used was a new wave of Australian and New Zealand bloggers. Putting aside the fact that close geographical proximity can still mean vastly different countries, cultures and education systems, I put it to Ewan that the new form of cross linking has more to do with position in the education system.
...it could be that there are more classroom based educators reflecting and connecting that are finding a voice that are changing the dynamics away from the more well known, keynote invitee, big picture bloggers. It's not necessarily a bad thing but maybe the flattening is at that level of the "ordinary teacher" is being empowered to be heard at the same level as the bigger names from a year or so ago. Maybe edubloggers are searching for people who can understand their particular cog in the education machine.
By that, I mean that I'm seeing more classroom based bloggers who, while being interested in new tech tools and the big global picture of where education is going, are more focussed on blogging about their own practice and the links that they make are more about creating opportunities for their students. Part of the shift is about voice - who's going to connect only to the Read/Write evangelists and be comment number 32 out of 45 when they can join with other lesser known educators and get an online conversation going and have their voice heard?
Ewan also suggested that, in general, the latest wave aren't as active or savvy in sussing out their readership or where their work is being referenced -
Part of the problem, I think, is that the new generation of (fascinating) edubloggers don't have the same technical literacy at seeing who visits them and who reads them. Given this, it means that they don't pursue those people to see what they have to say in the same way the bloggers of a year, two years, three years ago have done.
Do *you* think that has legs?
Hence the localised clustering. I would argue that with tools like MyBlogLog or twitter, tracking and making connections is an evolving practice. My initial forays in blogging was unable to unearth many other Aussies - so every local connection made was like gold (Jo, Leigh at the time, John P., Warrick, Alex). But one thing that I look for in any blog is relevance to me. So, if classroom teachers are getting on board and looking for each other, that's a good thing in my book. I know that several bloggers in my Bloglines are publicly cutting down their feeds which makes it harder for the new wave to get a look in, then there's the debate over the use of ning as a platform for teachers who might not have had the confidence or the time to develop their own blog and associated network.
My own personal feelings are that if I want to reap the benefits of blogging or developing any other sort of web presence, then I need to be reflective and connective. Reflect on my own practice but don't ignore what others are doing - spend time looking at their world and consider how that could improve what I do. An Australian listserv that I subscribe has someone courting Blogger's Choice votes but their blog is full of lesson plans and tips for teachers - that's so Web 1.0 to me now, there's very little reflection or interaction of the type I'd like - and it goes against what Ewan is saying is what is really needed that we can't afford to be internal anymore. Teachers like nothing better than a freebie handout but I think we need to step beyond that mentality and think about how we can shape our own profession and systems by actually using these tools to listen and converse with each other. It's a great opportunity - but it could slip us by.