A Request For My Learning Network

At the July CEGSA conference, I will be presenting a workshop titled Blogging As Professional Learning as well as co-presenting with Al Upton in a presentation. Now I don't want to be presumptous about anyone who reads my blog, but I have a favour to ask anyone reading for a considered response. As part of my presentation I will be describing how I fit blogging into my daily routines but that model will probably not work for everyone. What I need is other examples, other models to suggest to my participants. So, how do you do your blogging? Do you set aside specific time or is it more opportunistic? Do you weave into your work day or add bits and pieces to posts as you go whenever you get to be online? You can leave me a comment if you want, or if you don't want your contributions in this public space, drop me an email (wegner.graham[at]gmail.com) and I can broaden my suggested array of blogging strategies. Any conditions regarding the use of your information will be honoured in accordance with your wishes.

Thanking you all in anticipation.

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9 thoughts on “A Request For My Learning Network

  1. Stephen Downes

    What I have found over the years is that online writing, including blogging, can’t be something special you set aside time to to, but instead, must be something you do as part of your everyday activities.

    What that means, in practical terms, is that whenever I am reading – and I do the bulk of my reading online – I have a blog window open, ready for a quick comment of summary.

    I find this is especially important for the type of blogging I do. The bulk of my posts are short item summaries and commentary. This is because my blog is also my resource library – if you look at my resources page you can find about 10,000 items I have posted over the years.

    But for a summary to be accurate or a comment insightful, I need to remember, in fair detail, the item I just read. This means that the best time to blog about it is as I read it, or at the very least, as soon as I have finished reading it.

    Over time, my reading and blogging time has fit into the routines of my life. For example, when I get up I like to watch the news and read my email while I have breakfast. This is done with a couple of blog windows open, one for my news blog and one for my regular blog.

    Another big part of my method is that I do my other work online. For example, I write various research reports, essays and other articles as part of my day-to-day work. I post almost all of these online, and they become part of my blog. Or I’ll post links I dig up doing the research, and they become part of the blog.

    When I was learning Ruby on Rails, for example, instead of documenting my experience in a private or internal paper, I blogged it, turning my efforts into a four part article. This way I could describe my work, inform others curious about Ruby, and best of all, provide valuable feedback to the Ruby development community (some of whom were dismissive, but the majority of whom were appreciative).

    Some of my most popular articles have evolved this way. When I was writing a background paper on RSS for a group of university and commercial partners working on the eduSource project, for example, I took my article and posted it on my site. An Introduction to RSS for Educational Designers.

    Blogging isn’t just about blogging. It isn’t just about writing some stuff online. Blogging becomes most effective when it becomes a way of doing other things, when you take some of the hobbies or work you would normally do in the privacy of your home or office and share the writing – yes, in its raw, natural state – with the world.

    It becomes, in this way, not an extra thing that I do, but rather, the way I do the things that I do.

    This comment, for example, began as a comment, but is now a blog post. Why? Because I was reading my RSS feed after my evening walk and just before getting ready to listen to the ball game, Graham’s post caught my eye, I found I had something to say, I took a few minutes to type it up, and now I have something to share.

    It might be a little nothing. But then again, it might be just that something that inspires another article, a day’s work, or a career.

    Who knows? It has certainly happened to me.

    (Oh, and in the best tradition of blogging, this post may be used for any purpose whatsoever – readers are encouraged to reprint, rewrite, repurpose, fold, spindle, mutilate and pass forward this bit of writing.)

  2. Roger Stack

    I would love to hear a summary of the responses you get on this – I was asked the same question at a presentation I gave earlier this week and will again I’m sure at another I give next week…

    My personal approach is a little different from Stephen’s in that I do set aside time to read and write blogs… For the last 30 years I have read the morning paper. This stopped 6 months ago when reading blogs became much more interesting…

    I read blogs every morning like I used to read a newspaper – skimming down, trusting that my eyes will pick up the interesting bits… I read from within Bloglines opening sites of particular interest – clipping those I might want to write about to my bloglines account – commenting on those that inspire a response – and saving useful links to delicious…

    I subscribe to about 140 blogs – 45 belong to my students and the rest change slowly over time as my interests change or someone recommends a new one – only a few of these are posted to more than once a week…

    I write in two blogs – one for students/colleagues and one for a global audience… I generally post only 3-4 times in each per month… about a post per week which I generally do from home on weekends.

    Finally, when I do post a comment in someone’s blog – like this one – I also copy it into a 3rd private blog – so that I have a dated searchable record of my own comments… very useful… This post for example has forced me to think about my own blogging practice – and I can use new clarity in my presentation next week 🙂

  3. Leigh Blackall

    Hi G,

    I’m opportunistic. Sometimes I get an idea I just have to blog. Usually its 3 in the morning and I can’t sleep. For that reason I keep a laptop by the bed, and a wireless internet connection around the house. If I can’t sleep, I reach over and spark up the laptop. I go to the bathroom while the thing fires up. I tuck back in bed and type/link away. It usually takes me about 30 minutes to type something up, by then I’m tired and sleepy again.

    Other times – like at work, I do what Stephen does. Two windows, my bloglines in one, and my blogged quick notes in the other. Oh how I wish I had two monitors.

    Sometimes I blog through my mobile phone. This is usually just a picture and a couple of lines of text. I usually moblog to Flickr.

    Audio blogging is pretty easy too. I have tried it from time to time, and reckon it would suite some people quite well. I have naturally fall to text that’s all.

    Lately I have been video blogging. I video record my screen everytime I am asked to demo something for someone. Its not much extra work, and produces a handy resource along the way. I use Camstudio.org to record, videora iPod converter to compress, and Google video to publish.

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    Learning with the Fang » Blog Archive » For Graham's talk: How I do my blogging

  5. Jo McLeay

    Hi Grahan,
    as you’ve probably realised I’m not blogging as often as I was or as often as I’d like to. I think this is because I’m not in the habit of blogging every day at the moment. I liked it when I was. I found it helped me in my daily life. I do however read blogs every day, sometimes several times a day, and I try to make time to comment regularly and thoughtfully. I love the idea that Leigh mentioned blogging in bed at 3 am. Unfortunately that would disturb my partner so I usually get out of bed when I can’t sleep and read blogs or listen to podcasts

  6. Dean Shareski


    I liken my blogging routine to a whole realm of web 2.0 tools and opportunities. For example, when I see a website I want to bookmark, I furl it. If I take a picture, I upload it to flickr or a video gets uploaded to youtube.

    Blogging is similar, but usually requires a bit more time as it is a reaction to my reading, thinking and learning. Sometimes, it’s knee jerk reactions, other times, I have a thought that needs more time to develop so I may start a draft and come back to it later. It’s really quite similar to the way we converse. Sometimes we have a story to tell and can inject it into a conversation very smoothly and quickly, other times, we’re too busy listening to have a response and other times that response comes way later.

    As far as a routine, there is none. I’m very fortunate in that I see no distinction between my job and my blogging. Although, it’s not explicitly part of my job, I think reflecting, researching and sharing should be part of every educator’s job.

    I grapple with the issue of whether all teachers have some obligation to share their learning. If so, what better format than blogging?

  7. Doug Noon

    Graham, your request suggests a blog post to me, but I don’t know if I’ll get to it in time for your presentation so I’ll try to leave a comment describing my workflow. I suspect that the way each person approaches their blog is highly individual, and may have as much to do with why they write as who they are.

    Unlike many bloggers, I am not able to spontaneously generate blog content. For me it is a slow and deliberate process. Most of the things I write take several hours to compose. I almost never finish something in a single sitting. I am envious of people who seem to be able to say interesting things in an concise and efficient way. I try to formulate a coherent statement about what is often an ill-defined idea to begin with. The blogging usually helps me uncover or untangle some knotty idea that for whatever reason was bothering me.

    Sometimes I write about an experience that triggers an idea for me. Other times I write in response to something that I’ve read in another blog, something I care about or a connection I made. I think of it as “synthetic writing.” I end up searching the internet for links that people might find useful, pulling different threads together that relate to whatever my topic turns out to be. That part generally takes a long time because I end up reading through all sorts of things. It’s very similar to writing a research paper, I suppose, but I get to use a nonacademic style of writing, which is both challenging and fun for me.

    This blogging bug takes time. It doesn’t fit into any part of what previously was my normal day. I’ve had to make time for it and let some other things go. I read blogs and write when I have time to myself – late at night, and at my desk after school. Early in the morning, and at lunch I read and bookmark stuff. I don’t sleep a lot. I’m not sure if it’s healthy, but I’m making connections and enjoying an intellectual collegiality with other teachers that has never been available in the workplace, where everyone is usually too busy to talk about anything substantial.

    This is a fascinating question, and I’m curious to hear more about how other people manage it.

  8. Mark Ahlness

    Graham, I’m just catching up on my reading, so I am sorry if this is too late for your workshop…

    When I started blogging again regularly a year ago, I was full of ideas like how often I would post – like twice a week, every other day, etc. I soon found that totally unrealistic. All it took was a couple experiences sitting down and staring at a blank screen – with a blank mind – on my “blogging day”. Yikes.

    So I’ve settled into the exact opposite, in terms of frequency. Sometimes it’s been nearly two weeks between a post, sometimes daily posts for several days running. It’s all about when the spirit moves the pen…I write whenever and wherever.

    I also find commenting on other blogs very important to keep up with. Sometimes, as Stephen said, it turns into a blog post of my own. The connections and the ideas put forth made in these commenting forums are incredibly stimulating.

    One interesting thing for me this year has been defining the differences between posting on my classroom blog – http://roomtwelve.com – and posting on my personal blog – http://ahlness.com So many times issues have overlapped, that several times I have cross posted, or referenced a post from one to the other. Interesting dealing with the “teacher blogger” persona (and the responsibility that entails) vs. the personal blogger, where there is much more freedom to speak my mind (but only to a point – my kids knew where my blog was, so did their parents, and they often read it).

    Great question, I have really enjoyed reading the responses you got. Hope the presentation goes well. – Mark

  9. dave

    Not sure if this is too late, but I run a couple of blogs and sometimes I like to future date my posts. I do this because sometimes I’m “in the mood” to blog and sometimes not. If I’m in the mood to write different posts I’ll future date anything more then the first post. That way if I’m not in the mood tomorrow or the next day, a post will still show up (on the future post date) keeping my blog fresh (even though I wrote it a few days ago). If I later decide I want to post it sooner or later, I just modify the date. Hope it helps.

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