I attended an informative meeting tonight of educators interested in exploring the potential of blogging within our education system as a follow on from the Blogging Masterclass of last month. Now the purpose of this post is not to rehash the proceedings or the discussion from that hour, as productive as it was. I didn't take notes, so my recollections could be erroneous and I don't have permission to paraphrase other people's utterings. But I'd like to expand on what I think I see here in South Australia and whether we have the opportunity to establish and nurture an Education Blogging Community. The interest group consists of several experienced edubloggers, some educators who have dabbled but haven't launched into the full "blogging experience" and some beginners still working out what it all means for them. As for teachers who weren't at the Masterclass or participating in the comments section of the Masterclass blog, then it is impossible to gauge whether there is a community in the making or whether most teachers will just not want to know (too busy, too close to retirement, not confident, not informed, not caring!) and we are just indulging in wistful thinking. Considering that most bloggers have stumbled into this form of communication, a measured approach just might not work. And providing a sheltered place for interested educators to find out more (Moodle, Janison) is self defeating. Mastering the technology is just the first step. But users won't take that step unless they have some idea about the commitment, the purpose and potential of using a blog. I do think we need to focus on getting teachers to try blogging for themselves before we try and develop teachers blogging with their kids. The possible solutions to manage a class full of blogs are there but a learning curve needs to take place first before you even know the tools exist. This post from Dean Shareski really explains how the evolution could take place:
But if we as educators have never entered into a global conversation, it’s not likely we’ll ever create that opportunity for our students. But as we all know and I told the administrators, kids are already having them so when will we?
I think that the Masterclass blog (or a new one if needed) is a reasonable starting point for interested teachers to start dabbling. I am prepared to share things I've learnt along the way at that online venue and get others commenting and joining the conversation. I'd offer more beginner type stuff that I wouldn't post here because I believe the vast majority of my readers are ahead of me anyway! The more I think about it, becoming part of a blogging community is a very organic experience and can't really be planned or organised - an interest group can plant some seeds and watch to see if it grows. The group needs to support our less experienced but equal partners or risk having them turned off and their spark of enthusiasm snuffed out by the wind created by over fast movement. I realise that students are interacting online (often unsafely) and that they need guidance and structured opportunity. They need teachers who have some expertise and answers to the non-technical aspects of interacting with and publishing to a potential global audience. So I think we (the interest group) should set up a starting point for teachers who want to know more and use the expanded Masterclass blog as a jumping off point.