I’ve been remiss in not pointing to this year’s Edublog Awards nominees for which voting ends on Saturday. I’m particularly struck this year by the number of blogs and bloggers who I had not ever heard of, which is a testament, I think, to the ways in which the community is beginning to really get some traction. I agree with George Siemens when he says:
And yet, it feels like our small edublogger town (where everyone knows everyone) is becoming a small city – where relationships begin to cluster in smaller networks, instead of one large structure.
It’s been an interesting evolution to watch, from those early days in 2001 when a handful of us where kicking the tires on this blog thing trying to figure out exactly what it was all about to today when we have a slew of tools, a whole different name for the Web, learning theories built around it, and tens of thousands (if not more) teachers doing their own experimenting. At some point this year I gave up trying to keep track of it.
And, as if to signal another sign of our evolution, this was the year that things really got snippy for the first time in our space. Another step on the road…
The irony for me, at least, is that I read fewer edublogs today than I did last year; my network is smaller, more efficient. And that my own blogging feels like it’s at a crossroads of some type. Stephen Downes actually kicked my thinking about my own blog a few weeks ago with a very pithy comment:
The big news in this story isnâ€™t blogs. Itâ€™s that there are a billion teachers out there. Today we use blogs to communicate with them. But how might this evolve in the future? How do we make it easier, more immediate?
Doh! It really isn’t about blogs as much any more, is it? It’s not about the tool. It’s about the ability to connect. Yeah, I’ve known that, felt that, but sometimes my brain needs a succinct reminder.
So I’ve been thinking about this space and what I want to do with it. I know what I don’t want to do. I don’t want to fall into the blog as travelogue trap. Now that I’m getting out and about more, it’s hard not to just report out on what happened in Louisiana or Buffalo or wherever else. I think that what’s always been the strength of this blog has been the focus (as much as possible) on student and teacher practice. It feels like I’ve been getting away from that.
But the final irony is that I’m feeling compelled to blog less and write more. I know I’ve said this before, but as heady as all of these new voices in our community feel, we are still a decidedly small minority in the grand scheme of education. And I have to say that in many ways, while the community is growing, the conversation feels stalled. To me, we are on the cusp of a huge opportunity for real reform, but it’s not going to come online. It’s going to come in print, through writing articles and writing books, and finding ways to present a vibrant alternative to teachers who aren’t online, to preservice programs who are preparing the next generation of teachers, to the local community leaders who don’t have a context for change, and to politicians who really don’t have a clue as to the complexities of these changes and what they mean for education.
Wide ranging reports about the growing irrelevance of education are right around the corner. It feels like we’re gaining momentum toward a discussion of real reform, but it won’t happen, I don’t think, if we are content with batting about the ideas amongst ourselves, in our blogs and podcasts (which have an even more infinitesimal reach.) I’m not saying they don’t do some good. I’m just wondering if, at this moment, for those of us who at least have a basic understanding of what can be, it’s the best spend of our time.