Tim has a post about the goodness of the “Long Tail,” but as I read it I was thinking about how it highlights the issues from yesterday’s post. He says:
So let’s bring this back to the world of educational technology. The most obvious point is that there are a lot of great thinkers out there blogging and working in the long tail. If you restrict your students to using a traditional textbook they will never find the gems out there in the tail where so many fresh perspectives and new ideas can be found. We don’t need to wait for information to show up in dead tree form anymore.
True, but it’s more complicated than that. Here’s the problem. If we are going to help teachers see blogs as “research safe,” we’re going to have to give them some tools by which to assess those blogs. Right now, I would teach teachers and students that they should
Each of these methods needs to be fleshed out much more…there could be rubrics that we establish for each. And even with such standards, the weight we give these catagories may differ depending on the circumstance. But the general point is that many very reputable blogs written by reputable authors that currently live in the “long tail” probably would not rise to any type of standards that we might create.
Back in the old days, you found a byline on a dead tree, you found a source. Not so easy these days.
UPDATE: I should also have linked to Stephen Downes’ essay on the topic from last month. Ultimately, much of this comes down to trust, but unfortunately, trust is not tangible enough for many teachers to accept a source as “research safe.”
Craig Nansen says
One of the problems in tracking down information about the qualifications of a blogger is the reluctance to “brag” about themselves. It isn’t the same as when you write a formal article or research paper because providing credentials is expected in those cases.
And one of the reasons blogs are so useful is that it allows you to share successful projects, failures, and ideas without doing the research needed for a formal paper. Thus they are not “research safe” but may contain very useful information.
After doing the research needed to earn an advanced degree, I have become an advocate for checking resources and getting accurate information. But now I spend a lot more time reading blogs (like yours and Tim’s) to get new ideas, to find out about things that worked and others that didn’t. This is the only way I can survive as quickly as technology is changing what we do in schools and in our personal lives.