Yesterday afternoon I had the privilege of addressing the Lambda Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International on the topic of blogging for educators. I modified one of my previous presentations, bringing it up to date a bit.
Usually I start out by asking the teachers what they think of when they hear the word “blog”. In previous presentations I usually got responses like “MySpace” or “Facebook” or “an online diary.” Today’s responses were much more encouraging. I still got responses like “opinions”, but I got more responses describing blogging as a communications tool. It seemed like we had many more teachers that understand the difference between blogging and social networking.
As part of the presentation I discussed what I called the “Four B’s for Blogging Success.” These are more for generic personal blogs than for classroom blogs, but some of these rules still apply.
- Be original – Speak in your own voice, don’t fall prey to copy-n-paste memes that pop up on 50 million other blogs, and be observant of copyright.
- Be timely and consistent – Visitors will lose interest if you blog sporadically. Topics that are current will generate the most interest. (Of course, one could argue that this post is not timely. Blogging is, what? About six years old now? Educators can be notoriously NOT up to date when it comes to technology.)
- Be focused – If you write about predominantly one topic, then suddenly shift to another, you may lose a good part of your audience. If you’re going to write about everything under the sun, let your readers know that up front (by naming your blog something like, oh, I don’t know, maybe Random Connections?)
- Be circumspect – You never know who is going to read your blog. After all, it’s out there on the Internets for all to see. I remember the shock I got when several of my office co-workers said they regularly read my blog. I hadn’t advertised it. Yesterday at lunch one of my sales contacts said that he reads this blog (and immediately I wondered what nasty things I’d said about vendors lately.) Also keep in mind safety rules, especially regarding personal information. These information leaks can be subtle – you can write about taking your kids to the park, but I wouldn’t say things like, “Today I took my daughter to the park like I do every Thursday at 4:00.” I wouldn’t make innocent comments along these lines for others or their kids, either. And lastly, regarding personal information, there is such a thing as TMI. Don’t let a blog degenerate into the trivia of your day.
One of the attendees at the meeting has done an outstanding job keeping a classroom blog, and we used it as an example of classroom blogging can be successful. I had set up a WordPress blog on our servers for Andrea Mabrey, a math teacher at Byrnes High School. I particularly like they way she has organized her blog. She has set up a category for each one of the classes that she teaches. Each of her blog posts include homework assignments for that class, as well as notes from the day in PDF format. She has a static page for dates for quizzes and tests, as well as other class information. Great job Andrea!