For those of us well entrenched in reading, writing and contributing to blogs, it is hard to remember a time before their existence. In truth, it was actually not that long ago… The term “weblog” was first used in 1997 to describe the digital log of writers thoughts and opinions. It was two years later in 1999 that the short form, “blog,” was coined by Peter Merholz, who broke the word weblog into the phrase “we blog” in the sidebar of his site Peterme.com.
Since then the blogging movement has exploded way beyond personal thoughts and musings. A whole new media channel has been created for sharing news, ideas, help and essentially anything anyone feels like writing.
So, as educators, what could creating a blog do for you? And why use your already sparse free time to write… For free? Here are seven real reasons why you should consider starting your own, school or class blog.
1. Idea Generation
In the words of Steven Johnson, “Chance favours the connected mind“. This is one of my favorite quotes of all time and speaks directly towards one huge benefit of blogging. In the below RSA Animate video, Steven talks about “Where Good Ideas Come From”. The premise behind this 5 minute video, is that ideas come from sharing information. By blogging, you are sharing your ideas and in turn will receive the thoughts, opinions, praise and criticism of your readers. All of these, including criticism, is essential to helping you solidify, grow and evolve your thoughts and practices. This growth will not only help you understand the perspective of others, but will let you tap ideas and thoughts in your own mind that would otherwise have never been found.
2. Community Building
With every new audience comes new opportunities. By sharing your thoughts online, you are letting the world see how you think, work, care and teach. This is huge! People you may never have had the opportunity to meet will become a part of your online community. Not only will this help build your professional network, but as so many bloggers have discovered, it will also vastly extend your personal network.
By building a community of like minded people that share your passions and appreciate your opinions, you are creating relationships that would never occur otherwise. These relationships, whether through commenting, social networks or face-to-face, open up doors that offer all sorts of opportunities. You never know who you may meet and how you can work together.
3. Motivation And Inspiration
With technology and new practices always moving forward, it can sometime be overwhelming to keep up to date. It is very easy to turn a blind eye and ignore innovation, but for many of us that is not an option. Blogging puts you in a position where you are motivated to learn and continue to grow. Sharing your knowledge creates an atmosphere where you want to learn. It is exciting and inspiring to share new ideas and even more exciting and inspiring to hear how others are using them.
If you have had your work shared either online or offline, posted or re-tweeted, it is a remarkable sensation to see your words make real changes to people’s lives.
4. Expressing Yourself
The 10,000-Hour Rule, defined by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, states that the key to success in any field is practicing a specific task for around 10,000 hours. OK, this is pretty definite, but it does re-enforce the point that the more you do something the better you will get at it. Being able to express and understand your own thoughts is an essential skill to being a great educator. If you are unable to understand your own teaching, then how will others?
Whether you plan to write multiple articles a day or just a post or two a month, practice makes perfect. The exercise of blogging will not only help you improve your own writing and conversation but will also acts as a therapeutic outlet for thoughts and feelings.
5. Transparency And Openness
One request that is repeated again and again from parents is the need to know what is going on in their child’s class. Blogging can create the perfect forum to invite parents and others into your classroom. Whether you choose to share day to day activities, your thoughts, or just basic updates, the openness and transparency is very well received.
Your blog lets you show parents and the school community that you are passionate about what you do. It lets people know just how much goes on in the classroom and see the great work being done. It also acts as a direct channel to get feedback and engage parents in the learning process.
6. Helping Others
As educators, it is our job to teach. A blog lets us take lessons out of the classroom and share them with the world. This helps many educators learn from our mistakes and successes, improving the quality of education as a whole. Not only does it give us the opportunity to help others, but in return, we get help as readers share their own experiences.
Many teachers are now turning to blogs, Twitter and online forums for their professional development needs. In a world of budget cuts and fast moving technology, blogs provide an essential free resource based on nothing more than the writers passion to share.
7. Personal Fulfilment
Last, but absolutely not least, the personal satisfaction gained from building a resource that others appreciate, respect and adore is absolutely priceless. There is a sense of purpose and satisfaction in blogging that is hard to replicate in any other medium. The fact you can click publish, and in minutes have comments and Tweets with feedback is unlike any other interaction.
What other benefit have you found from starting a blog? And for those who have not quite built up the courage, what is it that scares you most?
Image courtesy of Flickr, Walt Stoneburner