Before throwing my virtual hat into the Edublogging ring, I did read several educational blogs. In fact, I read all of the ones that were nominated for the Best of Blog (BoB) awards. And then I read several from their considerable links.
I do have another blog out there which enjoys a fair amount of success, meaning several hundred hit it every day and I can pull down a dozen or more comments on a daily basis. To me, that is success. Much more than that, and I’d get nervous.
After looking at the BoB nominations, education looked like a particularly weak category. One reason is that education bloggers are still a very loosely associated group. While we all may link to each other, we don’t talk to each other very much or very well. We do parallel posts on a subject but we don’t deepen or extend each other very well. Someone comes up with an idea or suggestion and it dangles out there for awhile and then it just sort of disappears. Next post.
So what I’ve tried to do is extend and deepen ideas of others who inspire me while also keeping my own storyline going. If you read Education Wonk’s Carnival Midway, you get a real good feel for what folks are talking about in various education blogs. I will occasionally grab an idea from there, like I did with Coach Brown’s post. Sometimes only a part of a post will lead me in a new direction, like Ms. Cornelius did recently.
The power of blogging lies in this interactive hybrid vigor. We all collectively contribute and extend each other. This is something that does not happen in any other type of publishing medium.
So what would I view as a good education blog?
– A good, basic story line. Reflective Teacher and Mad Tedious are two of my current favs. Kacie has possibilities if she can switch from the abominable MSN and keep updating. We get some characters, and there is an episodic quality to it. This is the stuff that keeps me reading as I learn to care about the characters.
– Informative and original. John L. at Teach Effectively regularly has some good solid scoops that no one else seems to cover. Weaving information into a storyline is challenging but not impossible. By their nature, education blogs lend themselves to both plot and information.
– Theme-based. Education is a very broad area, and if a blog has a focus, it should be stronger for it. For instance, John and Michele at NCLBlog focus primarily on NCLB. The law is broad and sweeping enough, there should be ample material for the authors to stay on topic. Deviations are allowed, but being scatter-brained is not a desired quality I look for. My niche, if you haven’t guessed it, is special education.
There are things that leave me less than enthused about many educational blogs:
– Too political. Okay, education involves a lot of politics and there are a slew of blogs that cover the political spectrum. But I get real weary of Bush bashing and union bashing. I do have a strong political bias, but education has not been served well by either the liberals or conservatives. If you do have a bias, try to be fair and open minded about it. Give and take and diplomacy will earn more respect than cramming your particular view in everyone else’s face.
– No story. This is a strong personal bias of mine. Each person has a story to tell, and if you don’t you’re probably not living right! Simply reacting to media reports is not a story. But if you can relate to the story on a personal basis, it does add some realism and substance. I’m interested in who you all are. I really want to like you!
– Not enough cross talk. We are not doing a good job of extending on what each other writes. Not every post by every person is worthy of extension, but we can do better. By the same token, we might consider fostering this sort of cross talk in our own posts by inviting discussion. For instance, I’d kind of like to know what you all look for in a good blog. What keeps you coming back? How do you decide who to link to on your blogroll?
Right now, I have yet to discover a blog that hits all my criteria. Some come closer than others. So, the creation of my blog is an attempt at becoming something that might actually fit my own criteria. Whether or not it has broad appeal, I won’t know until it gets presented before a broader audience.