Monday, February 26, 2007

Update on my student's blog

Well, we checked everything today, and there is still a problem with comments on my student's blog. I have contacted people at eslblogs, and I hope that when they are finished with a database upgrade, things will be better. In the meantime, please feel free to comment on his blog but know that your comments may not/probably won't show up on the blog itself. He is getting comments emailed to him, though, so he will know what you are saying.

He was, by the way, quite happy that people had read his blog and commented. So thanks from both of us!

As an aside, I talked to him about moving his blog to WordPress, but he would prefer to stay where he is. As I have said before, he is a little afraid of blogs, so I didn't push him on it. He is so happy with this project so far -- in spite of the problems -- that I don't want to mess with it.

Friday, February 23, 2007

More on my student blog problems

Well, there is still a problem with my student's blog. When we try to comment on it, he receives the comments in his email, but they don't show up on his blog. We are continuing to work on it.

He was very excited, though, to read the emailed comments that he got. This is the first time I have seen him excited about blogging. Thanks to those of you who tried to comment. I'll let you know when the problem is taken care of and your comments will show up as they should!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Too many blogs?

I am torn. In this year's EVO session, I began a new blog in WordPress, and I have fallen in love with it. WordPress, that is; not my blog. I hate to just abandon that blog, but I am not sure I can maintain two "public" blogs. I am looking for a focus for the other one that would make it viable and still leave me with stuff to write about here.

I am going to try to get back into regular postings here while i am looking for a direction for the other blog. We'll see how well I manage to do that and what I come up with for the other blog. Wish me luck!

Monday, February 19, 2007

My student's blog

Unfortunately there is a problem with comments on my student's blog. I thought we got it set up to accept comments without moderation, but apparently there is some kind of problem. As we are on break for Mardi Gras, I will have to wait until Thursday to see what I can do about this.

Thanks to all who have tried to comment. I'll let you know when/if we get it cleared up.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

My student's blog

Well, my one reading student has gotten his blog up and running. I think we still have some commenting issues, but we are working on them. He has chosen tor ead and write about poverty. If you would like to stop by and take a look and maybe comment, I'd appreciate it.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Learning from the best

If you haven't read Kathy's post Marketing should be education, education should be marketing, you should. She says:

If ever there were two groups who ought to trade places--and especially research -- it's teachers and marketers.

Teachers could learn a lot from marketers, They are really good at motivating people, at getting them to do something, Wouldn't we love to be able to do it as well in the classroom? As she says:

Marketers know what turns the brain on (currently, not last week). Teachers need that more than ever today....

Marketers know how to motivate someone almost instantly. Teachers could sure use that....

Marketers know how to get--and keep--attention. I know some teachers who'd give a kidney for that research.

And, of course, we teachers have a great deal of knowledge that we can share, too.

Teachers know the importance of honesty and integrity. The good teachers care. ...

Teachers know how to help people think on a deeper level, to get beyond the surface level of understanding. In old-school advertising, only the most superficial attributes were used ("This product will make your neighbors envious!") Clearly, those days are dwindling.

Teachers help people think about thinking. In fear-based (or any emotion-based) marketing campaign (especially politics!), thinking was inhibited. But people can't learn and improve without thinking, so any marketing approach based on helping users get better needs to use emotions to enhance thinking, not prevent it.

Teachers know how to help people through the rough spots...

The real issue, of course, is the money at the disposal of marketers to allow them to know us so well. Education doesn't have that kind of money at its disposal.

But I think we, as teachers, can learn a lot without access to all that money. All we have to do is look around us and see where and how our students spend their time and money. Once we know that (and it isn't that difficult to discover!) we can begin to find ways to incorporate those things in our teaching and in our classrooms. Of course, it isn't quite that simple, but it isn't as hard as we might think it is. It requires that we truly want to reach our students and that we be willing to change the way we do things.

Because when it comes to learning about our students, we can learn more from them than we can from a marketer. And the process of trying to discover what it is that excites them and then trying to figure out how it can be incorporated into the classroom and into our pedagogical framework is a real adventure. The trip is fun in and of itself and the payoff is great.

Listening to and learning from our students is, indeed, learning from the best.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Change is hard.

Some people embrace change and others do not. And most of us, I guess, embrace it in some areas and not in others.

There have been a lot of changes at school technology-wise lately. For some of us it is easier than for others. One thing that I think is smart is that the tech guys are getting a few people on board with one or more of the different open source programs we are going to be using before springing them on everyone. It has been helpful, for instance, for me to be able to assure some of the office staff that they will be able to use OpenOffice without any problems, And someone else can tell us how convenient Zimbra is. There is a small group of "experts" who can take some of the pressure off the IT guys. But this is a stressful time for a lot of people.

The changes that are planned are good ones, I think. On both ethical and financial grounds I applaud the move to open source that has slowly been taking place on our campus. We've been using Moodle for over a year now, and we are running Linux servers. There is a long way to go still, and not everyone is as excited about it as I am, but I think this time next year few people will even remember what the fuss was all about.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Let's define blogging - again

There has been a lot of discussion the past couple days about anonymity in blogging. There was the infamous Houston Chronicle article that referred to Bud Hunt and Vicki Davis as anonymous bloggers. Then there were posts on Bud's blog and a number of others. (I know you have seen them all!)

Then there is the post over at Assorted Stuff about blogging being a personality disorder. (If you haven't read the post, I should tell you that this isn't Tim's belief but rather that of someone who wrote a book about blogging.)

To me the issues are connected. What is blogging, really? I go back to old "definitions" by Will Richardson and Anne Davis. I believe blogging is more than writing online. It involves reflection and, usually at least, reading, as well as writing. Blogging is not journaling or venting. As Will says,
Blogging is not just writing in a blog. I don't think journaling is blogging because it's, well, journaling. Blogging is much more than that. To me the process starts with reading what other people have written and editing that content for depth and relevance and accuracy. It's making connections about that content to other ideas to clarify what's important about it. It's adding personal reflection to give it context because only in knowing how the blogger experiences what she is writing about can I as a reader decide whether her ideas are worth my time. And, finally, it's linking back to that content so that the ideas can be traced to their genesis.

If we take Will's definition of blogging, then there seems to be no reason to blog anonymously. If I am writing about things that I don't want my name associated with, then I shouldn't be writing about them in a public forum. And I am probably not really blogging.

I know I am preaching to the choir here (assuming anyone is listening), but I needed to clarify this for myself again. And I needed to look at my blogs again to make sure I would not appear to be blogging anonymously. Because I am proud of most of what I have written over these last two years. I am not hiding from the real world in my blog but am trying to make sense of it in my own way. That, to me, is blogging.