Blogging isn’t dead

bloggingImage: 10 amazing blogs about blogging – Corey Wainwright 

 

The internet can be capricious at times and come up with rumours and thoughts which, if you do not pay attention, will lead you astray or confuse you. Half the time it’s to create a thing and then that thing is discussed , reported, highlighted, memed. It’s artificial content creation stimulation. There has been this thing about blogging being dead. There has been a belief that individual bloggers are a thing of the past. Not if you go by the WordPress reader. That alone is sufficient indication there are plenty of individual bloggers who are confident, successful and clear voices. There are a lot of new individual bloggers because a number of people are connected from home for their own purposes. There are artists, writers, musicians, tech people, UX and UI designers, game creators, cooks, chefs, foodies, fashion followers, sports people and  gadget creators and so on. Etsy has had a big impact and a number of Etsy shops have their owners on Instagram to make that personal connection with their potential clients. They often build their network on Instagram or Facebook and then their blog offers more insight into how they produce their items. It’s the personal touch.  People want to meet and know real people on the internet these days. Blogs can also provide documentation and journaling capacities so that people can trace their personal growth in an area. People want to explore their creativity and ideas more and even Instagram posts are increasingly becoming more like blog posts. It’s the social and emotional involvement which has increased and so blogging offers that way of individual processing of events , creativity and information.

That is not to say group blogs don’t exist and aren’t a vibrant part of the internet. Blogs are part of mainstream  internet content. They are no longer the blogosphere. Group blogs can operate like modern day newsletters. They can allow a group to develop an image and history and allow everyone in that group to participate even if they cannot be at every meeting or activity. They allow a group to have an online presence and image with the group members can tap into but also the wider community.

MotherJones has an interesting look at current blogging practices . Blog Tyrant looks at some of the statistics and analyses some of the trends.  Neal Samudre has an article  on Huffington Post about allowing your blog to prosper.  Blogs have changed and they always will change. These days they tend to document and share information in a way which is connected to our need for information in context.

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Lifelong learning

Lifelong learning is not just a buzz phrase. It is a mind set and way of life. Life is change and change is action. That cannot occur without neuroplasticity and critical thinking. Lifelong learning is vital for the development of communities, societies and individuals:

“Every person, at every stage of their life should have lifelong learning opportunities to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to fulfil their aspirations and contribute to their societies. “

World Education Forum 2015

Lifelong learning can occur easily these days across time and space because we have access to technology and connectivity. No one need ever be left in the dark and everyone can be learning enabled at any time of the day or night. We can learn what we want , when we want and how we want because we are connected and sharing our knowledge.

informED discusses 25 practices which foster lifelong learning:

“Lifelong learning is now recognized by educators, governing bodies, accreditation organizations, certification boards, employers, third-party payers, and the general public as one of the most important competencies a person can possess. But even if we all agree on its value, and harbor the best intentions of possessing it ourselves, it can easily escape our grasp if we approach it the wrong way.”

You have to be confident as a learner to participate in lifelong learning. You have to know that because you are not very good at something it does not mean that you cannot be good at it. Information, application and facilitation are the keys. You have to be able to identify your goals and then you have to be able to find the resources and opportunities for facilitating your capabilities. Being in a group helps you identify with others who know what you want to know or who want to know what you want to know. The group helps you to learn. It calibrates you and gives you feedback. You still have to have faith in your capacity to learn. Then there is the internet. There is so much information which people are sharing so that you can learn and develop your knowledge and skills or so that you can raise the issues and problems and work collaboratively to resolve them.

Lifelong learning is about:

1. Repackaging the skills and thinking you already have
2. Learning new skills and ways of thinking
3. Information and application
4. Questioning and reflecting
5. Celebrating the successes and good changes along the way

It’s about putting yourself out there and daring to be different with no fear of failure.

Make a video with a phone

Sunny Lennarduzzi has some simple, straightforward advice and help for improving phone video quality. People are making videos for social networks, YouTube and for job and organisation purposes. So many people have good in front of camera skills these days. They are video people and are used to the medium. We need to make better use of the technology we have access to by improving our use of that technology. We need to make an effort to learn some of the tricks of the trade. Phone videos can be used to quickly explain things t people, to inform others, to create a learning environment as well as an entertainment one. With these tips you can see you do not have to go the expense of setting up a studio in order to make viable videos. You use what what we all have access to more effectively.

The impact of smartphones

We have been talking about it for a while now: The impact of smartphones on our society and the next generation. The rise in car accidents which could be totally avoided. The zombie walk. The mobile phone twits who bang on anywhere and everywhere and allow their phones to ring whenever they want. We have observed the impact and we have reacted but we don’t seem to have resolved much. We love a narrative. We’ll all create a story about the impact of phones and the media will push a narrative which will have a far reach. We actually need to think this out properly and for ourselves. What is the right age for a child to have a smart phone? What are the impacts of smartphones on children? Should a teacher have smartphones in class? A teacher could have 30 students, thirty phones and then 30 devices. The phones could be giving access to parents which means another layer of social management in a classroom. Not sure any other job expects anyone to manage that many devices and that level of interpersonal communication complexity. The teacher then has emails and communication coming in from other staff, administration, professional organisations and parents on their laptop. Smartphones mean we can communicate very quickly with others when we feel like it.

The professional standards by aitsl for teachers require that teachers

4.5 Use ICT safely, responsibly and ethically –
Demonstrate an understanding of the relevant issues and the strategies available to support the safe, responsible and ethical use of ICT in learning and teaching.

What about others, though, who are also responsible for young people using smartphones? It’s not the phones which are the problem . There seem to be a lot of young people who don’t have a broad range of interests and who, for all of their connectivity , are disconnected socially. The Atlantic has published an article Has the smartphone destroyed a generation? which is a very interesting look at the impact of smartphones on the current generation. Jean M. Twenge has a book coming out : iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood—and What That Means for the Rest of Us. . The article is based on that book and well worth the long read because it is written by someone who has been investigating this.

Virtual schools

There has been some talk about increasing online options for students. It needs to stay like that until clear and successful models have been established for online learning. There are then the issues around online learning in virtual schools like isolation, social engineering, social justice, care giving, duty of care, cyber and real life safety. It is going to come and it is going to happen but we are the ones who need to drive this because we want technology to work for us not for us to be entrapped and enslaved to technology. Of course it’s cheaper to run online schools. It saves about half the costs. That would make it an attractive option for some but we need to think about the other costs. It would suit some students well, you just know it. It would suit some teachers better. There is no longer a one size fits all so there is no reason to ignore the benefits of webinars, online conferencing and communication tools which we now have. It needs to be thoroughly thought out and planned and then carefully trialled.

Good online tools for learning provide quality content, report on progress, create local and global activities, allow work to be customised and set and then report on participation. They allow student and staff input , participation and feed back. They have a proven track record. Students can ignore all of that, though, and so someone needs to be monitoring participation and progress. SBS looked at Aurora Online school and its progress earlier this year. That is a school which runs synchronous online lessons. Victoria is running online schools in languages with some success. The Victorian virtual schools network is also running other online subjects via video conferencing tools. This keeps the people aspect of learning going. Babble has a parent point of view on virtual schools which is worth the read. Geoff Masters has written an excellent piece about the challenges for Australian schools and that looks at flexible learning arrangements. There has also been some useful research into the differences between online and traditional learning  by Joseph Cavanaugh and Stephen J Jacquemin. Kevin Gumienny  has looked  at what you really need to run successful online courses and has isolated the issues well. Not that you could ever quantify or objectify the lifelong impact of a teacher who has written on your life.

Online learning has to be targeted, effective and able to achieve its goal. It has to involve the learner and for that to happen it has to meet the needs of the learner . Participation both cerebrally and emotionally is important. A learner needs to have input and help. Online learning tools need to consult the learner about how to progress and improve the delivery. That two way conversation again – create content, share, gain feedback, improve.

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