“…we should use our blogging to make and to build connections.”
In a great article called, “The Science of Teamwork,” Viviane Callier describes a biological study that analyzed how different basketball teams move the ball down the court as examples of networking. The lead scientist on the team, Jennifer Fewell, noted one team that used a pattern of each player passing the ball to at least two other players. The scientists argue that such a team is “more flexible and less predictable. A team with a distributed network has many options for changing their strategy to score points….and were more likely to win.”
Many teachers first adopt blogging as a learning strategy that encourages student writers to be more fluent and expressive. Along the way, more and more educators have found blogging is a rich experience not only for students, but also for us. I believe we should use our blogging to make and to build professional connections.
Just like our brains add new knowledge by connecting it to what we already know, we can help one another, and the professions in general, grow by linking our collective thinking on various topics. This is what professionals do when we engage in a public discussion of issues pertaining to our respective fields. In formal academic writing, that’s called doing a review of literature; then presenting an academic argument. One reads what others have said; then responds by challenging or expanding on those ideas. The cycle or spiral repeats, moving the field forward and upward.
Sadly, the field of education is notorious for not building on our past—research or practice. We seem to roll in stationary cycles of adopting, dropping, forgetting, and rediscovering principles and approaches.
We can help advance our profession, as well as our own development, by encouraging the exchange of ideas. I’m a big fan and user of Twitter, and it’s a great way to make connections with lots of people quickly. However, its one major drawback is that 140-character limit. We need longer, deeper, more thoughtful discussions on most of the issues facing us in education. Even the most frenetic Twitter exchange can’t by itself accomplish that level of development.
Also, blogs have a longer “shelf-life” than a Twitter feed. I can go back to a blog in the archives from years ago and rejoin a conversation about which I now have new information or insight. I don’t consider any of the blog comment sections on my former posts closed.
Many of my own blog posts begin as a response or reaction to what I’ve read in other blogs or education articles. When that happens, I’ll usually link to that piece near the beginning of my response blog. It is rare that I write a blog on any topic and don’t do some kind of search to see what others have said on the topic, especially among the folks in my blog reader. When I find something that is pertinent or expands on what I intend to cover, I link it into the body of my blog. I’ll do the same thing when I’m commenting on someone else’s blog (a practice I heartily encourage). If I know of or find related pieces, I’ll share those links. It adds credibility, depth, and breadth to what might otherwise just be a shallow discussion or rant.
These may seem like small or time-consuming acts. But making connections with other edubloggers and writers is worth the time. If more of us shared in this way, it would go a long way to helping us continue to break down the long-standing culture of isolationism among educators at all levels.