I fervently believe in the power of potential of weblogs, for students, teachers, and people in general, as a powerful, expressive platform, and have been beating the drum for the last year and a half.
At the same time, I also wonder, with a Keith Moon accent, whether they will fly with the speed and grace of a lead balloon.
Some people who have contacted me have assumed that all of Maricopa is blogging at the cogdogblog pace. Hardly so- going into the 2004-2005 academic year, blogs are on the rather low rise of emerging technologies, not even understood as a term among the broad spectrum of teachers and staff in our system. We do have some excellent early examples (here too) of our pioneers who have stepping into a more or less experimental use.
However, this seems to be at the 1-2% innovator level. It just takes time or a miracle or some combination for things to take off. And in my position, where I am deeply immersed in this stuff almost 24-7, it is easy to forget that others are just peering over the precipice of new technology, and holding on to the safety rail of powerpoint, WebCT/Blackboard, etc.
Going into 2004-2005, we are hoping that the faculty co-chairs for our new Ocotillo Action Groups are going to be using blogs (and wikis/discussion boards) for the primary communicating for new efforts this year in Learning Objects, Hybrid Courses, Electronic Portfolios, and Emerging Learning Technologies. They are just getting started learning how to use these tools, and my toe is starting to tap with impatience….
In our system, there is pretty much a solitary focus on email as the primary means of sharing information. Some recent surveys have shown that people “want more information” about projects, ideas, etc but at the same time say, “we get too much email”. At the same time, e-mail is the only channel most people tune into on a regular basis, even if they are just tossing messages without reading them. Worse, e-mail is the only way people are sharing resources, events, projects- what I have labeled “email attachment disorder” — and there are major programs and projects in our system well worth sharing that lack any sort of web presence at all.
But what does all this have to do with my assertion of blogs as flying lead bricks? We blog enthusiasts make some daring assumptions that people more skeptical or used to the environment will participate as actively as those in the choir section.
What are the intrinsic self-motivators for people to blog consistently, on a regular basis? It takes some sort of OCD trait to keep up that pace. Blogs that I followed daily a year ago are sputtering, with a frequency posting on the scale of weeks rather than daily or even hourly like it seemed long ago. (see Where Have All the Bloggers Gone?)
And for students- is it really enough motivation for them to blog if it is related to “points” / grades? Will the writing be as good as we desire if it is the minimum needed to “get by”? What happens to this motication after the course?
More Blogging / Less Commenting? I still maintain the blogging is a social process and the publishing part is half the coin- participating in other’s blogs is crucial, it is what connects these blog islands. I have seen quite a drop in comments coming here, and Trackbacks are will nilly too. When I get comments, I am jazzed, I visit other sites if it references a blog I have not heard of before.
There seems to be more and more people writing or echoing other stuff, but not quite the same increase in comment exchange/ Is it really the fault of spam?
And I am constantly reminded of the fascination notion of a “comment blogger” who only exists in the comment space of other people’s blogs. This is a golden idea as an illustration of the role of comments as exchange.
If we are only stressing the publishing aspects of blogs, we are missing the mark.
So this mornings philosophical question is, can blogging be sustained by a wide range of people? Or will it be the realm of the compulsives only?
So blogs as lead balloons? Keith Moon was either right or wrong, and sometimes a metal balloon can fly rather high..