Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Not trying to pick a fight!

It seems I touched a minor nerve with James Farmer when I expressed (and Rick West seconded) my concern last week that blog-centered focus had been dominating my experience of educational technology sites.
Now it does happen that there are a number of people quite focused in the study and use of ‘blogging’, a fascinating new area of communication and community that’s only really developed in a big way over the last few years, many people say it’s changing the world, or has the potential too, haven’t you heard?
Yes, yes I have heard. A little too often, I'm afraid.

Blogs and other social software are an important phenomenon, and they deserve the attention of educational technologists. They fit into the ever-growing toolbox of communication and media solutions available to faculty and students. Will some courses use them to great effect? Absolutely, and Farmer is one of the people I expect to help bring good models to light for the rest of us.

Nevertheless, they're a niche application in the academy, at least for now. And rather than assuming that they're going to only grow and grow, I think it's actually quite likely that the explosive growth in blogging will soon see a contraction. We won't know for some months, but we might already be in it.

The big problem is that blogs have a voracious appetitte for one of an academic's most precious commodities--time. Writing and editing content, researching, and cultivating an audience takes a great deal of effort. Many well-written blogs will wither for lack of time, or the ability to reach a sustaining level of participation or readership.

Project-based blogging has been used to good effect by many educators. While these techniques may transform particular class experiences, they do not, nor are they likely to transform the academy or the teaching/learning process in general.

The media has hyped up the blogosphere in 2004, so getting out the word is no longer really needed from us. In fact, I think it's partly the responsibility of we who know the subject intimately to push back somewhat against the hype.

So, just to be clear about this, I'm pro-blog. How could I not be? I just don't think the topic should dominate so many column inches. All I suggest is that we strive for a greater sense of proportionality. I'm not dogging other writers for writing about whatever makes them happy; I'm only trying to inject my professional assessment into the discussion.

And with that, on to other things. There are so many.


Blogger EB said...

James responded in a flash back at incsub.

5:27 PM  

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