Magazine article Multimedia & Internet@Schools

Celebrating Communicating: Blogging Redux

Magazine article Multimedia & Internet@Schools

Celebrating Communicating: Blogging Redux

Article excerpt

As part of my aforementioned survey, I asked people to name their favorite blogs in three categories: teacher, librarian, and educational technology blogs. ... If you are not currently following these, you might want to visit them and add them to your feeds.

IN my previous column, titled "Celebrating Communicating: To Blog or Not to Blog?" I talked about the future of blogging and whether this particular communication tool was a bit passé, having been around for a while and now facing competition from other new and trendy options such as wikis, nings, and Twitter. By the time this column appears, there will likely be a new tool in cyberspace getting buzz. My conclusion was that blogs are indeed viable and important resources for sharing ideas and information in all disciplines. My original goal was to discuss blogging thoroughly, including the pros and cons, tips and pitfalls, and favorite sites. As I developed that column, though, I realized that I had bitten off more than I could chew. I managed to get through the first half of my intended material to cover (discussing whether or not blogs are outmoded) but I had not touched upon the rest of the material. So here I go with a second column about blogging.

I mentioned before that I learned a great deal from two informal surveys about online communication that I conducted in early fall 2007; they were completed in October. I had gathered information from colleagues in my favorite listservs, LM_Net, EDTECH, and TLC. The surveys were conducted via Survey Monkey. Complete results can be viewed at these two sites: http://tiny url.com/ywhr9b and http://tinyurl.com/2m43y9. If you visit the sites, you can see all comments as well as the numerical results. In addition to strongly favoring blogs for sharing professional ideas and information, respondents offered valuable insights regarding what makes a successful blog; they also shared their favorite blogs. These tips offer guidance as well as pitfalls to those of us who seek to use weblogs effectively. Here are some of the best:

* Have something to say! Unless you have a well thought-out mission or message for your blog, it may be best to hold off starting one up at all. I particularly like this quotation, "Content is the next killer app ... because it's the content that will keep us engaged, and coming back for more. It's the special sauce that can take a consumer and make them (sic) an active participant." Blogger David Armano offered this advice in his business blog, Logic+Emotion, but the advice holds true for all subjects.

* Update your blog frequently. If it languishes for too long, readers will lose interest and turn to other resources. Next to offering compelling content, this is probably the most important piece of advice that can be offered. If you are not sure you have time to blog, it may be best to wait until you do.

* While it is important to keep your blog current, avoid posting unless you do have something significant to say. Posting without much substance is the opposite side of the coin from the above admonition. If your entries are not relevant and cogent, readers will once again be disinclined to visit your site in the future.

* Avoid too much in the way of personal information. One of my colleagues is dismissive of blogs because she feels too many of them are just ramblings of authors about their family, travels, and other irrelevant information. I believe that it is very important to strike a balance here. One of my favorite bloggers is also my colleague and friend, Dr. Teri Lesesne, author of The Goddess of YA Literature (http://professornana .livejournal.com). She weaves her own story into her book reviews, but never talks about her personal life without relating it to what she has been reading. Her blog enjoys a wide following, and readers enjoy keeping up with her travels and experiences as well as her comments about books she is reading.

* Another thing to avoid is entries that are overly lengthy. …

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