Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kick Starting The Blog - Even After It Has Started

Blogging is fun. Blogging is also a challenge. In an effort to have some fun and improve my blogging skills, I'm participating in the Teacher Challenge at Edublogs. For the next 30 days, they are posting tasks to be completed that are designed to help bloggers in education enhance their skills. Let's see how it works!

The first task it to write a post on "10 things you should know about blogging". So here is my list of 10...

1.  Blogging is harder than it looks. Yep, let's get that out of the way right up front. For me it is harder because it takes time. Time that I don't always have to give on a busy day. And it takes some creative thinking. I have to choose what to write about that I think will both inform and help my readers. And coming up with those topics also takes time. More time. For me, simply coming up with topics and having the time to write them is harder than I imagined it would be.

2.  Blogging is easier than it looks. Paradox? Sorta. Anything with technology has the risk that it can turn into a complex activity. And blogs around the 'net have so many pretty graphics and slide shows and videos and layouts...surely that can't be accomplished without a degree in computer science and a massive HTML reference library. And yet, that is the easiest part of blogging. I've blogged professionally on edublogs and google. I've blogged personally on google and posterous. And all those platforms make it extremely easy to manage the blog, make it look nice, connect it to all sorts of cool items with various widgets, and more. So it really has been easier - from a technical sense - than I ever imagined.

3.  Blogging takes time. I know, this was part of number one. But this is such a HUGE hurdle for me, personally, that I wanted to mention it again. Right now, as I type this, I've got a "to do" list on my desk that is longer than a novel. And I start teaching a 3-part workshop tomorrow on Social Networking...might be nice to finalize that and go over my notes. So carving out a few minutes of my morning to think through my list, to write the post, and to create the tag cloud is a definite time challenge.

4.  Blogging lets me be creative. And that is fun! I love writing when I actually have the time. I love tinkering with layouts and widgets. I love finding fun graphics to include now and then. So as a creative outlet, this is a good one.

5.  Blogging lets me learn. Oh boy, does it let me learn! I've learned how to set up a blog, how to work with templates, how to use various tools such as Grab and Skitch and Wordle and others to create graphics, show screen shots, etc. I've learned to create lots of links to other sites. I actually have even learned just a touch of HTML to tweak my blog a bit. So it has been an incredible opportunity for me to learn new things.

6.  Blogging as a "regular" person will never result in all those comments and connections that the "pros" have. Most of the blogs I follow seem to be written by folks who also write books on technology or present at conferences around the world. They have dozens of comments on every blog post and hundreds of twitter followers. My blog will never compete. I usually get NO comments. So I have to keep my ego in check and keep in mind that I'm writing to help the staff at my school and possibly a few others. I'm not writing to win awards and be the People's Choice as Blogger Of The Year.

7.  Blogging saves work. That's right...it saves work! And this is the counterpoint to all that time invested. Since so many of my posts are based on identified needs in the school where I work, once I write it, I no longer have to travel from classroom to classroom to demonstrate that same technique or share a resource. So carving out the time to write allows me later to just refer folks to the blog. Time saved.

8.  Blogging helps me network. Even though I'm not a popular blogger like some folks, I have met many nice folks through both professional and personal blogging. I'm part of a blogging alliance of educators. And I've established some connections through this medium that I would have never had in any other way. And that has been fun and helpful.

9.  Blogging is something I sometimes want to quit. And you will, too. There are days where I just feel that no one is reading. No one is learning. No one cares. And I just want to stop. And that is often when I get trapped in to not posting for a week or more. And that is something I have to push through...remembering the benefits of blogging and staying on track. But no matter how many benefits, there are still those days.

10.  Bloggers will never be able to avoid a post that is some sort of list of "ten things....". Just like this one. There are always memes, lists, whatever. Do the ones you enjoy. Do NOT feel obligated to do every little thing that comes along.

There...ten things you should know about blogging. Or maybe, it is just ten things I should remember about blogging - especially on those days when I want to quit. Cause really, I do enjoy it and want to get better!


  1. Emil, this is such an interesting post and thank you for sharing all these thoughts. You have some wonderful points that people should know about blogging. I quickly looked up skitch and grab as I didnt know those tools. Is grab and online games site and if so, which ones do you use or how do you use these in your blogs or classroom? Looking forward to your future posts. The second challenge comes out tomorrow.

  2. Emil
    Great post. I am doing the challenge as well. It does take time. Indeed. What I also find is it takes time in reading others blogs and learning from them. I have to decide what I put in my Google reader etc. It could take up all day and teachers dont have all that much time!

    I was just thinking today, do I really want to get involved in the educational world of twitter. And I think the answer is coming to me. No! At some point there has to be an end point!
    New Zealand.

  3. I agree with your points Emil. I find writing on my personal blog a real challenge, I find it much easier to keep my class blog updated. When I think back on the things I'm doing now, and the tools I'm using, many of them are as a result of blogging. Fortunately most of my students love blogging too!

    Kathryn, I understand what you're saying about twitter, but an awful lot of the wonderful blogs I read, and many of the new tools I try out have come from the people I follow on twitter.