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My Blog Story; Learning Through Sharing

After three failed attempts at using Twitter for professional learning, I finally got the gist of it. Rather, I found a tweeting system that worked for me while supporting a growing professional learning network. Nearly five years ago, I was approached by a colleague who appreciated my growth in the microblogging realm of Twitter. He suggested that I try blogging to deepen my learning through writing, there are times when 140 characters just aren't enough. Two hundred posts later, me and "Nocking the Arrow" are still here!

I have long believed in the heutagogical powers of learning portfolios. I was helping students develop digital portfolios before the cloud became an ideal option as a repository of learning artifacts. Students created a file structure containing artifacts representing their learning journey, they burned their summative projects to compact disc. While colleagues were building their digital presence and professional portfolios using Google Sites, I was drawn to Blogger, primarily because it was easy to use and I could compose and post information with any of my web-connected devices. 

At first, I did not have a clear purpose for blogging. Since I am a school technologist, I thought a series tech tips, (see Richard Byrne's or Alice Keeler's excellent examples) could support blended professional development at my school. However, I wanted a mechanism for documenting and reflecting upon my progress towards professional learning goals. My interests became focused on potentiating teaching and learning. This is what I wanted to learn about, and write about.

In 2013, I participated in Dr. Helen Barrett's ISTE session, "Digital Portfolios for Professional Development." The objective of this hands-on, full-day workshop was to create the framework for a web-based digital portfolio. While the rest of the class built a Google Site, I stuck to my guns with Blogger. A short time later, I attended George Couros's, "Blogging as Portfolio" workshop. He validated my thinking by sharing several examples of educators' blogs purpose-built as digital portfolios. Sue Waters and Silvia Tolisano have also provided excellent models of education blogs that model transparent documenting of learning. 

It took about a year for me to develop a blogging purpose and style that felt comfortable for me. Like others, I mistakenly went through a phase where my primary concern was on my blog's analytics; how many comments and page views, what's my Teach 100 ranking? I have been influenced by the work of Will Richardson, Audrey Watters, and Jackie Gerstein. I am becoming better connected, and better educated. I purchased a domain name and "Nocking the Arrow" became firmly entrenched as my digital learning space and social media hub, my blogfolio is documented evidence that blogging is making me a better learner.

In addition to this blog, I've contributed thoughts and information posted on Fractus Learning, AmplifiEducation, and Schoology Exchange. These writing opportunities spurred me to dive deeper into research, apply appropriate citation, and improve my writing mechanics with more thorough proof-reading. Reading a variety of blogs has helped me improve the layout and functionality of my blog. Readers are easily able to navigate, search, comment, and share. The power of professional portfolios; it's enjoyable and interesting for me to see how my writing and blogging have developed the past five years. 

Blogging has advanced my professional learning like no other activity. The fact that others can learn from my musings is a bonus. I subscribe to more than one hundred blogs, and I read at least a dozen posts each day. I make an effort to comment on at least one blog per day. I have learned so much from bloggers, call it reciprocal, professional courtesy to share what I am learning. I have aspirations of writing books, blogging is part of my focused 10,000 hours of practice that Malcolm Gladwell speaks of.

This post is also killing two birds with one stone. AJ Juliani has initiated a 30 Days of Blogging Challenge, and Ronnie Burt has created an EduBlogs Club. Both of these initiatives are helping me kick start my writing for 2017, sparking ideas for topics, creating opportunities for collaboration, and sharing learning journeys. If you are considering blogging in support of professional learning, expanding and supporting your PLN, or just want to scratch your documentarian itch, these programs provide an engaging, supportive pathway. I started blogging with the hope of initiating some sort of revolutionary change in education. What I've learned is blogging is much more satisfying when I just write for myself.

What is your blog story? Do you have questions about blogging? Do you have suggestions for improving this site? Your comments are welcome and appreciated.

Thank you for reading and sharing - take care.

Related Reading and References

"Why I Blog (And How You Can Too)." The Edublogger. 24 Sept. 2015.

"30 Days of Blogging Challenge (are You In?)." A.J. JULIANI. 02 Jan. 2017.

"#EdublogsClub 1: My Blog Story." The Edublogger. 03 Jan. 2017.

"My Secret Art of Blogging." Aaron Davis. 10 November 2016.

Photo credit (1) Ronnie Burt - "My Blog Story"


Sue Waters said…
Hi Robert

I loved how you talked about " I mistakenly went through a phase where my primary concern was on my blog's analytics; how many comments and page views, what's my Teach 100 ranking?" I'll often tell new bloggers to forget about their audience and focus on blogging for their own personal needs. Too often I see new bloggers stifled because they worry about what others might want to read. When you let go, share what you are passionate about it comes through and it will happen.

Sue Waters
tasteach said…
G'day Robert,
So many great blogger examples mentioned in your post. They are people who have also influenced me with my blogging and IT skills in school.

I never worried about the analytics until this year when my boss wanted to know how many students and teachers were blogging, how many posts, how many comments etc. I only work one day per week teaching blogging to interested teachers and students in Tasmania.

Hello Sue and Sue,
Thank you for reading and sharing your comments. To say I have been influenced by other bloggers would be a huge understatement. It's so great to connect with educators so far away - geographically speaking.
Once again, your comments are appreciated.
Lisa S. said…
Thanks for your insights! I've been a blog reader of many blogs for years without ever commenting much. As part of my participation in this challenge, I'm setting a goal for this year to comment on more blogs as I find value or have questions about the posts I read!
Bill Ferriter said…
Hey Pal,

Totally dig this post. Our district is pushing digital portfolios this year and TONS of people have taken that to mean that students need to create some kind of Google Site spotlighting their best work. Our school is going the blog route for many of the same reasons that you describe. I'm going to share the "blogfolio" term you've got here with them because it will help us to focus our efforts a bit and defend our choice to use blogs as a portfolio building tool.

Thanks for pushing my thinking today!

Rock on,
Thank you Bill! I wish I could take credit for the "blogfolio" term. Credit goes to Silvia Tolisano (@langwitches).
I value her expertise when it comes to learning through documentation. I've learned using labels or tags helps with the portfolio organization and review. I've started labeling posts with either applicable ISTE-C standards, or Danielson professional goals. I can then find and link the posts to my summative evaluation report. Best of luck with your portfolio implementation - two thumbs all the way up!
I am curious to see how your implementation goes. Let me know if I can be of some assistance with your project.
Thanks again,
Thank you Lisa,
Comments have the potential to turn posts into conversations. This drives an additional layer of learning to the blogging process. I, for one, appreciate your goal of commenting more frequently. I am enjoying the benefits of several online relationships that are driving global interactions. Good stuff.
Thanks again for reading and commenting - much appreciated!
Anonymous said…
I appreciate that you mention how "blogging is much more satisfying when I write for myself." It's true. Too often we get caught up in the logistics of other's thoughts and opinions of our own that it stifles our abilities and words. Happy writing. I look forward to reading more.

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