Professional Learning

Blog On: Think and Link with Weblogs

Online, off the cuff, and in your face.

June 1, 2005

One of the great things about the world of education is that it's filled with smart people who'll tell you what's on their mind if you can only find a way to connect. That's where blogs come in.

Blogs (the word is short for Weblogs) are online journals filled with personal thoughts, Web links and spirited reader discussions. "Free thinking and linking" is what prominent education blogger (and former Knight Ridder columnist) Joanne Jacobs calls the increasingly popular mode of mass communication.

The advent of easy-to-use blog software like Movable Type has dramatically simplified online publishing, making writing and editing blog entries extremely easy. The journal format helps bloggers reflect on how their position on an idea evolves. It also makes it easier for you, the blog reader, to devour whole chunks of the blog at one time, so you don't have to check back with every site every day.

Like the people who produce them, blogs can be thoughtful, provocative, dull, or funny. They can focus on education policy (like Eduwonk or Number 2 Pencil) or be smart, sassy, and highly personal (like The Blackboard Jungle, Edublog Insights, Hip Teacher, or Ms. Frizzle), to let you know you're not going it alone. There are even blogs about blogs, like Weblogg-ed, Will Richardson's smart site dedicated to discussions on how Internet-related technologies like blogs, wikis (server programs that allow multiple users to contribute to a Web site), and RSS (a way of syndicating content) can improve the K-12 classroom.

Most blogs have links to many other blogs, and this feature can very quickly make the blogosphere feel like an electronic hall of mirrors. So you'll have to be selective, as some blogs, like some people, aren't all that interesting.

A good place to begin is the Education Bloggers Network, a community of teachers, education professionals, and supporters who use blogs for teaching and learning.

So get online, get blogging, and get with it.


James Daly is the former editorial director ofEdutopia.

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