Saturday, February 19, 2005

A time to blog?

First of all, an apology for mangling a Bible verse to make a title for this entry. It is, of course, an allusion to Ecclesiastes chapter 3, which starts:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (New International Version)

So why did I want to use this title for this blog entry? Well the worlds of education and of technology seem to have their seasons too - some ideas have their five minutes of fame before disappearing from view (anybody else remember OpenDoc?) while some catch on and grow beyond all expectations (look at how surprised the phone companies were when text messaging took off!).

In the world of Oor Wullie things are much simpler. The bools season is followed by conkers is followed by sledging and so on until he works his way back round to bools again. Unfortunately, in education, the only universal constant is change! It seems to me that every year when I go to SETT (and I’ve been going to SETT since before it was called SETT!) there is something else trying to claim its season under the sun. Two years ago it was tablet PCs, then it was Interactive Whiteboards and, at the most recent one, it was wireless handheld voting systems (like PRS or Quizdom) There is rarely the opportunity to wait for something to come around again so that you can have another go at it.

However, one such opportunity has recently come my way with the recent emergence of blogging’s season in the sun. David WarlickThere has been a sudden growth in the public awareness of blogs. Stories about blogs have been hitting the mainstream press with increasing regularity and traditional news media are setting up their own bloggs (for example the Guardian’s Newsblogg). This coincided with my discovery of David Warlick’s blog and my investigation of RSS (which I may feature in a future blog entry). I decided it was to re-investigate blogs and you are reading the results.

I created my first blog many years ago but didn’t know what to do with it. I started using it as an online bookmark resource where I’d publish “useful websites” along with a brief review. It seemed like too much pain for too little gain, so eventually it just died from neglect. However, I have been considering blogs and RSS anew and I wonder if it could be a useful tool for encouraging self-reflection. Many people find that the best way to learn something is to teach it to others because to teach others you have to be much more careful about organising and arranging your own understanding. Could blogs be used to help people order their thoughts about what they have learned? Could blogs foster the development of reflective learners? I don’t know yet, but I think I’d like to find out.

I speak at various training events and conferences about eLearning and one of the things I always bang on about is how important the C is in ICT. It stands for Communication and as an educator I find that much more interesting than the T of Technology. Clearly blogs provide a painless way for people to communicate on the World Wide Web. Learners can become creators of Internet information, not merely consumers.

At the moment I think it looks interesting. I’ll keep you posted about where that interest takes me.


Stephen said...

Hi David!
So.... You have a blog..... Hmmm. Good! Be interesting to see what you do with it. Hope things are well with you and yours...


David said...

Hello Stephen and thank you for the plug on your blog The Doggies Breakfast (although I thought at first the title of the post, "Bloggy Chum" was a new type of dog food). I really like your site and find the theology you discuss really interesting.

Can I ask, does your blog help you with your theology training? Does writing the blog entries help you reflect on the stuff you are learning, or is it just something you do for fun and relaxation?


Stephen said...

Well, to be honest my initial inclination to start a blog came as a result of a conversation with a fellow student (about half my age BTW!) who has a blog. It had become clear to me that he had espoused the brand of doctrine called the 'New Perspective on Paul'. This 'school' redefines some of the basic doctrines of the reformed faith in pretty fundamental ways. It also became clear to me that this doctrine was being quite effectively propogated through the use of blogs. I though to myself, 'shouldn't we be defending the reformed faith through this medium also'. So I started a blog too.

However, I found almost immediately I was out of my depth theologically. So I simply persisted in noting various more or less random thoughts and ideas for my own benefit. I have found the discipline of writing helpful in ordering thoughts very useful. Also, if anyone reads it and cares to comment then it may cause me to rethink what I have writtten. Some people have done that and it has been very useful to me.

A third area that has come to mind is that a blog may be a form of 'ministry'. I have tended to shy away from this idea since it smacks of self promotion without necessarily being controlled by the checks and balances of church life. However, I do know at least one non-believer who reads what I write and it has caused me to think a bit more carefully about the content.

It's quite good fun overall, and the interaction is quite interesting, though it does take up a lot of time.