Friday, March 21, 2008

Why I started a blog and why maybe you should too

I shared with several friends, family and colleagues that I was starting a blog and while I got several, “It’s about times,” and “Congrats!,” I was surprised by the equal number of responses that went something like this: “Why do you want everyone to know your business?” “You better make sure you stay out of trouble.” “Be careful! A lot of people who have blogs get fired for sharing their personal lives.” Why do you want to keep a blog? Diaries should be kept private.” “Why do you want to publish your life online?”

You get the picture.

I thought by now people realized that blogs were often "more than they were in the days when people inappropriately posted their personal exploits and diaries online. I thought people, or at least my people, my friends, realized the value of having an online presence. While several of them did, many, many still did not. So, I explained to them what I’ve learned...
Having a digital footprint is crucial for your career if you want to establish credibility as an expert. While I have tons of work that lives online, there is nothing of my choosing directly pointing to me, what I believe, and what I do. As a result, I don’t have a real digital footprint and that means while I’ve done a lot of good work for my employers I have nothing that identifies my work, who I am, what I believe, and what I do.

My three primary inspirations to begin this blog were Penelope Trunk who eloquently explains why Blogging essential for a good career, Lucy Calkins who through the TCRWP taught me the value of helping students learn to love writing their own words, rather than being assigned to write about the words of others and Will Richardson who in his post URGENT: 21st Century Skills for Educators (and Others) First complains…

For all of the experts and scholars and pundits who were staking out a part of the conversation about educational reform, I couldn’t help leaving there wondering how many of them really have a sense of the changes that are afoot here. I looked up a whole bunch of the names of the presenters and I could only find a handful that have any real Read/Write Web footprint that would allow me to consider them to be a part of my network. And worse, it was painfully obvious by their death by PowerPoint presentation styles that their own adoption of technology as a communication tool not to mention a networked learning tool left a great deal to be desired. The governors, the state superintendents, the consultants…from none of them did I get the sense that they could give a great response to a request to model their uses of technology to teach and learn effectively, especially in the context of networks.

Will went on to say,
if you want your ideas to resonate with me and to be taken seriously, don’t just talk. Engage. Publish. Converse. Add your voice to the network of people who are living these ideas every day.

So it’s about time, I stop talking the talk and start walking the walk and I’m happy to say that I’ve convinced two of my closest friends to follow suit and start their own blogs too at The Innovative Parent and Woman Business Owner. I hope to inspire many others as well.

If you want to share your blogging experiences or need some help or advice, please comment here or email me at lnielsen@schools.nyc.gov and I’ll share how you can get started by quickly and easily setting up a blog, wiki, social network, and email with just the right name and focus.

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Additional reading: Why Every Teacher Should Blog from the Drape's Takes blog.

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