Is This a "Learning" Blog?
December 10, 2004 09:52 AM
So because of this little presentation I will be giving about blogs and learning, I have been spending a lot of time surfing through a lot of the knowledge management blogs, and reading up on other issues related to learning and dialogue etc.... Suddenly I am becoming much more aware of my own blog habits, wondering if I am actually learning as much as I can through my blogging habits.
One thing that I notice is that currently I tend to comment on other people's sites more than I write anything substantive on my own. I think it is because it feels a bit more private. When I comment on another blog I feel as though I am talking to the author, someone I know. When I write on my own blog though, I am talking to a couple hundred people, and I have no idea who most of them are. That's a little scary. I realize, of course, that there may be hundreds of people reading my comments on the other blogs as well, but I even so I feel a little safer in the assumption that the click-through rate to a comment author's blog is pretty low, meaning that despite my name appearing after my comment, I am for the most part anonymous.
As part of the presentation, I have begun thinking about what are some general tips for blogging if the main goal is learning and personal development, as opposed to simply broadcasting photos (such as I do) or editorial writing meant to "convince" or educate others, or tripling your daily hit count. ( I'm not saying that any of these are bad, but I wonder if it is the most efficient way to learn. ) Some of these are pretty obvious I guess, some may be wrong. They are just observations, based on what I see other people doing, about what I feel I should be doing, and what I feel I am doing wrong.
(That's a photo of me being very introspective)
- Learn to use the tools, be on the lookout for new tools that fill a need or help you do something you already do, but more efficiently. Dedicate some time to exploring, but not too much. There is no need to be an early-adopter to be an effective learner. Devote your time to your learning. Let others try out the latest tools, and be sure to adopt the good ones when they eventually catch your attention.
- One would think that I, being a programmer, would spend too much time playing with tools, but in fact, just the opposite is true. I am a latecomer, I'm anti-technology. I only just recently started using an RSS reader. I can't believe I waited so long. I tried Furl a while back and didn't like it, but now I love it (maybe because I am using a RSS Reader now).
- Be self-motivated Set aside time for learning. Give it the dedication you would any other traditional class. Learn time blog time management skills.
- Of course there are only so many hours in the day, but even after I quit work I used a lot of time for reading, but didn't devote much time to learning via blog, i.e. formulating my ideas into posts, and engaging with other bloggers. The little time that I did devote... well, most of what I wrote never made it to the light of day.
- Identify healthy learning communities. Find an open, inviting, non-confrontational blog networks that interest you and appear to be learning from each other already.
- There are a lot of things that I am interested in, and would like to learn more about, but I have never really taken the time to follow the conversations going on around those interests. At best I find one or two blogs that write about it, and I hit them once or twice a week. I don't spend much time following their blogroll or links of commenters. - I also spend too much time reading people who are obviously out there to get a rise of their readers. It's fun, but it's about as useful for learning as I imagine watching Bill Oreily would be (I have never seen his show so it's only hearsay.)
- Actively engage these communities. Without being a pest, read, quote, comment on, link to, and trackback other blogs that interest you. Share your relevant knowledge and ideas. Keep in mind, however, how much time you have to spend, and make sure that the number of communities, or members in the community does not surpass a manageable number. Remember that dissipation is a characteristic of chaordic learning communities. You are free to leave a topic or community and join others.
- Sometimes I feel that I comment too much on some sites, and am completely anti-social with regards to the rest. I should spend more time reading around, thinking about it, and injecting my thoughts were they might be valuable.
- Give it time. It takes time to find your voice and develop a style you are comfortable with, as does learning what tools to use and when. Becoming a part of an established community takes time and dedication. Other bloggers must first notice you, then be convinced that your ideas and participation have more value for them than the other hundreds of thousands of blogs vying for their attention.
- No problem for me there... I have given it time, way too much time, but I haven't focused on any of what I mentioned here.
Keeping it learningful.
- Visit blogs outside your community Occasionally you find a new author that offers a new perspective, something you had never thought about. This helps you and your learning communities.
- Only recently have I begun to make an effort to step outside of my usual visitations. Just preparing for this presentation has introduced me to a mountain of great blogs I have started reading. I plan to make it a rule to follow one "new" blog each week and see where it leads, making sure to vary the topic. I would also like to start reading blogs with a little more conservative political leanings, which I don't normally seek out. (Remembering of course to keep and open mind...)
- Avoid writing for an audience. Write for yourself.
- This is what I see as the single biggest inhibiter of my learning. I am too dang afraid. Half of what I write never makes it onto the site, either because I think it is too obvious, and it reveals my ignorance, or I am not sure of it's validity, and it would reveal my stupidity. I have to force myself to write for the sake of putting my thoughts down for my own benefit. This of course does not guarantee that anyone else will care, but it has a better chance of interesting others that nothing. For too long I have just relied on my photos as a crutch. When I was too afraid to post what I wanted to, I would just post some photos and call it a day.
- Avoid getting caught up on “informing” others. A learning blog need not be a textbook. It is a space for ideas to develop and change through dialogue with others. It doesn't have to be "right" all the time.
- This (and lack of time) is what killed my short lived Sustainability blog. I felt (imagined) pressure that I had to write it as an authority, rather than a learner. I was afraid to write something that may not be correct.
- Don't be afraid to write the obvious.
- The times when I believe what I am writing is correct, I am afraid to post it because I feel that I should have known it all along. Even if I did know it all along, who cares about the obvious? Once I start thinking about that, I freeze up and *nothing* is good enough to post.
- Avoid getting tied to one specific topic It is your learning blog. Write about whatever you are interested in. Different topics will engage you with different communities, This will bring information and ideas from various communities, as well as introduce those communities to other topics. Writing about whatever interests you also lets your readers know who you are, gives them a context in which to engage you.
- I began to see my blog as a photo-blog. I felt that my visitors were coming for the photos, and that was my identity. If I start blabbing about the environment or what not, I will alienate my regulars, and then what will I have...
- Treat blogging as a dialogue, not a debate.
- As I said, I usually spend more time writing substantive topics in comments on other peoples blogs than on my own. Looking back at some of my comments, I am wondering how "open" they sound. Although I comment on points of view that I disagree with, I never comment on something I have a negative feeling about. I wonder though how the comments come across to the author. Even when I disagree, I really have to work harder on letting go of my assumptions and turning off my defenses, allow myself to understand where the author is coming from.
- Avoid making it a chore. remember, it is self-organizing. There are no rules for attendance. If there are times when you just don't want to blog, don't. A principle of chaordic learning is dissipation.
- I guess I don't really have this problem with this site. Posting photos is just too easy.
These are all characteristics I imagine would make a good learning blog, but these are also areas I am planning to work on, with the goal of making my blog a learning blog. If you catch me copping out with more "Gee I'm busy lately" or "Look at these photos. Bye." type posts, give me a slap in the head.
if i may reccommend a blog?
you might like it. its not mine, but i like it.