REFLECTING ON MY FIRST YEAR OF BLOGGING

I started blogging in the middle of May 2007. In this post I reflect on my experiences after one year of blogging.

First, I’ll deal with questions about why I started blogging and why I have continued. I started with some rather naive ideas about communicating with a captive audience of clients, students and staff. With over 400 kids in the school at the time, I expected a couple hundred parents would be keen to follow my every word. Was I ever mistaken! It didn’t take me long to realize that no-one, not even my staff, was reading my blog. Since by that time, my blog was directed primarily towards staff and parents, the observation that they were not reading it, was perplexing, to say the least. Was it due to their slow adoption of RSS, lack of interest, ignorance or fear of web 2.0?

To stimulate parents to read my blog, I essentially quit producing our regular newsletter and continually promoted the blog as a source of information. At this point in time, I really don’t know if this approach has been successful in influencing parents. My ability to influence staff is much stronger, and so their professional development (PD) priorities were realigned to focus on technology. (If I played it right, I could almost equate successful PD with reading my blog.)

In less than six months, focusing PD on technology has lead to a spectacular increase in staff use of web 2.0 technologies, which will eventually affect their classroom activities, and a noticeable, but less spectacular increase in blog readership. For instance, one year ago a search of Youtube or Classroom 2.0 for Sekolah Bogor Raya would yield no hits, whereas now it yields several hits, with the number growing actively. In the cases of both parents and staff, I firmly believe the poor or slow adoption of RSS is the main reason for continuing low readership.

So, despite the lack of readers, why do I continue to blog? Simply because I am passionate about learning, and I learn far more from blogging, including both reading and writing (with its forced reflection), than from any other form of professional development. Others have cited the same reason. A heartfelt thanks is in order to all who contribute to the blogosphere.

Another reason for blogging is to market my school, which has succeeded at least in terms of increasing traffic to our website. I had hoped to start conversations about Sekolah Bogor Raya, which could provide opportunities for word-of-mouth advertising, since word-of-mouth advertising is perhaps the most important form, especially for schools. I am somewhat amazed by the slow realization by most Indonesian National Plus Schools of the potent marketing opportunity offered by the internet. One exception is Sekolah Global Jaya, whose innovative executive principal, Richard Henry, has recently started podcasting. Congratulations, Richard.

This post has rambled a bit, but maybe that’s just the nature of reflection, following ideas wherever they take you.

REFLECTING ON 2007

The year 2007 was truly remarkable in my education. This year I have learned about various Web 2.0 technologies, including:
RSS, an invaluable tool, still ignored by some 95% of internet users,
Tagging with del.icio.us, a great way to save internet information, and share it,
Blogging, which epitomizes the read/write Web 2.0,
Skype for free video phone calls, and
Audacity for sound recording.
As I approach my 64th birthday I can indeed say that I am a fine example of a life long learner.

Furthermore, I have recently joined Second Life, a virtual world, and Friendster, a social networking site frequented by staff and students, but I’m not active in either of these yet.

What has influenced my work most in 2007? Clearly reading blogs, RSS and tagging, which have become part of my daily routine, as I skim through the new postings from about 100 blogs on my RSS aggregator, Bloglines, read and digest a few, print a page or so for a particular teacher, and tag and file information which catches my fancy in my del.icio.us account. This information may relate to a specific UOI or classroom need, or a whole-school issue like professional development, or a topic that I am passionate about like the future of education.

Aside from a couple notable successes, it’s been a difficult year. My greatest frustration this year has been my inability to awaken in most of my staff any real appreciation for the potential pivotal role of Web 2.0 in education for the 21st century. I mean the run of the mill stuff, like blogs, wikis, and RSS, not far out stuff like Second Life. As you can see, I’ve got my work cut out for 2008 trying to encourage staff adoption of new technology and its utilization in teaching/learning.
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A thin slice from my del.icio.us account (http://del.icio.us/sekolahbogorraya) showing recently-tagged items.

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Part of the tag cloud from my del.icio.us account. Type prominence relates to the number of entries.

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A small part of my Bloglines account showing some blogs to which I subscribe (blogs with new postings in bold). The sidebar contains my full blogroll.

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