At this year’s DevLearn, we’re putting a spotlight on the power of blogging for learning via the DevLearn Bloggers program. We’ve invited members of the DevLearn Bloggers team to write a post exploring how they approach blogging, and how it enhances their personal learning.
In this post we hear from Jane Bozarth, eLearning Coordinator for the State of North Carolina.
I’m excited about serving on the DevLearn Blogging Team. Over the years I’ve leaned on blogging quite a bit, starting with a Blogger blog way back in 2005.
As new tools emerged I found that Twitter – a microblogging product — proved a most satisfying place to post “a-has” and assorted musings without feeling pressured to generate a paragraph or 2 that I didn’t feel I really needed.
Signing on as a columnist with “Nuts and Bolts” for the Guild’s Learning Solutions Magazine put me at the other end of the sort-of-blogging spectrum: Not so much traditional articles as first-person considerations of design issues, tricks for professional practice, uses for new technologies, or thoughts around a concept in learning like the role of surprise. I find that this kind of writing helps clarify my thinking; even at only 750 words each column goes through at least 3 drafts. I especially like when an idea for an item sends me off researching something new, like music and the brain or accessibility guidelines. This kind of “spinoff thinking” is, I think, one of the best parts of the writing process, when a path you created for yourself suddenly takes a surprising little detour. The drafting and reflecting, even on a short piece, can lead to insights about your work, your life, and yourself, and help you find new interests and energy. I look forward working with the team at Devlearn in just a few weeks.
When David Kelly asked the Devlearn Bloggers to write a general introductory post about blogging and learning I admit I struggled a bit, especially given what is likely to come from my smart, articulate colleagues. So I’ll talk about something a bit different, about the way a blogger can encourage other people’s learning. This morning my British buddy Steve Wheeler mentioned that his dad had started “blogging” on Facebook and encouraged his friends to go take a look. What I found there was Ken Wheeler’s marvelous Facebook page, a frequently-updated two-finger-typed compendium of reminiscences about serving in the Royal Air Force during World War II; anecdotes about a childhood with 10 siblings, a challenging dad and a Cornish mother, who in a temper would call dad names he couldn’t understand; memories of the Queen’s Coronation; comments on the joy the senior member of a family feels as he watches a grandchild marry. And much more.
It is, more or less, the sort of thing a decade ago we’d have called an “oral history”, captured on tapes few would listen to or, if transcribed into a long document, would find a limited reach. Now a stranger on Facebook can reach out to him and say how much the posts mean in her search to learn more about her own father’s past. A young woman says she loves learning about her great-grandmother, from whom she fancies she got her fiery red hair. My great delight? Mr. Wheeler is completely awestruck by the magic of technology, with none of the fear. He marvels that family Facetiming from Cyprus is “Buck Rogers stuff” and – a man after my own heart – imagines we’ll be talking flying cars soon. He loves that comments come in from Malaysia and Poland and North Carolina. And at 87 he is a great cautionary tale to those of us who dismiss older folks as technophobes:
“I felt such a kick out of hearing from all over the world, that has grown smaller with the internet ,and is in almost every home in the world , this has put the world in easy reach to any one and every one. When I was on my first troop ship it took us 11 days to get to Egypt, now we can get to New Zealand and back again in that time, with a few days rest in between. What is going to happen next ? is it to be inter space travel. Are we going to have flying cars, to move about in?”
Mr. Wheeler is a reminder that everyone has something to offer, and that writing helps us learn and capture knowledge –personal, historical, institutional — while it helps others learn, too.
Want to share how you use your blog for learning and at conferences? Contact David Kelly to learn how to contribute to the “How I Blog” series.