My key takeaway message from Steve and those comments are
Check on who those audience are:
The second truth is reflected in something that Shelly Blake-Plock (@teachpaperless) has expanded upon in his excellent post ‘Why teachers should blog‘. I quote: To blog is to teach yourself what you think. For me, this is reflexivity in action. Your work is placed right out there on the blogosphere, in a public agora for others to read, reflect on, and comment on.
Writing on blogs is dialogical, much more so that it ever could have been in paper format. In some journals there is occasionally a dialogue between two experts, who each write a treatise in response to the arguments of the other.
As you’ve said, blogging is all about reflection, feedback and refinement of ideas. I don’t agree that our reflections need to be consistently meaningful for others and I think this perception can lead to a kind of ‘performance anxiety’ that prevents people from reflecting openly on less than fully-formed ideas.
I have the following questions:
1. Who are the audience of your blog? I have once written about the purpose of blogging here and Have bloggers polluted the media here. Here is blogging and learning and this transformational thinking behind blogging or on line learning. I particular like this pedagogy of blogging.
So blogging could be personal, and many of “us”, even amongst educators and bloggers may not feel comfortable in sharing the half-baked ideas in public, at least in the early stages of blogging or online learning.
My experience is: say what you want to say, and express them in words that you could understand and reflect upon them, even if it is not perfect. Sometimes, I may be able to do so in a more concise manner, if that is the case, simplify the message. You could edit your blog post later. Isn’t it?
If you are writing to a group of audience, would you like to pay attention to the tone and choice of words (syntax and semantics) to ensure that you are “addressing” your audience in a more professional manner? Keep your audience in suspense, but I would suggest not to flatter or patronize them, as this would soon backfire on us. Challenge your audience with new and novel perspectives that they may likewise want to challenge you, especially when you have found new memes, novel ideas that you want to share.
2. Is the power law applicable in the reading and interpretation of blog posts amongst bloggers?
Are you writing for the few or many others in the networks? Who would be attracted to your blogs? If you are writing like Stephen Downes, then the style of blogging and expectation would surely be different from that of a typical blogger. Stephen’s role as a curator (or a journalist, as he prefers to be called) is surely illustrating the reality of power law, that the earth “is not yet flat” but “flat”. He reaches thousands of bloggers a day, as he shares his findings.
3. How would the hands up and hands down concept apply to blogging when referring to The Equal Web? To this end, I think there are certain assumptions in the experiment that are only applicable to the classroom environment and may not be applicable in the case of blogging or online learning. Why? In a classroom environment, the teacher or the facilitator should encourage active learning in classes, by asking and directing questions, both to individual students at random and to specific students so as to arouse their interest and ensure learning takes place. This is also the golden rule in a typical classroom setting. However, in the case of online learning, the teacher would be taking the role of curator, facilitator and educator, and would normally allow for more autonomy from the students. It would be difficult to direct a question to a particular online student, unless it is under a synchronous learning environment like Elluminate or Ustream. Even then, the student or learner may not be comfortable in responding to the questions in an open or public space, as any answers that are inappropriate may not be the answer that is expected.
I think most of us would still like to have the hands up, both in class and off the class, in an online learning environment, as that is our intrinsic motivation, even if the answer is WRONG or STUPID. We might however, need to be aware of the power relationship which often inhibits our participation and engagement with those more knowledgeable others, and the challenges and level of support to the learners needed as cited by Rita here.
So, is the hands down RIGHT or WRONG? I think it’s up to your interpretation. But I reckon if there are more hands up in a class, then at least people (learners) are willing to risk being open, and not be too afraid of giving the WRONG ANSWER, though it could be a bitter lemon for many of us who have experienced in our past failures. Who dares win?
Were there any one who hasn’t failed? Not one, that I am aware of, in the history of mankind, except Jesus, IMO.
The following reveals the embarrassment that may be associated with such “impromptu response” and hands up in the open, as an analogy (or metaphor).
Please note that my intention is not to highlight what might go wrong when one is answering a question in a Beauty Contest with a “wrong” answer in public, but how people would perceive or judge “us” as bloggers or educators if we don’t explain ourselves well in written words, narratives, images, speech, or presentation (i.e. the semantics, the syntax, which are important in communicating our messages).
Would this be the worry we often have when we were new in blogging?
What are some ways in overcoming such anxieties? What advice would you give to other bloggers (new and the old hands)? How could one improve in blogging?
Photos: All from Flickr