Should Students Blog?

During the second week of EDU 6323 – Technology as a Medium for Learning, I had my graduate students examine blogging for learning.  In addition to starting Michelle Miller’s Minds Online, they read Stephen Downes’ Educational Blogging, Henry JenkinsWhy Academics Should Blog, Steve Wheeler’s Seven Reasons Teachers Should Blog, Sue WatersTop 10 Ways Blogs and WordPress Are Used In Schools, and Vicki DavisLove Song to My Readers.

To add to the context, I also asked students to view Sir Ken Robinson‘s TED Talk:

Finally, I asked students to go to Teach 100 and find 3 blogs that resonated with them.

Their discussion posts aggregated yielded this Wordle –

Week2Wordle

The blogs they liked (and the spread shows the diversity of 14 graduate students):

So, a mixture of corporate blogs, edited blogs, and individual educator blogs.

One of the questions I asked my students was whether students “should” blog?  The answers were generally positive, but with interesting additional notes.  Some felt that we should start students journaling in elementary school, but within safe zones … with mixed feelings about the appropriate age for students to blog on the open web.  Others felt that grading blogs diminished their learning potential – it led to extrinsic motivation rather than intrinsic.  Most felt that blogging needed to be purposeful and aligned with learning objectives.  Most saw a clear alignment between student blogging and Miller’s call for course redesign through technology.

As to whether teachers and faculty should blog … most were skeptically positive.  In fact, one student decided this was the week for her to stick her toe in the blogosphere.  Unfortunately, within a day of her establishing her blog through GoDaddy, it was hacked and hijacked.  An unfortunate learning opportunity for us all … and she does plan to try again with a more secure setup.

This exploration of blogs leads next week to exploration of web searches and website validity.  It should be interesting!

 

A Conversation about Blogging

This spring, I am fortunate to be once again co-teaching GRAD-602 with Jeffrey Nugent.  We are joined this year by our CTE Graduate Fellow, Laura Gogia.  As we have done in the past, we will have our GRAD-602 students reflecting on the class using individual blogs.

Jeff, Laura and I sat down Friday morning to discuss blogging as a genre.  As Seth Godin noted in his discussion with Tom Peters back in 2009, blogging is so much more than a web publishing platform.  Jeff, Laura and I discussed three ideas:  (1) writing in a hypertexted media,  (2) the ability to add images and videos to text, and (3) the art of commenting.

Have a listen, and let me know through comments how this did or did not resonate with you…

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A New Crop of Bloggers

bumper cropThis spring, I am co-teaching a graduate course in the VCU Preparing Future Faculty Program called Teaching, Learning and Technology with my colleague Jeff Nugent.  One of the requirements of the course is for our 24 doctoral students and post-docs to keep a learning  journal via a personal blog.  We have aggregated their posts onto our class portal.

In the first three weeks, we have discussed the changing landscape of higher education, the impact of the web on learning, the potentials and challenges associated with blogging, and the use of the Seven Principles of Good Practice as a lens through which to assess the fit of any particular technology to teaching.  The photo above reminds me of the excitement of their exploration, and they are definitely buzzing!

Jeff has a thoughtful post on their initial exploration of blogging in Scholarship of Teaching, Say Hello to the Web…. I thought that I would take a different tack.  I went back and grabbed the text of all 24 blogs where they were discussing their initial uses of blogs (as it appeared that only one had previously blogged).  I then dumped the resulting 17 pages of text into Wordle to see what emerged.

GRAD602mod1

Very unscientific (which may turn some of them off), but here is what I see.

Besides blog and blogging, the most used words were “students”, “think”, “time”, “teaching”, “like” and “class”.

As our class is on teaching, it makes sense that students, class, and teaching popped out as key words in their blogs.  The word “think” was used multiple ways, as in “I need to think about this more…”, “I think that…” or “think outside the box.” What is evident to me is that we have disturbed their comfort zones, and this has resulted in quite a bit of thinking…which I see as a good thing.  It is working both ways.  The questions they raise both in their blogs and in class have me thinking quite a bit.

Many are both excited by the possibilities blogging affords (new information, new connections) but they are very concerned about time constraints and time commitments reading, writing, and commenting place on new Ph.D.’s.  One stated that blogging may be a luxury one does after they have established their research, But others saw possibilities that made the time constraint worthwhile,  For instance, one saw possibilities of using blogging to network in order to find a position.  Given that time constraints has emerged as a huge concern in class, it does not surprise me that it was a key word in their collected posts.

As for “like”, there were some that appear to like blogging, some that were not sure if they like blogging, and some that appear to not like blogging.  So I am not reading too much into that word.

crop5What is definitely coming through their blogs is both wonder at how technology is changing teaching and concerns as to the fit of social media to their lives as future researchers.  Our discussions in class raise equal measures of excitement and skepticism, with some frustration at the current state of higher education.  They are a focused group who fly right to the point, and in doing so, keep Jeff and I engaged and enjoying the course.  I encourage those in academia who read this blog to connect with these students through our portal and add your voices in response to their questions and concerns.  I am enjoying the experience and I suspect that you will as well.

{Photo Credits: dsevilla}

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New Bloggers

classblogsI mentioned in my last post that I was shifting my online instruction this semester from one based on Blackboard discussions to one based on blog posts.  Over the weekend, my graduate students posted their first blog posts in response to an assignment.

I am teaching a graduate class called Educational Technology for School Leaders.  This class has thirteen K-12 teachers working on their Masters in Education, and these students are scattered over three states.  The option of getting together face-to-face does not exist.  Based on initial introductions, none had ever blogged before, and most were pretty nervous about setting up their blogs and publishing on the open web.  That nervousness was precisely why I wanted them to dip their toes in the waters and begin to experience the possibilities of networked learning.  As future potential administrators, I believe it is helpful if they swim in the same waters in which their students swim.  So blogging through the semester is one way to achieve that goal.

I provided links to getting started tutorials for our school blog, Edublogs, WordPress and Blogger, but left it to the students to decide what platform to use.  The distribution was pretty even across the choices.  All thirteen successfully set up their blog and then successfully posted their first post on time.  I pulled the various blogs together into our class Google Sites page.

As the illustration to the left demonstrates, they did not just grab the default page.  I was excited by the diversity of design and styles that they chose for their own blogs.  I also was excited (as were several of their classmates) with their experimentation right off the bat with embedding videos and pictures.

And quite frankly, I was impressed with their first posts.

As an assignment, I asked my students to watch the YouTube video “Welcome To My PLE“, in which a 12 year old girl describes how she uses the web for learning.  My simple question to my students was – would Wendy (the 12-year-old girl in the video) be welcomed in your classroom.

My students were across the board awed by the prowess this 12-year-old demonstrated in her use of the web.  Many felt that they would be intimidated by Wendy, though others wondered if Wendy was already in their classes.  As a group, they felt motivated to becoming more comfortable with the web so that they could effectively guide Wendy as she took control of her own learning.  In fact, they tended to cherish the fact that Wendy felt responsible for her own learning.  As one of my students noted, she wished she had 15 Wendy’s in her class.

There was also an interesting underlying theme regarding not whether they themselves would welcome Wendy, but rather would their fellow teachers, their parents, and their administrators welcome Wendy.

For a group of self-proclaimed technophobes who feel they are way behind Wendy, I was very pleased with their first post.  It is a good baseline from which we can grow as a group.  We will continue to blog weekly on different topics, and in the coming weeks, will explore some of the more difficult issues of ethics, politics, and law regarding the web.  I suspect that the quality of the posts will continue to improve, and I would ask those who follow me to take a moment and check out our class Google Sites page and if moved, comment to some of my students.  Nothing adds quality to blogs like the realization that someone besides the professor and Mom is reading their work!

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Blogging Into the New Academic Year

teacherblogMy Fall 2010 online course kicked off this past weekend, and unlike face-to-face classes, the process of getting to know my students is slow but interesting.  Three-quarters have now logged in, but by the nature of the design, it will be a week before many of them begin interacting with each other.  My students are all Visiting International Faculty from a variety of countries, working on their Masters in Education from VCU while they teach in K-12 schools across three states.  I am using the Wimba Voice Board as a way to hear their voices and begin connecting with them.  They were here this summer as a cohort, so I would suspect that they have already formed pretty tight bonds.

As the outsider, I wanted to do something a little different with their introductions.  I originally planned to have them use the game at http://www.gone2thedogs.com that computes their breed as a dog, but as luck would have it, the site went down the day the course started and still has not come back up.  So as a back-up, I redirected students to the dog breed calculator at Dogster.Com.

But that is only the icebreaker.  After teaching online for 15 years and blogging for nearly 3 years, I felt that it was time to practice what I preach and move my students from commenting in Blackboard discussion boards to more open reflecting on the web.

After all, this course is entitled Educational Technology for School Leaders.  In this digital age, “educational technology” increasingly means web-based technology.  Over the last three years, I have found that the K-12 teachers I teach start this course with a real fear of the web.  Part of that is the fear of the unknown…the fear that they will appear less knowledgeable than the children in their room.  But the other fear is based on genuine issues of safety, inappropriate behavior, and lawsuits.  As Scott McLeod noted last year, if we are not working on the web and teaching appropriate use of the web to our children, who will?

So it is time for my course to stop exploring the web and start using it.

blog_instrWith only 13 students this fall, this feels like a good class in which to try this.  Neither I nor they should be overwhelmed.  Following  the good example set by Jon Becker in his Education Politics class, I have created a Google Sites class space to aggregate the RSS feeds from my students.  As they are checking in to the Blackboard space, they are finding links to four potential blog sources that they can use to create their blogs.  The first few to do so are following advice that I got from Jeff Nugent and have passed on to them, which was to suggest that they could blog anonymously.

Bill Kist listed some good blogging guidelines on page 73 of his book The Socially Networked Classroom from Bud Hunt which I am modifying for a graduate level class:

1.  While your blog is your space, treat the one your are using in this class as your academic publishing platform.  Speech that is inappropriate for your classroom is probably inappropriate in your blog.  While critical reflection and healthy skepticism are part of blogging, your comments should always be presented in a way that reflects how you present yourself in your classroom – as a professional.

2.  You are not required to divulge your identity in your blog nor identify your school.  Your blog is a public space on the Internet.  Do not share anything you do not want the world to know.  As a recent video noted, what happens in Vegas stays on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a host of blogs.  Assume that a future employer will review your blog and write accordingly.

3.  Finally, practice good scholarship on the web.  Link to your sources.  Give credit to others if you use their thoughts.  If you do link to a website, make sure that you have reviewed that link.  If it contains material that might make others uncomfortable, think before you use it.  We will be exploring the darker side of the internet in Module 3, but that does not give you license to pull it into our class.

With the links above, I am obviously focusing on the technology as I help them start, but I also think that it is important that they see this blog as a real departure from education as usual.

They are used to college courses requiring them to work and submit original thoughts (through papers and online discussions), and they are also used to that original material being shut off from them at the end of the semester.  That is the way universities have taught for hundreds of years…and the original learning management systems simply replicated that model.  But as others have been doing (and I have enjoyed watching Jeff Nugent do this with his classes, as well as the neat work up at University of Mary Washington), some students have been given ownership of their own intellectual property.  The blogs that my students create will belong to them…to do with as they will.  I will be grading their use during my course because that is what professors do.  But the thoughts they raise and the reflections they post will be theirs.  They may or may not continue blogging after this semester, but my hope is that they will connect to the larger network of fellow learners…and in the process, become better able to advise the not-so-savvy digital students inhabiting their classrooms.

By next week, they should have created their own blog.  I am going to have “topics” for reflection on a weekly basis, and part of the rubric for grading includes commenting to fellow students.  Their first reflection will be on the “Welcome to My PLE” video I discussed in my July 14th post on the Socially Networked Student.  I am interested in their take on this 7th grader and her use of the web for learning.  Bud Deihl and I used this video in our talk at Elon University and got some interesting push-back from some faculty who only saw an ability to cut and paste.  I am wondering what my students see?  Is she typical?  Would she be welcome in their classrooms?

The students will post by September 10th and comment through September 12th.

I am excited and looking forward to seeing where this use of social media will take my learning and their learning as the semester unfolds.  For those of you who have taken this approach already, any advice will be welcomed!

{Photo Credit: cogdog}

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Blogging Confession

guilty2I admit it.

I have not been blogging much lately.

There are excuses.  To a large degree, I have been wrapped up in other work, so my connections to networked learning have been primarily through Twitter. We have been gearing up for our week-long summer institute, which this year focuses on online learning.  I have also been participating in our Preparing Future Faculty graduate class.

But really, those are just excuses.  I have missed putting my thoughts down…and more importantly, receiving feedback on those thoughts from others.  Reading CogDog‘s barking this week on Blogs Alive or Dead is mentally pushing me back online.

So let me add to the chorus of “I’m not dead yet!”  Time to get back into blogging.  Tomorrow, I journey up I-95 to attend for the third year in a row Faculty Academy 2010 at University of Mary Washington.  This is always a re-energizing opportunity…so I plan to use it to kick start my blogging once again.

After all, where better than the home of UMW Blogs and the creative juices that flow from this institution?

So watch for more starting tomorrow.

{Photo Credit: Jim (jaytay)}

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Who Blogs Anymore?

sayeverythingbanner

Apparently not me.  When I started blogging two years ago, I was averaging three posts a week.  Now I am down to one a month for the past few months.

Luckily, there are those who do blog, as my Google Reader affirms daily!  I still enjoy reading blogs, but I have fallen out of the habit of routinely commenting and blogging myself.

A few weeks back, I finished reading a fascinating book by Scott Rosenberg called Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It’s Becoming, and Why It Matters.  Having spent the past decade growing up with the internet, I found this book timely and full of interesting background around a subject that I thought I already knew!  It also is inspiring me to give my blog new energy!

In the opening eight chapters, Scott details how blogging began and grew by focusing on a person or two per chapter that highlighted his conceptual points.  He starts with Justin Hall, a nineteen-year-old in 1994 who began sharing everything about himself on his website, but more importantly, added links to other sites as part of his sharing.  Dave Winer began posting his own soapbox and invited others to do the same.  The early bloggers had to know HTML, but they helped each other figure out that it was not that hard to do.  Jorge Barger coined the term “weblog” (though he wanted it to be called Web Log because he thought “blog” was a hideous term!).  These early bloggers saw their role as a service – filtering the mass of information for their readers.

The chapter on Evan Williams, Meg Hourihan, and the development of Blogger was particularly interesting.  I found it fascinating that the same person who made blogging easy by developing Blogger also created Twitter, which in some ways is the reason I blog less.  If I were to name my personal learning aids, Twitter would be first and blogs/RSS reader second.

Sometime in the past week, I sent my 5,000th tweet – and that fact did not even register!  In the past two years, I have posted 157 times to this blog, so that would suggest that my choice for social dialogue is Twitter.  Yet, Twitter – while great for connecting and communicating – remains less a reflective medium than a reactive one.  And I still benefit from reflection.

Thus this blog continues to serve a useful purpose for me.

As tools such as Blogger made it easier to blog, the number of blogs continued to rise.  Some rose for political purposes, such as Josh Marshall‘s Talking Points Memo.  Others tried to make money off blogging, such as Robert Scoble and Michael Arrington of TechCrunch fame.  I have been a Boing Boing fan for several years, yet did not realize the rich history behind this website until Scott laid out its story.

Scott also detailed some of the darker sides of blogging, detailing the story of Heather Armstrong and how her blogging led to her being fired from a job.

The final three chapters review the rise of citizen journalism and its impact on mainstream journalism, as well as the evolution of blogging itself as more and more blogs develop (including of course my own blog).  As Scott noted, in the late 1990’s, the word “blog” did not even exist, and a decade later, 184 million people worldwide had started a blog.  Not all keep it up, but the impact on connections and communication remains staggering!  More importantly, just as there now seems to be “an app for that”, so too blogs cover such amazing diversities of fields that any area of interest probably already has a blog covering it.  It is simultaneously globally ubiquitous and razor sharp in its focus.

Blogging continue to evolve.  Scott noted that some of the energy that previously poured into blogs now pours into social media like Facebook or Twitter, yet people continue to look for ways to find their voice, and blogs serve that purpose well.

At our Center for Teaching Excellence, my colleague Bud Deihl has launched a new initiative around digital storytelling.  While his focus is the use of digital images to tell a story, in many ways blogging has always been about telling a story.  Scott ends by noting that bloggers are:

“…writers who sit down to type character after character, word upon word, day by day, steadily constructing, out of their fragments, little edifices of memory and public record…Individually they are stewards of their won experience; together they are curators of our collective history…”

Who blogs anymore?  I hope I continue to…and I hope others continue to not only reflect on my thoughts but offer me their wisdom in return.

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Is the CMS Dead? (…and other UMW FA 2009 Fun)

Bud Deihl and I traveled north a few miles to attend the University of Mary Washington’s Faculty Academy 2009 in Fredericksburg, VA.  It was a chance to reconnect face-to-face with some of my Twitter friends like Martha Burtis (see her reflections on this day here), George Brett and Laura Blankenship.

One of the highlights for me was the lunch debate between the Right Reverend Jim Groom and John St. Clair on “Is the CMS Dead?”  In a lively back and forth, the original Edupunk Jim suggested that the course management system was only good for management, not learning, and as such, SHOULD be dead … but appeared to be more undead (I knew zombies would appear at some point in his talk).  John countered that he thought the talk was about CMS – conservative mid-sized sedans – and that he thought most people wanted a sensible automobile and not some do-it-yourself hovercraft!

Both gentlemen gave great passionate arguments to their side.  I talked to Jim afterward and asked why the question had to be CMS “or” open systems?  In the past two semesters, I have used the Blackboard CMS for the things it does well (document and link management, rosters, grade management), but also used blogging, Jing and wikis for collaborative work with my students.  In other words, Blackboard served as a portal and launching point for my students into the open web.  This seemed to me to be a case of “AND” rather than “or.”

I enjoyed the lunch debate, but in reality, the whole day was fantastic!

James Boyle gave an invigorating keynote on “Cultural Agoraphobia: What Universities Need to Know About Our Bias Against Openness.”  Having just come off the Board of Directors for Creative Commons, he was uniquely qualified to discuss this issue.  He started with a history of the internet and how openness was a bug meant to be fixed later, but the internet grew more rapidly than anticipated and openness spawned many wonderful opportunities and profitable enterprises.  It definitely caused problems and concerns, but also amazing positives in the business world, entertainment, government, and education.  Yet, Boyle stated that education has yet to deal with its concerns and instead simply is biased against openness.  He noted that openness meant not only the ability to copy but also the ability to improve.

Thoroughly enjoyed the talk.  Jeff Nugent has recently had us at the CTE discussing licensing our Center organizational web material with a Creative Commons license.

I attended a great panel discussion by UMW faculty on their use of blogging in their classes.  It was a chance to see a very diverse mix of blogs associated with writing classes, art classes, science classes and math classes.  One of the take-aways was that blogs allowed time for students to reflect on critical issues for which there just was not time in 50-minute classes.

Cole Camplese of Penn State University gave an excellent talk on emerging trends impacting teaching and learning.  I loved his observation that we view what our students do as “technology,” but that it is only technology to those of us born before technology.  To the students raised in a wired world, it is simply a means of communication and connection.  I was blown away by the fact he listed that 40% of students at Penn State no longer bring a TV to campus.  They get their “TV” and entertainment straight off the web.  He noted that our universities are still designed as if our students are going to receive our wisdom and reflect it back to us, when in reality, through their own content and knowledge creation, our students act more as amplifiers than reflectors.  At Penn State, they have cast blogs as a form of digital publishing and are exploring ways for students to keep their own digital content.  If blogs are viewed as personal content management systems, then digital expression is seen as a form of scholarship that must be systematically supported.

I was also impressed that a third of PSU faculty reported using YouTube instructionally.  🙂

The last session of the day was a workshop run by Laura Blankenship on “Creating a Personal Learning Network for Yourself and Your Students.”  We will be discussing the same topic at our upcoming Teaching and Learning with Technology Institute in June, so I was interested in seeing how Laura presented this concept.  She did a great job by first focusing on problems that needed solving, and then brainstorming from the group web applications that could be used to solve these problems.  In the course of the discussion, we discussed RSS feeds, Google Reader, delicious, Jott, and a host of other tools.

One last side thought – Twitter was very active among participants, and the hashtag #umwfa09 made note-taking unnecessary.  However, Twitter had scheduled maintenance today which hit right at the end of Cole’s talk, and it was momentarily frustrating to lose it mid-conference (so much so that I complained about it in Facebook!!!)  🙂

Great day – looking forward to Day Two tomorrow!

Telling Your Story Differently

Like any major institution, there is sometimes overlap in training opportunities being offered around campus.  We noticed this morning that I have a workshop on blogging today and Technology Services has one next week.  Interestingly, mine is about web publishing and instructional opportunities (with 4 people signed up) while the other is about the mechanics of setting up a blog, and has 12 people signed up.

Workshop In Stone

I probably read too much into this, but it suggests that people are not interested in the conversation about “why” one should or should not blog, they just want to know “how” to do it. And one reason I read too much in to it is that whether we are talking 4 or 12, few faculty in general even consider blogging as part of their professional life.

The issue may not even be blogging per se, but rather “workshops” as a verb.  Few faculty in general see a need to change how they do what they do.  While workshops remain a necessity to efficiently provide training, those who read this probably have shifted much of their professional development to the social media landscape (as I have).  But the majority of faculty do not use social media for their PLE, and if they see no need to change, they probably view workshops as something they do not need.

This was on my mind when I opened the April edition of Tom Peters Times newsletter, which arrived today in my email and contained several interesting articles on customer experience.  It linked to the following video of a Southwest Airlines flight attendant rapping his mandatory pre-flight  safety announcement.

You have to admit that this person delivered his message in a new and compelling way!

I am not suggesting that I begin singing my workshops…that would definitely drive down participation.  But I do think we in faculty development need to [re]examine our approaches in light of social media.   Taking a cue from the marketing types, networks like Twitter, Yammer, and Facebook could all be used to announce and draw in participants.  But more importantly, I need to look at the total delivery.  Would a “conversation” about blogging with faculty here be enhanced if bloggers from around the world joined the conversation by live streaming?  Why do I look at workshop format as locked in stone?  As the flight attendant noted, maybe I need to shake things up a bit!

And if the “customer experience” was enhanced, would word of mouth spread that news around campus, growing demand?

Be interested in your thoughts.

{Stone Carving from Flaming Text}

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A Year in the Spiral

It is the last day of 2008, and as with many others, it is a time for reflection.

2008 was certainly a very different year from my 57 previous ones.  Even though I had worked with computers for years and had engaged in online learning for the past dozen years, in many ways I was a creature of the Web 1.0 era.  I did not grow up with interactivity – I grew up with Basic computer language and dial-up modems.  The computer was a tool that I used primarily offline, but I did go online to go places (my online class in Blackboard, Google, Mapquest, even Wikipedia).  In my developmental years, my web interactions were mostly one-way and teacher-oriented.  I remained in control of my journey and knew where I was headed.

With my colleagues at the Center for Teaching Excellence, Jeff Nugent and Bud Deihl, I had begun dabbling in Web 2.0 apps like Ning sites (Classroom 2.0 and College 2.0) and delicious in 2007, but I was still primarily a voyeur.  My colleague Jeff would prod me to try out different sites or check out different blogs, but I did so rather passively.  My “network” for the most part consisted of people I worked with and a couple of others.  At the start of the year, I was subscribing to about ten blogs and a variety of journal and news sites. It was not until January 13, 2008, that a blog post by Michele Martin grabbed me.

Over the course of a couple of days last January, Michele discussed her own growth online and illustrated this with her social media spiral shown above.  I saw myself in that spiral, and recognized that to grow, I needed to move higher up the spiral.  I had moved from isolated consumption to aggregation in 2007, but I was still of the mindset that few would be interested in anything I might have to say.  I really cannot say why, but Michele’s spiral was the tipping point for me that moved me to start my own blog.

Michele cheered me on during that first month, as did Sue Waters, a new “friend” whose advice and guidance helped be grow as a blogger.  My network began to grow as I entered the spiral of commenting and blogging.  By May 2008, I felt confident enough to join the 31-Day Blog Comment Challenge.  It was exhausting but illuminating, and it added new friends like Ken Allen to my network.  Along the way, I learned that my “personal” learning network was really a social one and not an individual one.  I was learning from the likes of Will Richardson, Michele Martin, Wes Fryer, Vicki Davis, Jeff Utecht and many, many more – and that learning was social.  These superstars were interacting and commenting on my comments and blog posts!

As I taught this fall, my frequency of blogging slowed.  Part of that is due to the time spent microblogging in Twitter with many of the same people I follow through their blogs.  Part of it was due to redesigning my online course – Instructional Uses of the Internet.  The redesign was driven in large part by my experience in the spiral.  2008 was the year I made the leap to social networking, and it was transformational.  I now view my life and my job through a different lens than I did a year ago, shaped by the global friendships I have made and continue to make.

Learning in a Flat World.  The name still fits.  This will be my 125th post this year.  There have been 310 comments, comments that helped me learn – and comments from all over the globe.  I am still humbled by the ClustrMap above.  My readership is worldwide with nearly 4,600 hits since I started tracking it last February.  More importantly, I have gotten to know some of the gifted people behind those red dots marking the globe.  I see them as mentors, colleagues, collaborators, and friends.  I see the world as a different place from the way I viewed it pre-2008.

Tom Friedman remarked that the world had gotten flat and closer due to the internet.  While I loved his book and had done several seminars on THE WORLD IS FLAT, I do not think that I really understood that until 2008.

To those who have journeyed with me this past year, my deepest thanks!  You have made me a better educator!

Just think what 2009 might bring!