Blogs, and Wikis, and Nings, and Things

This is liable to be a rambly post, and frankly, I’m not sure I like reading those myself, but sometimes they have to be written.

Those of you who are members of the UbD Educators wiki — are you interested in having a Ning, too?  It wouldn’t mean shutting down the wiki, but Nings seem to enable more different kinds of interaction, so I thought I’d float the question.  Jim Burke’s new Ning has become incredibly active and interesting, but he’s also Jim Burke.  Still, the success of Jim’s Ning made me wonder about UbD Educators.

Which leads me to something I have been mulling over for a while.  I think I’m stretched too thin.  I join too many online “clubs.”  And I probably just used unnecessary quotation marks.  I am currently a member of nine Nings (0nly about two or three of which I even look at, much less contribute to) and nine (or ten?) wikis, again most of which I don’t contribute to, or at least not regularly.  I have six (I think) blogs, and the one I update most is the one I do for my students.  This one comes in second, followed by my book blog.  My other blogs are fairly shamefully dormant.  When I look at the numbers, I freak out a little and feel bad.  I also wonder what to do about it, or whether what I’m currently doing is OK.

Long term career goal I’ve been thinking about for a couple of years: teacher education.  I think I want to work with English Education majors.  I’m not sure what I need to do to reach that goal, but the good news is that I am in touch with my own English Education professors, and I can ask them.  Meanwhile, if you do work with preservice English teachers, please share your advice or experiences.

I asked this question on Twitter, but got no response.  If I am a member of ISTE, is it still worthwhile to join AECT?  My ITMA program at VA Tech keeps talking about AECT, but all the tech folks in the Edublogosphere (should that be capitalized?) always mention ISTE.  Just wondering.

Finally, if you are headed to the Georgia Council of Teachers of English (GCTE) conference in February, I invite you to the session I’m presenting on Using Blogs and Wikis for Professional Development on Friday.  It’s the same session I presented at November’s GISA conference, so if you already came to that, you wouldn’t miss anything new if you skipped it.  Suggestions for the presentation are welcome.  If you were going to the session, what would you hope to learn or want to know?

OK, I have picked your brain enough today, Internet.

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6 thoughts on “Blogs, and Wikis, and Nings, and Things

  1. I'm intrigued with the possiblity of using Nings in the classroom and using them to encourage student discourse. Students are drawn to social networks/participatory environments online. One of the keys to using social networks is developing relationships, though. There has to be some common ground, some connection, for students to be able to effectively communicate–otherwise, it's just another class assignment. Adults who use these as professional networks seek them out. Students won't necessarily do that–or at least I don't know many students who would seek out a social network focusing on poetry or American literature just for the fun of it. What will they get out of it? I'm interested in how social networks can be utilized within the classroom and how they influence student writing. I hope our GCTE sessions aren't at the same time! Mine is focusing on using Web 2.0 technologies with students in the high school English classroom. See you at Jekyll!

    • Julie, I have some thoughts about using Nings, but the focus of my presentation will be specifically how teachers themselves can benefit from blogs and wikis. I think a lot of great presentations exist on using them in the classroom (yours perhaps?).

      Anyway, I tried a Ning with one class this semester, and my results were similar to what you describe. It was not natural — it was forced, and I had to make it a requirement to make them use it. I think they didn't see it as necessary when we had such great discussions in class. You're right — I don't think the kids would have sought out the network for their studies if I hadn't made them join it. I seek advice about how to use these tools with students effectively, especially Nings and blogs.

  2. Dana you have so hit on what has been troubling me in recent weeks. I really have become quites dazed and confused about just which way to leap to build a site that may well suit my role as a teacher and an english coordinator without heading down the road of creating a private site or creating too much work for myself in the process.

  3. Hi Dana: It has been a long time! Happy New Year. I was interested when you said you wanted to work with English education students. I have had some student teachers and most of them seem so unprepared that I would also like to work with college students wanting to be an English teacher. Keep me posted on what you find out.

    • I did have a discussion with one of my former English Ed. professors on Facebook of all things, and she suggested I might want to get the PhD rather than EdD. She said some folks look down on the EdD, though that's what she had, and with the PhD it's easier to teach at big research colleges. Sounds like it would give me more career options in terms of size of college. She said a PhD is accepted all places. She also suggested I write and publish as much as I can now. She said UGA and NYU have good programs for doctoral students. She also said National Board Certification and National Writing Project look good, too. She cautioned that it's a lot of work — I'll have to want to read and write my heart out were her exact words.

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