Modern-day Cassandras?

I’m enjoying blogging. It allows me to connect with others, get ideas out that are bouncing around inside my head, and get some positive affirmation that the ideas that I hold are held by others too.

Just like some people watch the Amazon ranking of their published book or the Digg ranking of their online article / post, I’ve been watching my Technorati rating slowly climb since I started blogging six weeks ago. It looks like I’m about to break into the top 100,000, which doesn’t sound too exciting until you realize that a brand new blog starts with a rank of 1 million something. Here is my Technorati ranking compared to some other, more well-known K-12 ed tech blogs (statistics as of Sep. 30):

Although I’m making progress, I obviously have a long way to go before I catch up to some of my blogging colleagues!

The reason I’m discussing all of this is because I ran across a quote in The Big Moo that got me thinking:

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All of this online buzz and hoopla by and between us bloggers is wonderful. I learn a ton from my blogging colleagues and I have seen the way I think about some topics shift dramatically as I read and interact with others. I wonder, though, how much difference we’re actually making with our intended audience of K-12 educators. Are most teachers and administrators reading even the most popular ed tech bloggers such as Will, David, Vicki, and Wesley? Probably not. Although Technorati only shows links from blogs, not the number of page views, I’m guessing that collectively we ed tech bloggers still are reaching only a tiny fraction of teachers and administrators. If there are 90,000 public schools in this country, that’s a lot of educators.

I think it’s important that we bloggers remember to go beyond providing thought leadership, witty critiques, and insightful commentary and actually provide something tangible now and then that our readers can take back to their school organizations. Whether it’s something small like my Why Blog as an Administrator? packet or something bigger like School Data Tutorials or Class Blogmeister, the more we give our readers concrete resources that they can use with other staff, the more we further our cause of effectuating change. I don’t think that merely posting about various topics is enough.

We don’t have to create new tools, necessarily, although of course those are always needed. I think my Why Blog as an Administrator? packet and my list of Digital kids. Analog Schools. quotes show that repackaged blog content can have a lot of value to others. I encourage anyone and everyone who’s reading this blog to think about how your own content, whether it’s short pieces that you’ve written or blog posts or whatever, can be packaged and disseminated to effectively reach teachers and/or administrators. Because we’re primarily working through our readers (unless we present at a workshop or conference), when we do this we need to be cognizant that our material should be packaged so that it can be used by others. If we do this right, we become secondary change agents, working through those educators who like our stuff and want to use it to make a difference in their organizations. Between us there is a lot of good stuff out there – we need to somehow make it more available and more public.

As Godin notes in Small is the New Big:

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We can’t be worried about bragging. If we have something worth sharing, we need to get it out there in formats that educators can use. I don’t share my data-driven decision-making white papers and my administrator blogging packet because I think they’re the best thing since sliced bread. I share them because they’re a resource that some educators have found valuable. Since this is the case, the more broadly they’re disseminated and publicized, the more likely that others will find them, and find them valuable, too. Let’s work on ways to get our content and tools and commentary into the hands of the educators who really need them, the folks who still aren’t sold on the value of technology.

Let’s also try and remember to highlight specific examples of changes that we’re enabling. If something successful happens because of our work, either directly or indirectly, let’s be sure to make those examples as public as possible. Most of us can probably identify several examples of successful change that we have facilitated but that few folks know about. Get the word out. Again, it’s not about bragging but about providing concrete examples that others can tap into.

Few of us want to be modern-day Cassandras, railing at the ignorance and intransigence of educators and policymakers. I think that most of us feel that we have something worth saying, and information and resources worth sharing. One of our critical tasks is to extend our reach beyond our small community of bloggers and blog readers and find ways to reach the rest of the K-12 world. We can only reach so many people through our blogs, workshops, and conferences. We need to tap into the larger pool of educational technology advocates and feed them resources they can use to move things forward.

9 Responses to “Modern-day Cassandras?”

  1. Hi Scott,

    I always thought it was the quality rather than quantity of readers that counted ;-)

    Doug

  2. Timely post, Scott. Administrators welcome tools and partnerships from tech people. Actually, we are desperate for them as we have few resources that are easy for us to get our hands on. Quick story: about a year ago, I was excited about a new classroom observation tool idea using my pda but I needed to learn how to use Access and Pen Dragon. For the life of me, I couldn’t find anyone to help me learn those two programs so I had to move on and deal with things that I could actually handle. That might sound crazy but it is reality. I have passed along the resources you mentioned in your blog to our district principals and administrators. My principal buddy, Dr. Jan, and I are doing our best to help our fellow administrators. Here is an article we had published (we also hope to present on this at the NAESP National Convention in 2007): http://www.naesp.org/ContentLoad.do?contentId=2025

  3. You’ve got a great blog here. Thanks for the post. I had no idea that The Thinking Stick was that popular. Technorati was blocked here in China last year. Last I remember, my blog was around 70,000.

  4. I was feeling good about myself this morning and now I realize that my blog is 700,000th.

    Thanks alot.

    :-)

    Jim :-)

  5. Content is the key for me. I enjoy blogging and started blogging as way for me to explain how why I think the way that I do, for my children. I use the topic of homeschool and education in general to make my comments. It’s attracted a fair bit of attention from the general blogging community, both homeschoolers and public educators. I just checked and I’m ranked
    2,941 with 3,695 links from 620 blogs. I guess on your list that would put me just under the leader. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care about rankings but I wouldn’t change how I blogged if I went down in the ranks. I use my blog to clarify my thoughts and ideas. The fact that others have found it helpful is a bonus.

  6. I’m in agreement on both points. Content is king (or queen!) and, now that I’ve been doing it for a while, I’d probably blog even if not many folks were reading…

  7. Don’t forget there are education blogs outside the US as well! Try Leigh Blackall’s Teach And Learn Online Rank:37,401 (176 links from 73 blogs) as an Aussie expat living in NZ, Jo McLeay from Melbourne Rank:39,908 (278 links from 70 blogs) plus heaps more from this part of the world.

  8. It does seem like preaching to the converted sometimes…

    My blog (teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk), at 44,240 (221 links from 58 blogs) apparently makes it slightly less popular than the Learning Circuits blog. Not that I blog for fame and glory. I’d be a bit stupid if I were in it for that… ;-)

  9. Holly Kragthorpe-Shirley Reply July 2, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    I am a teacher and a student. I don’t have my own blog, and I can count on one hand the hours I have spent reading blogs.

    I just wanted to say that I am glad to have found this cool community. When I am here I will hold you to your anti-Cassandra practices.
    :)

    Thanks for making this a place where newbies can learn!

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