Sunday, 30 June 2013

Diary of a Wimpy Blogger - Publish & be Damned!

This week my blog got to 10,000 page views, so I thought this would be a good time to reflect on yet another new social media experience for this digital immigrant.

By the way, if you are a digital immigrant does that mean you can get deported?

Blogging, Blagging or Bragging? 
Although, I have to admit, this milestone has ended up raising a few questions as much as anything...

1) Is 10,000 page views in 6 months a good result - I have had this blog since 2011 but rarely posted until Jan 2013.

2) Did all 10,000 people read the entire post? Some posts are quite long, but I know a number of people who did read them as they gave my ramblings some great feedback.

3) I have all the stats on the most viewed posts, how can I use these analytics to improve on future posts? For the record the most popular posts to date include;

4) How many page views and posts do you need before you get to call yourself a blogger? If you call yourself a blogger too soon does this make you a blogger blagger/blaggart?

Why Blog 
My reasons for starting the blog was because I wanted to express an opinion outside of a work context and my first post was well received... Although it resembled more of a mini novel than a blog post!

I didn't do a great deal with this blog until January this year. The reason? Twitter... Again!

Sarah Simons, the moderator of #ukfechat, included a blog section on the chat webpage and this encouraged a core group of FE Chat regulars to began exploring the topics discussed via their blogs.

What to Write About

If you open a new communication channel its important to use it. If you open a new channel up and find that you don't have time to update the content, it might be advisable to shut the channel down.

So account open. Time to think about what to blog about? ...And where to find the time on more social media?
The subject matter of my blog does tend to be aligned in some way with either a forthcoming FE Chat (Thu 9pm) or Ed Tech Chat (Mon 1am) topic or on a recently discussed theme. This is usually; 
  • To share the ideas and knowledge on the subject prior to the chat session to help facilitate the debate, or
  • If I blog about a topic after the session this helps me internalise the discussion and share any ideas once I have considered the various points from the discussion
  • To demonstrate to those who are not on Twitter the value of the social media channel
So one of the many advantages of being involved with EdChats on Twitter is that it helps provide plenty of material for Edu Bloggers.

Publish and be damned!
Being all too aware that what you put online can be "A digital tattoo" (ie permanent!) my first few posts probably took the best part of 2-3 days before I was happy to publish. Apart from the odd critical observation about useless or ill conceived government policy, I don't think I'm being in any way controversial.

Today producing new content for the blog only takes about 1-2 hours a week.

I think this is partly an issue of confidence and you do eventually get a mentality of "Publish and be damned." 

This is not to say that it is unplanned and I always try to consider whether the post will be relevant and useful to educators and their partners; and you will never see any corporate communications from me on any social media channel.

If I have written about a topical issue, with educators in mind and, hopefully, have included some new ideas or a different perspective then the post will get read and people may share it... If it's no so good or not too relevant then it won't get read, so no real harm done. 

Blogging or Bragging
As the perpetual "digital immigrant" I faced a new experience this week regarding my exploration with blogging.

This week there was the Festival of Education in the UK and the International Society for Technology in Education Conference (#iste13) in the US, and I found myself asking "Am I blogging or bragging here?"

The issue I had was that every other Tweet seemed to be along the lines of "Oh here's a link to one of my posts..."

Now the content of the post I highlighted did seem relevant to the discussion, and the posts had been well received by educators. 

But how do you know when you have crossed a line from sharing information... To becoming blatantly and shamelessly self promoting? 

I can only hope that I am blogging and Tweeting with the appropriate "Netiquette" and that I have enough critical friends in education who would have a quiet word in my ear... After all I don't pretend to be an expert with any of this social media stuff, but I do see the value in it and the impact that it can have. 

The Impact
So what has the impact of blogging been? It's been an extremely positive experience.

From a #ukfechat perspective there is a small but merry band of regular bloggers, many of whom are posting twice a week now, this includes;

Sarah Simons -     Tes Articles & curator of UK FE Chat  
Jayne Stigger -      FE Culture
Steven Keevil -      Teacher Learner
Carolyn Houlihan - I Can So I Will
Clare Fenwick -     Tech, Innovation & Learning
Nikki Gilbey -         FE Teaching Thoughts

Some of these bloggers have also submitted articles to TES and FE Week and, like the chat session itself, the number of regular FE bloggers looks set to grow.

It would also be great to hear about any other FE Bloggers, so please feel free to post a comment below with the details of your blog.

I think it is important that blogging does increase within FE as it is a useful form of CPD, it will also benefit students too. 

Content creation is becoming a key skill, but how can FE advise students on blogging if they are not doing it themselves?

And will this be an important skill in the future... It's difficult to see why it wouldn't be an advantage or to see how much content creation;
It also makes sense from an educators perspective too;
As for the impact blogging has had on me personally? I think a good example is when I was taking part in a US chat session and when people saw me join the discussion, they commented that they enjoyed reading my blog posts and reports... Which was so unexpected that I asked "Are you sure it was my blog?"

This was all the more of a surprise when I saw that one of the people was an education expert from a prestigious US Ivy League University.

So my advice would most definitely be "Publish and be Damned" whats the worst that could happen? 

One thing is for sure any educator will most certainly be in a better position than me to explore this medium - but I'm giving it a go and am getting a lot out of it - connecting, collaborating... and learning!

If you did want to experiment with blogging before opening and managing a blog you might be interested in;

1) Submiting posts to @MrsSarahSimons for publication at 

2) Contact Steven Keevil or Carolyn Houlihan who are encouraging people in FE to blog about their week 

3) I am sure that any of the FE bloggers would be happy to discuss their experiences of blogging with anyone interested in finding out more about this platform. 

4) There are also a host of US educators who I am sure would be delighted to offer assistance to any aspiring "Connected Educators." Edu blogsTeach 100 and Connected Principals have a list of popular blogs

If you already have an FE blog I'd be delighted to hear about it and subscribe to it.

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