Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Using Blogs as a Professional Discussion

Before Web 2.0 technology became so pervasive, subject matter experts and discipline leaders would be most likely be identified by the books they publish which would lead to invitations to appear, or write in the popular press. Invitations to speak at conferences would also stem from book and academic journal publications.

Before Web 2.0, the intellectual property (IP) of subject matter experts (SMEs) was controlled by publishers and the organisation for whom they worked. Unfortunately, this arrangement mostly suits the publishers and employers, and not the person who developed the IP.

The Internet and Web 2.0 technologies have changed all of that, and SMEs now have the ability to share their IP and to have rapid access to other IP using predominantly Blog technology. RSS feeds and aggregators now mean that you can monitor each others postings and use what you learn to make up your own "Mashups".

Soon there will come a time when this free exchange of ideas and knowledge will circumvent and supersede publishers and employers. The advent of Creative Commons now means that we can maintain the ownership of our IP, but also share it with others who have similar interests and research areas.

The potential this type of exchange creates is significant as it now shortens the time for new innovations to be disseminated and adapted by others. The implications are no less dramatic in education. The often closed nature of compulsory and tertiary learning means that there is often very little interaction between teachers who are innovators and their colleagues. We, unfortunately often make the same mistakes as those our colleagues have made and learned from. We also are not good at being able to share our successes with a global audience.
Web 2.0 Blogs and WIKIs now make all of this possible instantly and publicly. We can learn on a daily basis from what others have done and adapt the effective approaches to our own pedagogical approach.

So the story is:
  1. Seek out the Blogs of other teachers/academics within your profession and do this with a Google search.
  2. Subscribe to their RSS feeds with an aggregator like Bloglines.
  3. Share your Blog URL with your colleagues and encourage them to start their own Blog.
  4. Publish your experiences, new knowledge and thoughts regularly.
Building a community of practice is an essential part of 21st Century professionalism and ensures that you are not left behind. Lifelong learning is a necessity and a reality and the sooner you join the Tsunami the easier it will be to come up to speed in your professional life.



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