Patrick Higgins raises the question of readiness in a post earlier today: What, he wonders, will be the tipping point that moves teachers and administrators toward a collaborative, communicative, networked professional development approach that includes blogging? Miguel Guhlin calls it a personal learning network. Patrick asks:

What pressure do educators/administrators feel to move away from
traditional methods towards blogging as professional practice? It’s the
whole horse and water thing here. We have to find something to make our
staff not want, but need to buy into this.

Right. . . you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him think. But if you can get him blogging, the thinking just might follow.

I appreciate Patrick’s use of the word "practice" here in something like the Zen sense—connoting engagement, mindfulness, and attention rather than striving toward an extrinsic proficiency goal. Looking for an example of a blogger modeling mindfulness? Look no further than this meditation from Chris Hunewell:

Usually I post late in the evening, just before the end of my day.
Throughout the day, I think about an idea, a notion, the content of the
day’s post. I find myself composing phrases at odd times. If I come up
with something I really like, I often make a note to myself. I even
started a running list of ideas about which to post – old stories and
memories, things that are on my mind, that sort of thing. When I
finally do sit down to blog, I have my dictionary application open so I
can check spelling and reference the thesaurus. I compose the day’s
post, then I reread and revise. Mull over my choices of words. Vary my
sentence structure. Make sure the paragraph flows. Try to be concise
but clear. I work hard on the ending trying for a big finish. When I
think I’ve got it right, I publish – and then shut down for the night.
But in the morning with coffee, after I’ve caught up on the news, after
I’ve checked email and the weather, I read the post again. If it needs
tweaking, I do it then. I find it helps in the revision process to have
that little bit of distance from the original writing session.

 

What will be persuasive enough to move the horse to mindful action? I think we can all agree that carrots generally better results than sticks, at least when it comes to educators. There’s justifiable urgency in Patrick’s tone as he writes about making the case for "need," not "want." Lo and behold, here comes Steve Hargadon and Infinite Thinking Machine with this carrot.

Will Richardson has written:"I’ve
learned more in my four-plus years as a blogger than I have in all my
years of formal education." He’s not talking about blogging as a
teaching tool–he’s talking about blogging as a personal and
professional development tool. And he’s saying that it’s been a better
learning tool than all his formal schooling. How could that be?

It’s because, for Will and many others of us, to blog is to be engaged in really meaningful conversations about education.  Indeed, the tools of Web 2.0 (or the "read/write Web") often trigger a personal learning renaissance.  I now engage daily with great thinkers as I use the tools of Web 2.0 to read, to listen, to interview, and then to blog myself.

But
let’s face the reality of talking about the value of blogging to
educators. It’s not easy. Most educators are far too busy to squeeze in
another hour (or more) to each workday to 1) learn how set up a blog,
2) start writing in it, 3) comment on others blogs, 4) learn how to
track the conversations that take place where they comment, and then 5)
"speak to the empty room" for six months before their audience builds
up. So, is there an easier way to experience the value of blogging and
the read/write web? The answer is yes, and it’s coming from somewhere I
never expected it to: a social networking site.

The social networking site in question is Ning. Steve has created a Ning network called Classroom 2.0. The welcome mat is out for any and all who are interested in giving Ning a fling. Steve describes Ning’s interface as a friendly way to test—and maybe even drink from—the Web 2.0 waters. Whether this particular carrot gets the horse in motion remains to be
seen. But it’s a hearteningly tasty little vegetable, isn’t it? 

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