The Year of the Teacher Blog?

clip_image001Last month, I was quoted in the Irish Examiner saying that this would be the year of the teacher blog.  In the last year, I have noticed that there has been a steady increase in the number of teachers who have decided to blog about teaching and learning and I believe that there are going to be a lot more coming on stream in the next twelve months.  In this article, I’m going to explain why I think this is and give examples of teachers that are blogging.

Firstly, I think a major reason that teachers are starting to blog is quite simple.  We’re beginning to trust the Internet.  Back in 2008, I asked teachers whether they would use a blog.  Only 20% of teachers said they would even post anything on a blog.  By the time I surveyed teachers earlier this year, this figure had raised significantly.  Not only did teachers seem to trust blogs, 42% of respondents wrote blogs and used them in their school.

This leads me to a second reason.  With any new technology, it takes a while for people to know what to do with it.  I think it’s fair to say that we now know how to use a blog.  As far as I’m concerned, there’s three main types of blogs.

Personal Blog

This type of blog is generally all about a person and their interests.  Sometimes there’s a theme running through them and sometimes it’s an eclectic mix of the person’s interests.  Rozz and I both run personal blogs as well as a number of other teachers.  I generally leave Anseo.net to educational matters and my personal blog is about anything else.

Project Blogs / Short Term Blogs

An interesting type of blog is a blog that has a fixed start and end date.  For example, a school might investigate the weather patterns in their area for a month and blog about it everyday for that month.  Once this is done, the project is over and the blog ends.  There are a few examples of schools doing this in Ireland; one example was from St. Attracta’s SNS in Dublin about Christmas Carols across Europe.  This project has now ended and the blog is now a way to see how it went.

Niche Blogs

clip_image002Another type of blog is the niche blog.  It’s about something usually of interest to the person writing it.  There are thousands of niche blogs out there and educational blogs are one genre.  In fact, there are some services on the Internet dedicated to allowing teachers and students the opportunity to blog.  Two of note are Kidblog and Edublogs.  One example, from second level, is Donal O’Mahoney’s excellent blog, eLearning Island, which focuses on education issues.  It has also won a number of awards.  Another example from primary level is http://sdilleen.edublogs.org/which is a class blog.

Of course, teachers can also host their own blog or use one of many services such as WordPress or Blogspot.  Irish schools also have the option of having a web site hosted by Scoilnet.  There are loads of examples of these and many schools now have blogs as their web sites.   Scoilnet lists dozens of schools who use such blogs.

Perhaps, this is the reason why teachers might start blogging separately to their school.  Perhaps they want to have a place for their own class to blog about the things going on in their classroom.  Perhaps they want to give their own opinions about education or to share their own resources with other teachers.

There’s now a variety of ways to blog too.  Not only can teachers host their own blog, they can also use established services such as WordPress and Blogspot.  Here are a few (excluding this blog!) that are all about teaching and learning from different angles.

· http://msgilmartinsclassblog.blogspot.com/ – a class blog

· http://ransborons.scoilnet.ie/blog/?cat=254 – an example of a class blog hosted by Scoilnet

· http://balbrigganetns.wordpress.com/ – a principal’s blog

· http://sabinemckenna.wordpress.com/ – a teacher’s blog about her experiences in the classroom

· http://missmernagh.com/ – a primary school teacher’s blog – also featured in the Irish Examiner

· http://www.morestresslesssuccess.ie/ – a second level teacher’s own thoughts on education, often touching on all levels of the education system

However, there are a couple of other really easy ways to blog too.  Tumbl rand Posterous are two super services which make it really easy for teachers to blog quickly about anything that they are interested in.  One example of a teacher using Tumblr for blogging and reblogging thoughts on education is Nigel Lane.  I don’t know of any Irish primary teachers using Posterous but here are some examples from second level:

· http://mags.posterous.com/

· http://joedale.posterous.com/

With all these reasons, I think we’re going to see a number of new teachers blogging about their experiences in the classroom.  If you are an Irish primary teacher running a blog about education, why not add it to the comments below?

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