I am a novice edublogger, and as such am a bit reluctant to put myself out there for more seasoned bloggers to read my ideas. Perhaps it is because of a bit of apprehension of how I will be received (or not received). Once you post to an academic community outside the “safe harbour” of an educational institution, you need to be prepared to engage in “gladiatorial battle” with far more experienced voices in the arena of ideas.
Writing for an elite group of edubloggers takes a lot of skill – yet I am beginning to realize that edublogs have appeal for many learners. Not every edublogger who thrives as a personal blogger, or who blogs within a sharing cirle or sharing community, will be engaged and effective in the more formal learning community involving a wider, more experienced, audience. I would say that perhaps the opposite is true as well. Academics comfortable with rational discourse may not feel equally comfortable participating in sharing circles with a small group of co-learners, discussing feelings, half-formed ideas, impressions, and intuitions. Roles and expectations of participants differ. The type of postings required/expected for these blogging venues also differ, The skills and attitudes attendant to each of these blog spaces would differ.
The ideas I present here are sketchy, based loosely on preliminary observations from case studies on the use of edublogs, as well as my experiences within the me2u athabasca community. However, I intuit that there is a progression in the scope of blogging over time for learners, and that various skill sets need to be cultivated before:
1. personal writing space
This space is meant for the expression of ideas which is shared with an educator who acts as learning companion and mentor. None of these posts are available to the general public, but perhaps a few are sent off as email to trusted sources.
2. sharing circle
This edublog acts as a personal writing space, but also acts as a drafting space and sharing space. There are a limited number of other individuals who comment on the blog’s posts, as well as the instructor, offering encouragement and insights. It is this developing synergy that indigenous pedagogues refer to as reciprocity. There is some posting on others’ blogs within the sharing circle, as well as on blogs that are publicly accessible.
3. sharing community
There is an ever widening group of confidantes, of kindred spirits, of well-wishers who make suggestions on new directions for exploration. The edublogger invites others into the fold to participate, and encourages still others to come and visit. At some point, starting perhaps with the sharing circle, but definitely more apparent in the sharing community, the edublogger’s motivations shift, and intensify. Such learners now explore others’ blogs and comment on others’ ideas, thus encouraging greater participation and attracting more individuals (experts, mentors) to take part in the discussions.
4. learning community
Most learning communities do not have the characteristics of the personal learning spaces, sharing circles, or sharing communities.
They are recognized as a formal way of exchanging ideas. This is the open arena where ideas are debated, reputations are built, and credibility and academic stature at the national, even global, level is cultivated and defended.