Yesterday, I exchanged a few e-mails with a former student of mine who just graduated college, and I was surprised and happy that he’d taken up blogging. He’s turned out to be a very good writer, and just the few minutes I spent reading his latest posts gave me this kind of weird pride-like feeling, like I may have had a little bit to do with some of that. Nice.

But the interesting thing is that he mentioned that he doesn’t see how blogs are much of an improvement over discussion boards. I’ve been reading and reflecting a lot on the conversation from a couple of days ago, and some of the outcomes from my workshop this week, and I have to say I think the difference is obvious: transparency. When I post to my blog, it not only has a chance to be read by a billion people, it also lives on in the Google-able and Technorati-able world of content. It also gets linked to by other people having other conversations. And it also creates a real sense of ownership of the ideas and the membership in the community.

That conversation about changing the culture was just powerful, I think. Twenty links and trackbacks to date, each one making me consider and reconsider my own position (except of course the one trackback in a foreign language…) Tom’s street metaphor made sense, and David’s Audioblog suggestion gave me ideas, and Alex’s reflection on his Cyberporn class added a great deal of context. And just about every comment seeded some more thinking.

And Kim! Holy cow! Kim started blogging at my workshop just four days ago and put up an amazing post about this topic.

Let me get this straight. I spent three days learning about wikis, blogs, RSS feeds, and various websites that I found totally intriguing and NEW. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve been blown away by a new idea. Now I’ll admit, I usually don’t have time for those who will tell me why something won’t work. And there are plenty of people happy to see every change and new idea from that perspective. I’ve learned to at least listen to them, because they often help me to avoid some problems. But I’m not listening now. That’s right, I’m looking this whole fear issue, call it cautiousness if you like, and staring it down. Because that’s what it is when schools filter everything and avoid, it’s fear of the unknown, it’s ignorance, and it’s cowardice.

And that’s just the first paragraph. This is a high school principal speaking out, stepping out, the kind of voice this community might want to nurture and develop.

This is blogging at it’s best, I think, and what makes it so much more powerful than discussion groups. It’s network creation, connective reading and writing, conversation that anyone can engage with. I know I sound dreamy about it…so sue me. It’s what started me down this road over five years and over 2,500 posts ago. And it’s still the most powerful learning I do.

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