Helping Non-Techies Understand Blogging

Leonard Low at Mobile Learning has a very interesting workshop idea for how to help people understand the concept of blogging separate from the technology. His “Paper Blogging” strikes me as a great way to introduce the concept to people who are hesitant (or downright afraid) of technology by focusing on sharing ideas rather than the technical aspects.

Low uses a bunch of Post-It notes and paper to simulate blog conversations. Everyone writes a “post” on a sticky note and summarizes it with “tags.” Posts are collected on a larger sheet of paper (symbolizing the blog). People then add comments (more sticky notes) to other people’s posts. You should read his entire post to get all the details, including how he demonstrates RSS.

There is lots of discussion in the edublogosphere and conferences about how to help teachers understand Read/Write Web technology. Recruiting the early adopters who enjoy and naturally gravitate towards new technology is one thing, and it’s an important part of what needs to be done. We need the leaders like Vicki Davis out in the front innovating and pushing the limits of what we can do to inspire others. However, we also need to have some ways like this to help everyone else see the value. To reach those who are more resistant, in education or elsewhere, I think a focus on what can be done with the technology will ultimately be more effective than focusing just on the technology.

I think Chris Lehmann, principal at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, summed it up remarkably well:

“We need to get away from the notion that computers are something we go use in a lab once a week. When was the last time we sent kids to a pencil lab?”

Image citation
good question from e-magic‘s photostream.

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7 thoughts on “Helping Non-Techies Understand Blogging

  1. I love Chris’ quote and use it often. Thanks for letting us know about these resource. I agree that we do need to give people concrete examples so that we have a “buy in” to the new technology. Great post.

    Thanks!

  2. It is my hope to write in such a way that beginners can understand it. It is about starting where you are as I did — simply with one tiny wiki page and a little blog. Then, move on from there.

    I love the quote from Chris too and have never heard it but it is a great one.

    There is also this princple of overflow that is happening here. I create these incredibly technologically proficient students and they go to other classes and beg to blog and wiki and then they do it. We now have an AP English blog and wiki — the students did it! The English teacher loves it. It takes a big load off of the teachers. (Also, if you link to my blog when you write my name, I can find you faster, I just found this mention on a whim.)

    Best of luck!

  3. Whoops! Sorry about that, Vicki. That was just an oversight; I’ve linked to you previously. I just forgot. I’ve fixed it now.

    I found the quote by going through Will Richardson’s del.icio.us links tagged as “quoteable.” Unfortunately, the original link he saved is gone, but I was able to find the quote again. I love social bookmarking!

    The overflow is a great point too. Your students are really serving as the leaders and drivers of using the technology. They have seen what they can do and are motivated by it, and obviously are applying it elsewhere. That is terrific.

  4. In a moment of full disclosure, I must admit that Gregg Bethiel, former technology coordinator at Martin Luther King HS in NYC, now VP of all sorts of stuff at the National Academy Foundation, is the original author of that quote. He has given me permission to use it, though.🙂

    The sad thing is that we both have been saying it for ten-plus years now, and we’re still trying to convince people of it. How long will our kids have to wait before we, as a nation, embrace fundamental change in our schools?

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