My Blog Story

This post is my first post of the weekly #EDUBLOGSCLUB, which you may sign up for by clicking here.  Here’s how it works: After you sign up, you receive an email each Tuesday with a new blog prompt. Write a post in response to that prompt, share it on social media with #EDUBLOGSCLUB, leave a comment on the club blog with a link to your post. In the process, gain knowledge of the blogging process, increase your confidence, learn from peers, and develop your PLN! How can you say no to that? 

Birth of a Blogger

2017 marks the 10-year anniversary of my blogging adventure. Interestingly, I started my blog at an educational technology conference while attending a session led by two teachers. They discussed how blogging can be used to increase communications between students and parents. At the time, I was teaching art history full-time at a community college (both face-to-face and online).  I was intrigued by the concept of blogging, but also nervous. By the end of the workshop, I had set up my blog using Blogger (last year, I moved to WordPress but you can view my original blog here). I started with the intent to use my blog as a communication tool with my students. My plan was to blog about my experiences viewing art in local community and beyond, in hopes of encouraging more students to engage with art.

As I started blogging, however, I found myself exploring many different facets of my thoughts that moved beyond the topic of art and into my shifting academic identity. Before long, my intended audience changed from students to the educational technology community. I began exploring questions about technology and teaching, most explicitly relating to my experiences teaching online. Two years after I started blogging, I resigned from my tenured faculty role and, well, began a long, difficult and wonderful journey to figure out who I was and where my views and talents would be valued and make a difference.

My Blog’s Professional Impact

My blog has opened many opportunities for me, which fall into one of the following categories:

  1. Personal Learning Network. Regularly, I meet people at conferences who approach me with a kind gesture of thanks, as they reference something they learned from me. I love those moments. Not long after I started blogging, I became active on Twitter. Twitter has fueled my connections with educators and provided me with a simple way to share my blog posts with others. The interactions I have with educators, both in person and virtually, make me feel valued and help me to understand why blogging and being active on Twitter are important professional activities for educators both in K12 and higher education.
  2. Publishing. In 2011, I was contacted by Susan Ko and invited to author a book for her Routledge “Best Practices” series. I accepted that offer and the second edition of my book is slated to publish in May 2017.
  3. Speaking. Over the years, I’ve been invited to speak at colleges and universities about teaching and learning innovations.  From my inquiries, I’ve learned that most of these invitations emerged from an event organizer doing a web search for key words — which led them to my blog.

My Blog’s Personal Impact

Like most people, blogging makes me uncomfortable. And, to be honest, that’s one reason I do it. Humans, especially academics, don’t like to step into experiences that make us feel vulnerable. But, as I look back at my life, I know that embracing vulnerability has provided me with knowledge about who I am, what’s important to me, and where I belong.

From a technical perspective, becoming a blogger is easy. From a social and emotional perspective, becoming a blogger is difficult. Convincing ourselves that what we have to say matters and is worthy of being considered can be difficult, especially if our identity intersects with one or more marginalized identities.  In the past, I’ve spent hours writing passionate posts and then felt that overwhelming sense of fear, anxiety, and “not good enough” as my cursor moved closer to the blue “publish” button. Can you relate?

I have made mistakes. And I’ve learned from them. But I’m still here. I’m still blogging. And I’m still learning. And that is something I hope all educators strive to model for students.

Blogging has helped me define myself and has encouraged me to believe my voice matters.

20 Comments

  1. Hi Michelle

    Thanks for sharing your blogging story! It is also my 10th blogging anniversary this year!

    Intrigued to read that blogging makes you feel uncomfortable. It definitely can be an issue and a barrier for reasons why someone chooses not to blog. Another is the sense that others have already said it so why share. I’ve always taken the view point that if I don’t know something that others will be like me and won’t know so would be grateful if I shared.

    I’ve also had emails from educators concerned that their writing wouldn’t be perfect. i.e. they’ve asked me if I worry that sometime I get my grammar and words wrong. My response ‘I’ve always struggled with language. It’s not perfect — and continues to be a work in progress but blogging helped me become a better writer.”

    I’ve found when we’ve done activities that involved commenting that some prolific bloggers feel more uncomfortable with the process of commenting than blogging. Which is a shame because commenting is an important part of the blogging process.

    Sue Waters
    @suewaters

    Reply
    1. Sue, thanks for your thoughtful comment. So, as you can see, it has taken me a week to reply. This process is making me very aware of how little back-and-forth exchanges I receive on my blog. I’ve been seeing notifications come in via email and I had assumed they were comments on the Edublogger post I commented on. I am sure some were, but, honestly, I didn’t even know these comments were here. I agree, comments make blogging more social.

      I’m very interested in exploring the vulnerability many people experience with participating with social technologies. It’s fascinating to me to reflect on how much academics are trained to avoid vulnerability.

      cheers,
      Michelle

      Reply
  2. I can relate. Sometimes you don’t know the impact you have on others. Though I find it easy to blog when I have a topic I can get behind. Regardless of who reads it or whether they feel my voice has value, I know that someone, maybe even me, will one day find value in the post.

    Reply
  3. N

    It’s really interesting that I started my current blog when I was an art history student (hoping to become an art history teacher) and my interests were around the accessibility of art. But I got bitten by the edtech bug too. I often wonder where this will take me.

    Reply
  4. Michelle –
    I love your perspective on the personal and professional impact of blogging! additional comments left here help me to see that the most important part of this journey is likely to be my own growth! I look forward to reading more of your posts in the near future.

    Reply

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