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Friday, March 28, 2008

School board
March 28, 2008
Q & A: Will Richardson, author, speaker, blogger
Will Richardson is certainly among the top thinkers, authors, and speakers about blogging in any context, but likely heads the lists of experts on blogging in the K-12 classroom. His book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms offers plenty of insight for any blogger. [Check out some video of Will speaking here.]

Richardson left teaching/administrating two years ago and is now speaking, writing, consulting, and blogging full time. Most recently, he co-founded Powerful Learning Practice with Sheryl Nussbaum Beach, "through which we offer long-term, job-embedded professional development for teachers and administrators to help them understand and use Web 2.0 tools in their own learning practice," Richardson said.

What is the brief history of your blog? Also: Why do you blog? I started blogging about seven years ago and quickly began to focus my writing on how these technologies change teaching and learning. According to, the leading blog ranking service on the Web, mine is the number one educational technology related blog in the world, which is pretty amazing considering its very humble beginnings as the ramblings of a classroom teacher trying to make sense of these changes. I blog because it's a great way for me to learn, not just by reflecting on what I read and what I experience but by interacting with readers from around the world.

What has blogging taught you? How has it connected you to anybody or anything? Blogging is the foundation of my network which is the foundation of my learning these days. It has connected me to thousands of other people from around the world who are passionate about these ideas as well. It's taught me a great deal about the power of publishing and the importance of being able to connect to people and ideas anytime and anywhere I have a connection.

Should public officials blog? If so, what should be their goals in doing so? Can you provide some tips for them to accomplish those goals as they blog? I think public officials should blog because it's a way of keeping the citizenry more informed (at least those who choose to take advantage of it.) Both the Obama and Clinton campaigns have plans to implement blogs and other Web 2.0 technologies into their administrations should they win. In general, the goal should be to simply be more transparent about how things are decided, to invite participation and feedback, and to archive the process of government. I think it requires honesty and consistency to be a successful blogger, and an understanding of how we all can learn more widely and more deeply by connecting to others in these ways.

Should those in K-12 leadership blog? School board members, school district superintendents? Ideally, yes, for many of the same reasons above, but most of all to model for students the potentials of learning in a networked world. Students are using these tools widely, but right now, they have few if any role models for their use. We shouldn't be surprised that many of them struggle. We are all changed by these potentials, and the more we can understand them for ourselves the more we can contextualize them for our students.

How do people overcome whatever fear they may have, to start a blog and jump out there? I think they have to identify their own passions and then learn how to connect to others who share those passions as well. These tools are all about learning, and I think that if you can begin to use them in the context of whatever drives them, it's easier to take those first participatory steps. But the bottom line for me, at least, is that as educators, we have a responsibility to take part and to make these tools a part of our own practice.

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