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learning.now: at the crossroads of Internet culture & education with host Andy Carvin

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August232007

What Other Blogs Do You Read?

There are a lot of great education blogs out there, many of which I’ve talked about from time to time. But the blogosphere is a really big place, with numerous blogs that may not be seen as educationally focused, but are still powerful resources for educators interested in Web 2.0 culture. Here are some sites that are must-reads for me. What about you?

First, let’s talk technology blogs. There are more technology blogs on the Internet than probably any other topic, and I would suspect that most of them wouldn’t have much value to you unless you’re really geeky about a specific technology topic. So I’ve decided to limit my examples to technology blogs that generally cover two broad areas: interesting Web 2.0 tools that are coming down the pike, and blogs that talk about Internet trends. These areas aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, but they both help paint a picture at where the rest of the Web 2.0 universe is going, beyond the classroom walls. Most of the time you won’t see them talking about these tools in an educational context, but they’re often the first sites to mention certain technologies that educators will soon be talking about - or arguing about - on their own blogs.

For example, there are the blogs Mashable.com and Ars Technica. Mashable is all about social networks, particularly new social networks you’ve probably never heard of. One thing that’s particularly useful about Mashable is their invites section, where you can request invites to new social networks that are still in development. In contrast, Ars Technica offers analysis on technology trends, from Internet security to telecommunications policy. It offers a solid overview of what’s going on across the technology sector.

Another popular site for tracking bleeding-edge activities on the Internet is TechCrunch. TechCrunch’s bread-and-butter is profiling dot-com companies rolling out innovative social media services. Typically each blog post focuses on an individual company or online tool, but they also do excellent overviews of who’s doing what in a particular space, such as the leading user-generated video tools or do-it-yourself social networking sites. If your someone who likes to experiment with new types of Web 2.0 tools and brainstorm how they might be used in an educational context, TechCrunch is a great resource.

There’s one other technology site I want to mention, and it’s different in the sense that it focuses on only one product. It’s OLPC News. If OLPC doesn’t ring a bell, it stands for One Laptop Per Child - aka the MIT $100 laptop initiative. Founded by globetrotting technology advocate Wayan Vota, OLPC News isn’t officially associated with the laptop program, and often examines it from a skeptical perspective. Wayan has worked all over the world setting up technology initiatives, so he’s got a strong sense of what works and what doesn’t, so the blog serves as a powerful vehicle for debating the potential impact of OLPC, including its potential strengths and limitations.

Meanwhile, there are blogs that offer analysis of how social media tools are being used - by the media, by communities and by everyday people. One site that will probably be new to you is The Bivings Report. This site is a group blog that examines the impact of Web 2.0 on media and politics, from the so-called YouTube debates to best practices for running an online community. If you prefer blogs that are published by a single person, you should check out my virtual neighbor here at PBS, Mark Glaser, who runs the PBS MediaShift blog. Mark presents readers with thoughtful, in-depth analysis on the evolving digital media landscape, balanced with useful top five lists linking to relevant news stories from across the Web.

Lastly, let’s not forget that there are numerous independent, personal blogs that offer excellent insight and analysis. On several occasions I’ve mentioned the work of MIT professor Henry Jenkins, whose speaks more eloquently about media literacy than almost anyone I’ve ever encountered. His personal blog, henryjenkins.org, also covers topics like gaming, fan culture and technology convergence. It’s always an informative read. And over on the west coast, there’s Danah Boyd, regarded by many as the leading thinker on youth culture when it comes to social networks. She recently made news when she posited the idea of a digital divide between social networks, in which she argued that MySpace was dominated by young people from disadvantaged groups, while Facebook attracted a more privileged crowd.

Additionally, bloggers involved with nonprofits and NGOs often face challenges similar to educators. One blog I follow regularly is Beth’s Blog, by nonprofit technology activist Beth Kanter. She’s always on the cutting edge when it comes to exploring the role of Web 2.0 tools in community-based organizations, particularly in contexts when resources and infrastructure are limited. Complementing Beth’s Blog is The Click Heard Round the World, by Rik Panganiban. He describes his blog as a “semi-coherent mash-up” covering topics like virtual worlds (think Second Life) and Web 2.0, and their use across civil society. Don’t mind the fact that he occasionally posts messages about his cat or his obsession with swing dancing; it all makes for a very enjoyable and informative read.

What about you? Are there any blogs you read that don’t necessarily cater to educators yet might be useful to them? Post them here and let us know why you read them. -andy

Filed under : Blogging

Responses

I subscribe to two “lifestyle” blogs, lifehack.org, and zenhabits.net.

Their tips on organization and healthful living frequently have educational applications.

I read a lot education stuff that I’m sure others read, such as, stephen downes. There’s lots to be learned as well from the following sites: worldchanging, treehugger, teaching hacks, maud newton and two blogs with great titles:
everything is miscellaneous and blog of proximal development

Google these leads to get the actual links.

I posted my list here.

Interesting list, and can’t say I’m surprised, since you and I disagree on 99% of the known universe :-).

I don’t think I’d ever recommend slashdot for classroom use, given how crass it can be. I personally love BoingBoing, but I don’t feel like I learn about new tools that way, which is why I included sites like Ars Technica and Techcrunch. (Also, the BB bloggers sometimes talk like sailors, and so it may not be accessible at schools with potty-mouth filters in place.)

My list was intended for those educators who are looking to experiment and try new things. Yes, a couple of the links are commercially oriented, but that doesn’t change the fact that they often the first to talk about new and interesting social media tools before lots of other sites do.

Regarding Stephen Downes and the constructivist blogs you mention, I didn’t include them simply because I didn’t do this particular as an edublogger list. Stephen’s is one of my favorite blogs, though; I’m planning to do another post focusing on edubloggers, and don’t be surprised if he’s on it.

This blog has certainly educational use for art teachers http://www.artjunction.org/blog/

Andy,

Thank you so much for your kind words. I am just back, literally, from Cambodia, where I had the honor to do a web2.0 workshop.

The Internet is much slower there than what I enjoy at home, so it was a little humbling to think creatively here. All in all, Cambodia’s young people are amazing - they very interested in Web2.0 and caught on very fast.

Here’s the curriculum
http://cloggersummit.wikispaces.com/Web+2.0+Ideas+and+Tools

Andy,
I would like to know if you know of any blogs that discuss how to use technology as a tool with primary grades. I am a Kindergarten teacher and would like to get some great ideas.
Thank you
Tannia

Hi Andy,

Can you please give your choice of the instructional blogs meant for/by technology / computer science teachers ?

thank you

indu

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