The Blog as a Professional Development Resource
Professional development is a perpetual, ongoing task in the career of a teacher. Staying in league with technology, finding ways to incorporate blogging into the lesson plan and course delivery requires a core competency with blogging tools.
A personal development plan assists in creating self-directed independent learners who are more likely to progress to higher levels of academic attainment. It makes total sense those teachers as facilitators should have a personal development plan underway in order to better identify with and to help motivate students in the networked journey through education.
A fundamental way to improve an individual’s professional practice is to engage in shared inquiry and learning with people who have a common goal. This is called a community of practice. Communities of practice foster camaraderie and increase the sharing of lessons learned and best practices for educators.
Credibility of Blogs
The number of blogs has grown extensively on the Internet. According to its 2007 State of the Live Web, Technorati.com identified more than 70 million blogs and estimated that 120,000 blogs a day are created daily in the Blogosphere. (Sifry, 2006). With more than 70 million blogs, the quality of content is bound to be varied. In the case of blogs, which are primarily used for informal learning, the readers establish their own objectives (quality of content) and they will primarily focus on the usefulness of the information and its credibility.
Credibility is a quality attributed to information that is considered believable or trustworthy and can vary in degree. The authority and reputation of the source of information will influence the degree of credibility of information. Authors of blogs have become a source of authority, whose goal it is to achieve “opinion leadership” in the intended community of practice where they are an active member. Thought leadership is a direct result of the authority of the content. A noteworthy goal for a professional blogger is to aspire to the role of a subject matter authority in the sea of subject matter experts.
Credibility is an issue widely raised in the field of journalism and it is a shared concern in the minds of bloggers in the field of training and development. Kristina Schneider based her Master’s thesis on the qualitative study of training and development bloggers. The edublogging and distance education course project will leverage that study and use its findings to further shape opinion and thought on the credibility and importance of edublogging. (2009)
Significance of Study
The body of literature on blogs and blogging has been mainly focused on journalistic and pedagogical uses of blogs. The research Kristina Schneider conducted for her study is based on the perspective of the blogger within the scope of the professional community.
The study explores the process bloggers go through when deciding what to blog, when and why they blog, as well as their relationship with their readership.(2009) The study fortifies the premise of the networked teacher’s necessity to develop and maintain a personal learning environment where the blog and edublogging become the next generation learning ecosystem.
The perspective of the publisher, rather than that of the audience for the blog were chosen for this study. The study sought to understand the phenomenon of blogging for the purpose of providing training and development professionals with professional development opportunities. The qualitative research method was utilized with a phenomenological approach. A phenomenological approach describes “the meaning of the lived experiences for several individuals about the concept or phenomenon. A phenomenologist explores the structure of consciousness in human experiences.” (Polkinghorne, quoted to Creswell 1998, p. 15)
The phenomenon that was studied was the use of blogs for professional development. An increasing number of learning professional as well as training and development authorities have a blog that complements and, at times, is the centerpiece of their publications and organizations.
Criteria for Selecting Participants
A table was created to lay out the criteria in an orderly and structured fashion. These criteria helped with the determination and selection of the blogger study participants. (2009)
Criteria (Importance order)
Blogger available for interview
Educational technology blogger
Blogger solely focused on expertise area
3 pts: Highly focused
2pts: Moderately focused
Posts are made regularly and with rigor
Higher # posts = higher ranking
3 pts: 3+ posts a week
2pts: 1-2 posts a week
1 pt: 1 post a week
Blog exhibits large readership (based on number of comments)
Higher # comments = higher ranking
3 pts: 5+ comments per post
2pts: 2-4 comments per post
1 pt: 1-2 comments per post
Posts = assurance of authority of subject
Table 1: Criteria for Selecting Participants
Participant Selection and Blogs to Analyze
The specific blogs and bloggers were selected based upon how representative as possible they were of the range of blogs available for training and development. Using the criteria in the table mentioned above five bloggers of note were selected and agreed to participate in the study. The table on the next page exhibits two of the five participants as a sampling of who was selected and how they met the selection criteria for the study.