OK, I got a little passionate tonight, and thought I'd better share it. Here's my response to yet another post by a prominent edublogger questioning the value of our Classroom 2.0 network...

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This line of thinking continues to mystify me.

I spoke to a group of 200 educators on Saturday about web 2.0, and four of them raised their hands when I asked how many were blogging. The early adopters seem to forget 1) that the great bulk of educators aren't like them and aren't going to be so proactive to go out and do all the things you have done to get where you are, and 2) that most educators don't have the time to do all of that. So, if you really want them involved in the energizing effects of Web 2.0, it doesn't make sense to play the "when I started blogging I had to walk 2 miles each way uphill in the snow" game.

There's a reason that MySpace gets 375,000 sign-ups A DAY: it taps into the ability to get yourself up there and get attention and feedback quickly. It doesn't mean that you are stuck there. It doesn't mean that you can't start your own external blog someday. It's not a prison.

Please come to Classroom 2.0 and stay long enough to do more than just leave your URL and try to drive traffic to your blog, Miguel. I felt like that showed a real lack of respect to those who are there. Listen in on some of the conversations of educators who have NEVER EVER done anything like this and who have been AFRAID to put themselves out they, are now they reading and writing and are so excited by how they are feeling.

That the edublogger "old guard" has been publicly disdaining (too strong a word?) of the Ning network is a mystery to me. I have to imagine that those prominent bloggers who have audience and keep questioning the value of Ning, but not really exploring it and especially not even getting involved in the dialog, are actually making it harder for the thousands of non-blogging educators who read them to feel comfortable taking a baby step by going to Classroom 2.0.

The edubloggers keep saying that they wish there was a way that the edublogosphere wasn't such an echo chamber, with just a few edubloggers being read. I hate to say it, but it makes me wonder if the flat nature of the social network, which really doesn't seem to devolve into a hierarchy, isn't a little threatening to those voices that are most public. There are educators in Ning who are taking brave steps, speaking up a little, getting supported and encouraged, making connections, and finding new friends--and all in matter of a few days--that would never get that kind of mentoring in the regular edublogosphere.

Interesting that I feel so passionate about this. Hmmmm... It's the Tom Hoffman in me.

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I was one of the early readers of blogs, but not a blogger until a year ago. I actually think that Ning takes blogging to the next step. Not only are you sharing your thoughts in blogs, but you're able to share video, photos, and more. I also believe that while there are many great corporate educator networks out there, it's nice for teachers to be able to join a network and not worry about events or anything else in order to be a member. I can learn from others or share my knowledge at my own comfort without the added stress.

I don't think that this is a babystep. I think it's a great leap. Isn't Web 2.0 suppose to be about collaboration?

Then again, I also believe in being a teamplayer and a member of a community. I'm not a loner. Collaboration is in my blood.
I completely agree with you, collaboration, community, something I see and experience on Classroom20 which I definitely didn't find with my blog (don't have enough to say, or the skills to say it - writing a blog to no audience, seems to me to be futile, may as well just keep a diary, where is the opportunity for learning and growth if there's no feedback?) Yes reading other's blogs has been a learning experience for me, but it has been a solitary experience which contradicts my idea/expectations of web2.0. On classroom20 I have the chance to learn, participate and contribute in small chunks, which suits me fine. Oh and to put the icing on the cake, people here are supportive and friendly!
When I first began blogging in December of 2006, I was very interested in creating a network group, much like Ning, for new teachers to talk and discuss together. There was no such thing. This meant that I had to develop my own blog, my own voice and get out there to find blogs of other educators to discuss and share. Shortly after that a group of teachers created the Gentech group which raised some questions about the whole social blogging discussion. Here we are again.

Since that time, I've read, found new bloggers that I mention in my blog regularly, discuss ideas on a number of blogs, comment and so forth. I'm not a prominent blogger by any means but, tell the truth, I'm getting more feedback from my blog than from the same posts here in Ning where there the group is larger. Also, I have friended alot of people, looked at their blogs, left comments on their chatter walls only to have no response. Maybe it's my topics? I read through the discussions and comments and see a similar path being created where, lthough there are a few comments by different people, it is usually the same people commenting on each discussion. There are those who have time to do that and those who, for whatever reason, may read but don't comment.
For me, as someone who has developed a blog, I'm here to see how this evolves. Now, I also use eduspaces and Explode to communicate with people. As I read more and more blogs and get involved with different people, I rarely visit the blogs of the "stars", although a title might grab my attention and I might go there. With the number of bloggers that are writing, I have found my network has grown quite substantially in just a little while.
I agree that the early adopters and, now, the early majority are looking at things in two different ways. I try to answer the comments on my blog and wait for comments on other blogs. I'm finding these discussion here to be of a different sort than on the blogs. You are right, that people are speaking up a little, getting supported and encouraged, making connections, and finding new friends--and all in matter of a few days which is great but it is not the same as blogging. It is very similar to the online environments that I have had when taking a class or participating in an online conference.

Now, Joseph Chmielewski comments that A Blog should have been the "citizen journalist," ferreting out waste, fraud, abuse, corruption, stupidity, ignorance...and exposing the "Let's do it like we've always done it" mentality. I often wonder whose ideas of we'll use to do the ferreting? Personally, I've seen things that I think are stupid or ignorant on many blogs but that is my own personal opinion. I've also seen blogs used to say some pretty nasty things all under the cover of the anonymity. I think we have a long way to go before citizen jounalism can take root. However, these things have also made me think about my position, understanding or stance and delve deeper into it. So, I may not agree but there is still learning going on. At this point, I'm not sold on Ning. It may grow on me and I'm not dismissing it and I am contributing and partaking, not just leaving my URL. However, this is a "closed" community and we aren't getting the input from people outside education, unless they join, that really do add a different view to things and some salient comments that really add to the conversation. I like the idea but, having gone through the process myself in the last little while, I also thought a starting place would have been great. Now, I'm not so sure.
We are not into exploring the applications of web 2.0 - let's call it all social software - to claim that one technology is better than another - although we can refelect on what functionalities or lack of aggrieve us, and reflect on how to best use what we have available to us. The web is always changing and we must change with it and modify our startegies and approaches as educators to enhance our ability to meet the needs of our students. There is no one tool that will meet all our needs at present. Within the edublogging sphere it has been agreed that we must work with "pieces loosely joined" - that not only isn't there one application to serve all needs - but that our needs continually evolve and the applications must evolve with those needs. We have to work with what we have in common - a desire to innovate and a need to reflect and share. We are all seeking to make the web more "social", we are all seeking ways to personalize our messages, share and connect, have notification of posts of interest and when our post are commented upon; we crave conversation without the encumbrance of having to repost in twelve places and having to create yet another profile. Well, we aren't there yet, so we make use of a variety of tools - and options like RSS allow us to post once and have our message fanned out to a variety of learning spaces where we have "joined". And we post and comment in a variety of spaces - in pursuit of "communities of interest" where we can contribute and have our contributions recognized (positive and negative) and our common interests affirmed. Is Ning "the" social learning tool? - no - is Elgg the best personal learning environment? - no - is my blog the best? - no. But they all work together and serve my needs for the moment - barely.
As a postscript - my only criticism of Ning is that is not an organic application - where users can define and refine the application design - that is it isn't open source software that I can download and modify to my needs - Elgg has that strength.
Right - Ning is like the crappy bar where all your friends are.
Actually, if we wanted to, we could download the Ning code and hack at it--but I know what you mean... Maybe using Ning will give some people the interest and confidence to set up Elgg or Drupal on their own. And for those that don't get that far, Ning still can do a lot of good.

I also think that Ning has some of the MySpace feel to it which might not ever get designed into a more professional solution for a school, but which maybe will help bring people into it. I don't have any real experience with Elgg, but when some people have pointed me to Elgg sites and asked why we didn't just do this in Elgg, I've looked at the sites and thought: there's not a lot of "zing" there. And I think the "majority" crowd we are talking about are going to need some "zing."
Steve, what do you mean by "zing"? What do you see as being the difference? Just curious:)
I'm not even sure. Frilly, non-essential elements that visually draw you into the site. Stuff that my austere brain would have felt were foolish. Take the "friends" thing--I would have had no idea that new members would see being tagged as a "friend" as welcoming....
I know what you are talking about. It's the ability to add things that the rights side of the brain likes. That is why I like Edublogs so much. I can add and customize as I want. Now, with Zing, all the "add-ons" are static and I really don't want to spend time hacking around. That's kind of why I like my blogging experience so much. The different blogs I see give me so many different ideas. thanks for the reply.
Wow!! I have been blogging for almost a year and am proud of the readership that I have attained. I've attracted this readership by commenting on other peoples' blogs. I do think there's a real purpose of the blogosphere, which is not fulfilled in a constrained social network site. When I write in my blog I want everybody to be able to read it not just people who are part of a social community. But at the same time, I've never seen such a heated exchange in the open blogosphere. Open blogosphere exchanges tend to become dirty and messy. This one seems to have remained civil. Perhaps that's because it's taking place in a constrained community. There's room for both.

Andrew Pass
http://www.pass-ed.com/blogger.html

OK, I readily admit, I'm including my blog address because I want to drive traffic to my blog. On a social network site like this people aren't as concerned about driving traffic.
I agree with the notion that we need multiple approaches in the 2.0 world. It isn't either/or here but it does touch on the chaos you feel before systemic change takes root. So it is a bit of a chaotic 2.0 world but it will clean itself out. To me blogs are accumulated narratives of our lives, for example it would be my story on what restaurants I like, and how me and my friends chose one, then how we travelled there, what it looked like and all the things that surround that life story. Ning is the conversations we have when we sit down to eat.
Fascinating imagery. I like it a lot.

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