Thursday, September 09, 2010

Is the ELT blogging honeymoon over?

Recently, Alex Case of TEFLTASTIC asked if the TEFL blogging boom was over. He was, of course, referring to the blogging explosion that happened over the last year or so in ELT, with lots of teachers who'd previously never done so starting blogs, and the fact that the hyper-activity of nine months or so has now died down. In particular, he cited the reduction in mutual linking and commenting.

I'm not sure if this lull has to do with the summer, and that once the new term begins (at least for many teachers in Europe), there'll be an increase in activity again. Time will tell. Alex wondered if the drop in activity was due to Twitter, but if anything, I think Twitter was probably behind the increase in blogging that ocurred in 2009. As this micro-blogging site took off and lots more teachers saw the value of it and got used to sharing their thoughts in 140 characters, I believe many of them then realised that sometimes, 140 characters wasn't enough, and the logical progression was for them to start a blog.

Taken together, Twitter and a blog are like Batman and Robin, a dynamic duo which has come to form the basis of a PLN (personal learning network) for many people. People pick up on trends using Twitter and expand upon them, writing posts on their blog, which they tell everyone about using Twitter, and so on.

There's also the Wow!factor of course. When someone first discovers blogging and gets a taste for it, then it's typical that they spend lots of time writing posts. It's new and it's fun and most people get a taste for it, especially when they have people visit and leave comments (the 'Hey! Someone is interested in what I have to say!' factor). As time goes by, however, and especially if the comments drop off, then it's not surprising if people start wondering if it's all worthwhile and post less frequently. Some will also stop blogging altogether.

As for me, I've gone through all of this, and have repeatedly told myself to be more of an active blogger, but, looking at my blogging statistics (below), in the eight years I have been blogging (2003-2010) seems to show that blogging is only something I do occasionally these days, and has been for a number of years. Making the chart below and tracking my blogging progress surprised me. Why? Because I still think of myself as a blogger, but I think I now read other people's blogs more and spend more time commenting upon them than I do on writing in my own blog. The exception, of course, is the Digital Play blog, which I share with my colleague Kyle Mawer – there we have been regularly blogging once a week and have every intention of carrying on doing so starting again this month.



So, what now for blog-efl? Well, I noticed that I've publicly stated on this blog that I was going to get back into blogging again and it never happened. Why was that? I think it was mainly because there were too many other things going on to occupy my attention, but I do keep coming back here, and I have every intention of becoming more of an active blogger. I think I've got my appetite back again. At least it now seems that my blogging activity is increasing (I've written one more post than I did last year) – I wonder if I'll ever return to the hyper-activity of 2003-4...

11 comments:

  1. I suspect it's about "priorities"... I took a nose dive over the summer due to a million gazillion other priorities and actually missed it very much and am now trying to catch up. I think I learned much more when I was blogging frequently because when you blog frequently you're also visiting other bloggers as frequently.

    Alex has a point about twitter... but it's so incredibly transient, enjoy my time there especially when I block some time to converse but... it's not like blogging.

    Reckon Alex just stirring embers, blogging is growing and growing (with many, many more real key players and that's not lessening overall).

    K

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  2. Well, from personal experience, I started a blog at the beginning of the year, during the 'boom-time', I suppose and have done very little reading, commenting or indeed, blogging for the last three months, because like most teachers I had a 9 month contract that finished at the end of June and have since been lost in summer school land managing a site in the UK and also travelling, without a regular internet connection. So, I suspect a lot of others have perhaps been through a similar change of situation since June.

    Let's see how many people return - starting about now!

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  3. Great post Graham, very stimulating topic. What I think we're seeing, with ELT blogs but with blogs in many other areas as well, is a retreat from quantity - along with those guilt pangs because you haven't updated your blog in the past three days -- and a move towards quality, where you only blog when you have something significant or original to say. We now have FB and LinkedIn and even Twitter for posting the more transient information; allowing the role of blogs to evolve to what they were always best at: proper personal "think pieces,' the best of which gain a wider audience than ever before thanks to all the other social networking and search tools we have at our disposal. Quality over quantity: never a bad move, I think we can all agree.

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  4. Hi Graham

    It was so funny to see this post by you after featuring an old post of yours (on a similar topic) over at ESL-Library's blog as part of our #FF tribute series. I had scheduled the post, but hadn't published it yet and then I found your new one on a similar topic. It was Alex's post that inspired me to choose your old post to feature. Anyway, it was a fun coincidence. Keep blogging!
    http://redriverpress.com/news/esl-library/from-the-archivesgraham-stanley/
    Tara

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  5. Good to see you are back and possibly getting into blogging again :)

    I personally love Digital Play and am glad you plan to continue going with that site. I'll be interested to see what you've got here too.

    Like so much of our teaching lives, a lot seems to be about interest and motivation.

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  6. Ah, you made me think of Ecclesiastes, and for that I'll be eternally grateful! There is a time for everything - and as the book ends, we know not of reason or rhyme.

    We can speculate all we want but there will remain bloggers, me thinks. I remember well how they said nobody would read any more books because it was easier to read all the thousands of sprouting book reviews. However, books remained.

    Blogs have a kind of permanence, like a book. Myself, I sniff out bloggers who really have it in 'em. Meaning, they'd blog if even alone on an island, only them and a lap top and the lapping of the sea. It isn't a seasonal thing but something of intention, raw and true.

    I'm all for many places to express ourselves. We can all find our way. The way is most important, not the mask or form. Let's flit about and keep the "knowing" flowing.... like you are doing here.

    Great post about "as you've seen it" , that personal knowledge is always invaluable.

    Cheers,

    David

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  7. I guess it depends on why you're blogging. I use my blog as a means of collecting and disseminating a lot of the random pieces of advice and ideas that come out of classes - kind of like an online version of a block of Post-It notes. I don't think I posted a lot over the summer when there was a lull in classes, but now that we're back in full swing, I'm certianly not lacking for material...

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  8. Thanks everyone - time swept me off to the EUROCALL conference in Bordeaux last week and I've only just managed to get to commenting here myself now...

    I think that Twitter complements a blog very nicely, and, as you mention, Karenne, it takes very little time to post on Twitter, and more to write a blog post (although this depends on the post of course).

    I think you're right, Richard - it's the summer lull and I'm sure that there'll be a 'blogsplosion' of activity soon...

    Thanks for the comments too, Paul, Nick, Patricia and David, and I'm honoured that you chose one of my past posts, Tara - thank you!

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  9. Would say things were back to the level of last spring yet

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  10. Blogging is certainly moving towards quality. The key issue is distinguishing between authors without having to read entire posts!

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  11. You've been doing it for several years, so you're in the right position to pass judgement.
    I agree with some other comments that it's a seasonal thing. I also think quality plays a big role.

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