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Monday, October 23, 2006

Blogging in Education: Girls?

Having just returned from a fantastic October break I have been doing a little bit of research in to why blogging in education is predominantly by males. I am aware that not everyone reading this post will be blogger.

Quote Wikipedia
'A blog is a website where entries are made in journal style and displayed in a reverse chronological order. Blogs often provide commentary or news on a particular subject, such as food, politics, or local news; some function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. Most blogs are primarily textual although some focus on photographs (photoblog), videos (vlog), or audio (podcasting), and are part of a wider network of social media'

Blogging is relatively new to me. I myself was unaware of the immense benefits that blogging brings until I became involved with the exciting initiative GLOW. It was Ewan McIntosh from LTS who really inspired me to start. Initially, setting up a blog can be a rather daunting and frustrating process. Rather like learning to use a new mobile phone, or an application such as File-maker Pro. However, once set-up it is all go. But why is it that the majority of Educators networking in this way are male?
Briefly asking a few female colleagues from all levels of the secondary sector, their comments include the following:

I just don’t have enough time’

‘I don’t know how to begin? I would if some one could show me’

‘Blogging is fine for reading, but I have no idea what I would write about!’

‘Blogging? No it’s not for me. I have only visited two blogs. Where do people get the time to do this? It’s all a bit flashy and cliquey if you want my honest opinion!’

‘I would rather stick pins in my head than read or write a blog!’

The general feeling I perceived was a lack of confidence in using ICT. Some staff are not confident in using PowerPoint. Logically, they will not be entertaining the thought of producing a blog. I strongly feel that classroom practitioners who are confident and able in this field should be given opportunity to pass our expertise on. I can understand why the blogosphere might appear clique from the outside, but anyone reading this can be rest assured that it isn’t. We are just well practised with our ICT skills. Speaking for myself (and I am sure my fellow bloggers will agree) we are more than willing to help you if you would like to start! Time may also appear to be an issue. It might look like bloggers spend hours on the net, typing and creating sites, but again this is not the case. Once the Blog is created, it is just a case of posting articles when you choose. Most bloggers have become very quick at typing. Having spoken to Ewan McIntosh via SKYPE, he can type a huge 60 words a minute! As they say, practice makes perfect! There does seem to be a slight negative attitude among some staff and I and my fellow bloggers must try and turn this feeling around. As a GLOW mentor, I am hoping to encourage more staff to blog, but before they blog they will need more support in using ICT. You have to walk before you can run! Though, in my opinion, this support will be fairly useless unless it is given on a one to one basis. This will need to happen soon as what we have occurring is a polarisation between those who are seen as ICT gurus, and those who struggle to use outlook express.

Anyway, I have gone a bit off the track here! What are the reasons for more males than females to be blogging in education? I think that, in general, male teachers are more confident in using ICT, that is not to say that us ladies are any the less able! Let me know what you think.


At Sunday, 22 October, 2006, Blogger Ewan McIntosh said...

I find the emphasis on ICT skill for blogging a strange one since blogging is probably one of the easiest tasks to do from a technological point of view. You sign up (3 clicks), you say what you want to say (typing) and publish (one click). Creating a good PowerPoint or worksheet on Word is far more complicated.

What is really difficult about blogging is seeing the relationship between what you say now and the way others will interpret it. What is difficult for educators is that by keeping a blog you are opening your views up to scrutiny - positive and negative.

These are the things people lack confidence in and that is entirely logical and understandible.

What I concentrate on are the benefits blogging can bring. Depending on what you want out of it it can bring you into a circle of people who share a similar passion, bring you into a new sphere of knowledge, act as a learning log for new found things, act as a website to share links or act as a space to think out loud. It can help you network professionally and, yes, it can help your chances of promotion.

Aha! Is *this* the reason so many males take it up compared to females, in the circle of education at least?

Funny, because some of the best blogs I read are by women.

Subject matter = difficult
Technology = no difficult

At Monday, 23 October, 2006, Blogger Tess Watson said...

I think you have probably hit the nail on the head there Ewan. I am planning to run an inhouse CPD session on networking so I will possibly quote you in the near future :)

At Tuesday, 24 October, 2006, Blogger Kenneth... said...

I can't help but disagree on the point that Ewan raises. I've been Blogging for a month now and I find it technically challenging. This is in part due to me using Safari as a browser, which doesn't support all the java applets for manipulating your blog text, so I have to insert all the HTML codes by hand. So I would argue, that to create more visually interesting blogs, you need to know more complex technical knowledge. Just like Word or PP you can use it for a simple purpose but to use it more effectively you need more ICT knowledge.

The second point is an idea for Tess. Why not set up dept/faculty blogs with multiple authors. Blogs don't have to be "one singer, one song". You could have a maths blog where all members of the dept have authoring rights. This would then give the members a focus for online discussion. Just an idea!


At Tuesday, 24 October, 2006, Anonymous Liz O'Neill said...


Just found your site and think it looks brilliant.

Regarding the confidence issue, I think it’s a combination of two factors, fear of technology and fear of being misinterpreted. For me the former is possibly the more pressing. I would add a third factor – a misconception about blogging. I thought blogging was some sort of stream of consciousness experiment for insomniacs until I
read an education blog. Come to think of it, oh never mind…

I’m an English teacher, (Dumfries and Galloway) and would love to use blogging with my classes. I’m starting small by beginning my own blog. I’ve just got to the stage of uploading pictures, and have finally worked up the courage to invite a couple of people to read it.
I’ve got loads of questions about blogging –but not sure who to ask. Stuff like –what happens when the school network block blogs as ‘personal pages’ –do I just ask the administrator to unblock them? Do you need parental permission to run a class blog?
And so on.

I would welcome any pointers.

Liz O’Neill

At Tuesday, 24 October, 2006, Anonymous shaz said...

interesting point tess - i reckon as an interface blogs can be less appealing to girls - techno garbage and html etc. However like most things i'm sure girls will prevail, especially with the great capacity for chat and banter as promoted here.... why not threaten a few girls with the prospect of appearing on your flicker badge... i'm sure they could be easily blackmailed into starting a blog of their own... nice one tess

At Tuesday, 24 October, 2006, Anonymous john said...

I am with Ewan as to the tech difficulty, a lot of blogs are read via an rss reader so it doesn't matter what they looks like.
You can star an ugly blog and slowly make it look better. Web design is in the eye of the beholder.

I am not sure about the chances of promotion, blogging has not worked for me:(

Kenneth, I use Safari as my browser of choice, I don't want to mess about with fonts and styles in a blog, apart from the odd em. In my opinion the best thing you can get is SafariStand, I've ignored most of its features but it adds a Copy Link HTML Tag item to the contextual menu saves a lot of time. Safari also spell checks web forms which is essential for me.

I am more interested in children blogging, and in my limited experience the girls are keener to blog in class.

Liz you probably need parental permission to use children's photos on a blog. We use a standard letter all the parents sign. No names and photos together is our main rule.

At Wednesday, 25 October, 2006, Blogger Tess Watson said...

Liz, Thanks for making contact. I was a bit like you when I started out, but I am slowly building confidence, whilst making lots of little mistakes with spelling and HTML. I have lots of ideas about how to use blogs and podcasts in education and I am slowly trying them out. If you want you can email through my site. I am not sure how to look at your blog as there was no reference on your message?

Kenneth, your idea on a deparmental blog is a great one, though I think I would need to do it through the East Lothian Council who don't use blogger.com. I am still learning the ropes myself. But watch this space!

John, what web support do you use for blogging with kids? Does it have to be through the authority or could I use blogger.com?

Thanks for all the comments folks!

At Wednesday, 25 October, 2006, Anonymous john said...

Hi Tess,
We use pivot you need to have some webspace to run it. It sits in the same site as our main website. pivot is not as popular with educational blogs as wordpress or blogger, but I like it.
If you host the software yourself (you could use wordpress too) you have a bit more control over the way the site looks etc.
Blogger has the next blog problem (where all blogs have a link to a random next blog) which some authorities do not like, there is a workaround but you are then breaking you agreement with blogger (AFAIK)

At Wednesday, 25 October, 2006, Blogger Tess Watson said...

Thanks for that John. I might try to start a class blog at some point this term. I would need to speak to our head teacher and our council. I am really getting into blogging, what a great way to network!!! :)

At Wednesday, 25 October, 2006, Blogger Tess Watson said...

Hey Sharon! Thanks for checking the blog out. For anyone reading this, Sharon Gallagher is a teacher or art a Portobello High School and she *WILL* be setting up her own space soon! ;)

At Wednesday, 25 October, 2006, Anonymous Liz said...

These are really useful comments, thanks! It obviously makes sense to be clear on all this sort of stuff before getting started.


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