Is Anybody Out There?

I am always being encouraged by Sarah, our Communications Coordinator who is also working on her Masters of Communications degree – and is one of those annoyingly whip-smart young people that remind me daily of how old I really am – to treat this part of my job, blogging, with as much importance as I do other priorities, like, say, getting a new national organization representing the best independent schools in Canada off the ground.  She tells me to think of working on my blog as “joining the conversation”, whatever that might mean.  She also slipped a book about Twitter into my suitcase her first week on the job – a little professional development reading as I traversed the country meeting with member schools.  Needless to say, Sarah’s a keeper.  But, do I really have time for all this other stuff and does anyone really care about what I have to say anyway? Naturally, as an educator, I did some research. Being a stickler for best practices and reliable sources of information, I gravitated towards the sites I thought would have the best, most credible research on social media and the role of blogs.  After strolling through the excellent research of the Pew Foundation’s Internet Project, and seeking the wisdom of McKinsey and others, I actually found myself, of all places, on a blog. Socialmediagraphics.posterous.com is one guy’s aggregation of, as he puts it, “all kinds of social media related charts, graphs and infographics.” Now, I had never heard of Michael Schulz, the blogger here, nor do I know much about him now.  But he has gathered together some of the most compelling research laid out in simple, easy to get graphics, and links to other sites analyzing social media in all its aspects, that I was able to find.  That doesn’t mean Mr. Schulz is the final word in all of this, and he doesn’t claim to be.  It’s just that he has delivered a valuable resource to anyone interested in learning more about this topic.  And who isn’t? So I had my first Oprah ‘a ha’ moment.  Never mind the stats, I was living proof that blogs connect people in a wholly unique way, and for all the silly stuff out there, (and there’s an abundance of that), there’s also the Michael Shulzes of the world. My second Oprah moment happened when I was considering what I could bring to this table.  What I know about is education.  What I do is research and aggregate data about the best, most effective ways of teaching kids and running schools.  What I have in my organization is a brain trust of the finest minds in Canadian education.  And when I think about the role of education and how vital it is that we get it right for the sake of our planet, I can’t imagine people wouldn’t be interested.  At least, that’s my hope. So, I’ve decided to listen to young Sarah and ‘join the conversation’.  I believe I have something to add and could provide a valuable resource to anyone interested in the topic – just like my new pal Michael Schulz does for social media.  And perhaps more importantly, maybe we can have a conversation that could lead to an idea to make education just a little better. One of the things I want to talk about is how we can harness this tool as a means of learning for students and teachers alike. One of my next posts will focus on that subject, and I’ll have some data to share from a survey we did among Canadian independent schools and their use of social media in the classroom. There are people out there already actively blogging about independent education, and I’ve started to follow a few of our CAIS Canada School Heads’ blogs including Bob Snowdon, Jim Power, Karen Murton, and Stuart Grainger. I’m looking forward to joining the conversation here…and maybe even provoking a few myself.

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