Are there really 3000 of us educators using these things? These "things" being "blogs," of course. According to Will Richardson of weblogg-ed.com, that's how many of us are blogging---including those who use them with students in the classroom. The Miami Herald recently published an article entitled "Blog-writing Teachers Crowd Information Highway" (id: bugmenot [at] 123 [dot] com; password: june2005). Somehow, 3000 doesn't feel "crowded" to me. There are an estimated 60 million bloggers worldwide (not including spots like Friendster and MySpace).
Those of you currently occupying the Edusphere know that there aren't a lot of rules in place at the moment. Teachers in most places are under no restrictions about having a blog (including my district). But many districts are starting to take notice---especially for those blogs where a particular teacher or class is identified.
I think the benefit of the "professional" blog is that it provides a more interactive way to have some reflective practice. A written diary or journal is usually only seen by the author---there's little or no opportunity for outside viewpoints and interpretations. Meanwhile, it is just as unlikely that you're going to be able to read anyone else's diary and consider their ideas. A friend of mine recently mentioned that he may start a blog related to educational technology and training. It's a wonderful idea---here is someone with a great deal of expertise and now he can have a forum to share that with anyone, anywhere.
I am hoping to start a blog with my class next year, which would obviously be very different from this one. Since my district duties will make me more inaccessible to my own students than in the past, I would like to think a blog would make a good way for us to stay in contact...continue classroom discussions...share articles we run across...and so on. But I don't wish to run the risk of having my kids personal information out there for all the world to see. I know that some teachers are having kids use aliases or id numbers. Maybe I'll try this.
Coach Brown has also noted the problems associated with security of personal student information...as well as the fact that many students don't seem to understand the risks involved with posting your name, picture, and cell phone number. He has also pondered what would happen if someone from school found his blog (and didn't like it). (Part II is here.)
I'm glad to know that out of the 3000 of us, I'm not the only one wondering about these sorts of things. The problem is, there aren't many answers at this point. I suppose the rule of thumb is simply "Try to not do anything stupid." I hope I'm smart enough to handle that.