Mainstream Media vs. Blogosphere: Mainstream Ed vs. Edublogosphere?

It is no secret that mainstream media tends to dislike the blogosphere and many bloggers (particularly political ones) dislike mainstream media.

However, I find the current Associated Press assault on quotations used on the Drudge Retort (with links, mind you) as short as 35 words to be #1 Shortsighted and #2 the wrong thing to do for mainstream media. (Hat tip to Will Richardson and Jeff Jarvis.)

It is all about eyeballs. Whoever gets the eyeballs gets the advertising dollar.

However, if mainstream media would wake up and realize that many of us are getting our breaking news from twitter, (I've settled for following BreakingNewsOn from the Netherlands – REAL news sources inundate me – they do about 3 updates a day.), perhaps they could add value to our lives instead of inundating us with 24/7 news online. Online, we don't want 24/7 news — if we want that, we'll watch cable. We want snippets of the news and updates, we need meaning— quality over quantity, for goodness sakes.

So, this week, the New York Times reported that the AP will clearly define the proper linking policies for bloggers.

I do entirely agree with one quote in the article from Jim Kennedy, vice president and strategy director of The A.P:

““Cutting and pasting a lot of content into a blog is not what we want to see,” he said. “It is more consistent with the spirit of the Internet to link to content so people can read the whole thing in context.””

I agree with this entirely, although I disagree with how they went about trying to make this their point!

If you write about it, link it.
That is good netiquette and soon, it may be illegal to do otherwise.

Blogging is not something for the lazy. Just this week, someone wrote a blog article about me (not linking to article on purpose) and in it, told the readers to go to my blog and give me a thank you. There was just my name, no mention of my blog name.

Now, let me ask you — how are those readers going to find me? Was it really a compliment or was it really not? It was not kind to the reader and not good netiquette.

Additionally, splogs often copy ENTIRE blog posts from here and use it without linking. I have no method of recourse against them. I've seen some educators do this in the past, although it is not as much of a problem.

Additionally, I have seen some companies take entire blog posts WITHOUT my permission and have had to deal with that as well. Companies who steal content and think creative commons is permission to steal AND DON'T Link back to my blog. I notice this at least 4-5 times a week.

So, mainstream media shouldn't think they are the only one's in this. And bloggers don't have the time to pursue all of the perpetrators.

Teach the right way!
But I believe it is VERY important to teach students to link to their sources, even if they are commenting on a post. It is the right thing to do.

We'll see what happens with this, however, this whole incident shows the growing tension between the blogosphere and mainstream media outlets who still haven't quite begun to understand the blogosphere.

Controlling the news is something that a few organizations have done for quite a long period of time and now anyone with the ability to blog, wiki, take photos, or record things can break news from anywhere. Many news organizations are disconcerted as well they should be.

And it is just beginning in education
I also predict that this same upheaval is just beginning in education. Just as the political and news blogosphere is drawing increased dislike from established journalists, so too will many teacher, administrator, and educator bloggers in the coming years.

It is all about power and when power shifts, the establishment fights back.

It has only begun in education.

I would like to say that many in education have been welcoming to a newcomer like me. As a relative newcomer, I would find that many in edtech (particularly the edubloggers) have been incredibly welcoming. (But maybe that is because most edubloggers are relative newcomers too, at least to the edublogosphere.)

However, there are also many in establishment who have NOT been welcoming at all. This is their hill and they've been on top for quite some time and think someone is coming to push them off.

(This is mostly in the form of those in edtech who don't read the edublogosphere, whether intentionally or not, really leave others out of the conversation– me included! I've seen this happen between edubloggers, though, and it is something we must all be careful about. The “you're not worthy of eye contact” type of thing.)

I get a lot of “and who are you” types of comments when I travel. My response, “I'm just a teacher.”

(Which makes most mad, however, it is a litmus test for me with those I meet. If a person immediately says — “but teachers are very important” — I know a lot about that person. I believe that teaching is an amazingly noble and tough calling that is misunderstood greatly. If someone says, “oh” and moves on, then that is all I need to know. I am just a teacher and teachers have made me who I am.)

Well, I am planning to stay in the classroom. I hardly think my 5-6 conferences a year are going to hurt anyone.

However, when many more teachers like me begin to do 5-6 conferences a year, as they will, the backlash will happen.

SomeONE is not coming to push off the establishment off the presenters circuits — but ManyTEACHERS are!

I predict that classroom teachers will increase in prominence and voice in education, despite the efforts of many to tell teachers that they shouldn't be blogging and shouldn't be speaking. I also think that many in the trenches like administrators, curriculum directors and IT directors will also. I think that being an ACTIVE person in the trenches is the new currency at conferences and carries a lot of merit. (I also happen to think that presenters with a lot of teaching experience in their background are also in high demand.)

I hope that we can handle the changes that are coming well and model for the other sectors of society how it is to be done.

What are we here for?

The way I feel about it is that we should all be here for the students. It is about making sure our classrooms are doing a great job of not only educating students but helping them find their individual talents. It is about helping our country thrive in the years to come.

If anyone is in the classroom for a power trip, they are certainly there for the wrong reason. Now, the speakers/ pd circuit — that is a whole different animal.

What will happen we we truly start seeing more teachers at conferences, that is anyone's guess.

What will happen as more teachers write their own textbooks and self-publish on lulu?

What will happen as open source curriculum begins taking hold?

What will happen when students start creating their own voice outside of adult control?

What will happen when a group of anonymous editors writes a source of educational material that has more readership than any printed book in existence? (Um, that has already happened in Wikipedia.)

We are talking major shifts in organizational structure. We will have organizations in education that emerge than haven't been heard of yet. And we will have organizations that have been a mainstay for many years disappear.

I'm not one who wishes for this to happen, but as a product of a business school, it is happening.

I believe that business has great value to offer education and vice versa. I also think that not one side has all of the answers in what needs to happen for education to evolve from a failing mush of student-mass production with an excessively high failure rate to a personalized learning environment that allows students to become well educated AND find their strengths. We need to work together.

The trenches have never been more attractive or more terrible!

But the shift in power, the shift in money… any time this happens it isn't pretty. It just isn't.

Don't get out of the edublogosphere… join it. Just know that many have hidden agendas and it takes a while to know what they are.

And don't think that anyone has ALL the answers (especially me!)

I happen to think that the infusion of many excellent practicing teachers into professional development and the collapse of the float for discussion of best practices is a good thing for education.

I think that teachers, students, and others working around the world together make education stronger.

My own personal mini-sabbatical for a few weeks helps me come back to things and see some things about behind the scenes turmoil and power struggles that I'm seeing in my own email inbox.

Power shifts cause powerful disagreements and there is more there than we know.

Be ready.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Michael Walker June 20, 2008 - 3:15 pm

Great post!
I have been running up against the establishment in one of the buildings I work with because:
a) How does one teach AP courses in a student centered environment?
b) Change is difficult!

I think your analogy is right on. We need to help Administrators 1.0 and Teachers 1.0 to find purpose in what the edublogosphere has to offer. It’s like the teacher 10 years ago who told me to get the grey box out of her room, and then came to me a couple months later wondering how to access a PBS cooking show recipe. She ended up being one of the best integrationists in my building the year she retired!

Also, give a big hello to my colleague Molly Schroeder, who will be joining you at the Google Teacher’s Academy!

Terry Freedman June 20, 2008 - 3:24 pm

Vicki, regarding mentioning blog without giving URL, people do that to me a lot. In some cases, like The Economist, it’s done routinely, ie they NEVER give URLs as far as I can see.

I agree that it is not nice — I always try to give credit and URLs (eg in this article: I acknowledged you, did u see that?), but when all is said and done, what difference does it make to someone like you (or me)?

I just did Google searches for:

Vicki Davis
Cool Cat blog
Terry Freedman
ICT in Education

In each case you or I came out right on top.

So, what’s the problem?

Nicole June 20, 2008 - 3:49 pm

Wonderful post! I whole heartedly agree. I have not been in education long, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist (just a teacher) to see that far too many are NOT in it for the kids. In fact, this is my biggest complaint about education- or rather the “institution of education”.

P. Fjeldstrom June 20, 2008 - 7:02 pm

Wonderful post!

I agree that there are so many shifts that people are either not ready for, or are resistant against.

I am new at the blogging scene (started in October 2007), and have leared so much over this last school year. Linking back to people who you mention is crucial, and I will admit that I did not realize my not doing it until about December 2007, in which case I was sure to go back and link to those people. I find it is really important that credit is given where it is due. If you agree (or disagree) with someone and choose to voice your opinion on it, then you must have the courage to link back and let others who read your blog to form their own opions by reading the original source. In a way, it is cyberbullying if that is not done.

Also, I hope that the resistance that is still out there about blogging will fade away. I still recieve comments such as “your blogging! I would never do that as a teacher – it is career suicide!” and my response is typically trying to reason with an individual who does not have background on the subject. If you are aware that the information you put on the Internet can and will be viewed by others, and you are a well-aware individual, then you are likely to recieve praise, not flak from what you write. It is how you write, what you write about and how it is presented that is crucial to your “name”. Ettiquette is very important on the Internet, just as it is in any other form of writing or speaking.

Thank you for sharing!!!

Priscilla Fjeldstrom

Vicki A. Davis June 20, 2008 - 7:23 pm

@Michael – I’ll look for Molly. You’re right, change is never easy.

@terry – I think when it bothers me most is when it is something controversial that the other person may not want me to see and I have to find out “through the grapevine.” I think if someone is writing something, they should link it, it is just the right thing to do and prevents misunderstandings.

@nicole – It is tough to keep the focus on the students, but that is what we’re here for.

@priscilla – It is a whole new and equally important form of communication and so I think it should be taught in schools for this reason. Thank you so much for your insight.

Dave Ferguson June 23, 2008 - 10:41 pm

In terms of providing a link:

First, it’s clearer attribution. Consider how many ways people can misspell Vicki. Or, if you search for someone less well-known, like me, you’ll find a whole bunch of people, many of them with websites that aren’t mine.

Second, it’s more honest. I often summarize things from posts I’ve read, but I provide the link back so you can see what the ellipses left out… and see in greater context than my commentary could provide.

Third, it’s more considerate. Why make someone who’s already here go elsewhere to find out where to go? I know how to use Google, but I don’t want to have to use it because you didn’t put a link to something you chose to talk about.

Fourth, it’s faster (which relates to number 3, above). Providing a link is a way of allowing someone an easier choice to go where he or she cares to go.

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