Random Thoughts

The Stick turns 3!

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I told this story as my 10 minute TED talk at Learning 2.008. As September 19th was The Stick’s 3 year anniversary.


The Thinking Stick turned 3 a few days ago and it’s hard to imagine that it’s been 3 years since I installed WordPress and just started writing. As I started looking back through those first posts I started thinking about the journey that this blog has taken me on.

My first blog post was about a 5th grade classroom called the Polar Bear Class. The website no longer exists but this was my beginning into blogging. Talking about a class that was creating there own website. The website was not another subject, but was just what they did. It was apart of their classroom, it was a part of their learning.

My first comment came on post #10. Made by a good friend who at the time was teaching in Dubai. It was at that moment that I realized people where reading, even if only my friends….people were reading.

Post #14 Titled: Microwave Popcorn. One of the great first posts. Those of you that blog you know this post. The one that is going to get lots of comments. The post that will make people want to write, want to respond, want to engage in a discussion. The post talks about how technology works it’s way into our daily lives. How in 1982 I remember my father driving a combine in the Palouse all summer to save enough money to buy our first microwave and how today it is a part of every kitchen. My wife and I just moved to Bangkok, Thailand and our first major purchase…..a microwave.

The post was great, well written, well scripted. Guess how many comments……0!

Post #21 The Stick gets its first comment that is not from my friend Reece. The comment was left by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach. Little did I know at that time that Sheryl would become part of my learning network and over the next three years I would learn more from her about building virtual communities on the web than from anyone else. You see, The Stick was the start of our connection.

Post #25 I recieve my second comment from someone other than my friend Reece. This one left by Dean Shareski. My favorite part of the comment was this:

PS. Did you know your flickr zietgiest includes pictures of nude women? I was a bit taken back when I came on your site. Just curious if you intended that or not.

You see I was still trying to figure out the tools and some how didn’t have the flickr badge configured correctly. I made changes to the badge that day and learned some quick html as well.

Over the next 3 years Dean would become a valuable node in my network and at one point while he was teaching an undergrad class in Canada and I a graduate class in the States we would have our students create a wiki together. Learning from each other and learning the value of wikis in education. The Stick started that connection.

Post #28 Tim Lauer leaves a comment on a Firefox extension that allows you to highlight text on a web page. I would later meet Tim at NECC that year and he would become the first person in my Personal Learning Network that I would meet face to face.

But the big coming out party in my eyes for The Thinking Stick was on post #36. The title: NETS in a 2.0 World. I remember writing that post while in a meeting and posting it. Basically I took the NETs (the old ones at the time) and did a find and replace with the words Technology and Information.

I went to bed that night not thinking anything of it and woke up the next morning at 5am to find 6 comments and trackbacks on the post. I was completely taken by surprise. Up until this point to my knowledge I had 4 people reading my blog and all of a sudden I have 6 comments?

One comment/trackback was left by David Warlick. I couldn’t believe it! David was one of the first people I found in the blogosphere, he’s one of those “big bloggers”. He’s reading my stuff? Not only that he left a comment and gave me the hightest complement you can give to a blogger….he linked to my blog.

I remember going back into the bedroom and waking my wife up.

“Honey….it’s time to get up.”

“5 more minutes”

“No honey you have to get up now and you’ll never beleive who left a comment on my blog.”

“You’re waking me up because someone left a comment on your blog?”

“No, I’m waking you up because it’s time to get up, and not just someone…..David Warlick!”

“Who’s David Warlick?”

That was the moment when I realized what this network really was. It’s not about blogging. It’s about understanding that leanring takes place through connections. Whether we are connecting people, information, knowledge, or thoughts. That the learning lies within the connections that we make. My blog is where I started in making those connections, connections that have lead me down a path of deeper learning than I ever knew possible.

The Thinking Stick is now 3. It contains some 598 posts and over 2200 comments and trackbacks. I’m not sure how it all happened. It’s a learning blur that just seems to be there. My blog is my connection creator, my reflection engine, and where my journey of learning has been over the past 3 years. Thanks you for reading, Thank you for being a part of my network.

Other stats if you are interested. Not that they mean anything, just kind of fun to look at.

Technorati Authority: 226
Technorati Ranking: 19,182

From Google Analytics
54% of traffic comes for Search Engines

From Clustrmaps
Running total of visits to the above URL since 12 Jun 2006: 73,720
Total since archive, i.e. 17 Jun 2008 – present: 15,145 (not necessarily all displayed – see below).
Visits on previous ‘day’: 174.

Photo Credit: Zenat_el3ain

I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. Congratulations and happy birthday to your blog. I have only blogged for 12 months now and oh, so wish that I had been going as long as you. Your drama version of this post was most enjoyable at the Learn2.008 conference. Thank for your energetic and time consuming role in the organization of this conference. I was so lucky to be part of it.
    Your stats are most impressive but the connections as you say are its most wonderful, key feature. Keep up the great work!

    • Thanks Anne,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the conference and the TED talk I did about this post. To those that are just starting to blog, I am hoping to show that it takes time and that “moment” comes when you least expect it that you realize that learning takes place in the connections you create. Keep blogging, keep reflecting, and keep learning, because that’s what it’s really about!

  2. Jeff, I wondered into your blog via someone’s Tweet (not the first time I’ve seen your name out in the edublogosphere). I’ve been blogging for two years – and it still amazes me how quickly the connections grow. For example, via blogging, I know Anne, who also dropped by with a birthday wish.

    Thanks for sharing your journey.

  3. Great post, and happy birthday! I particularly liked the line, “Just curious if you intended that or not.”

    I’ve just started seriously blogging myself this summer, especially as a way to keep up on the news in the world of education technology. When I figured out how to put RSS feeds in the margin of my blog, thereby following some of the edugurus of the universe, I was very happy, although I suddenly felt the need for extra hours in the day.

    Thanks for your great work!

  4. Dropped by here looking for nude pictures but I see you’ve cleaned that up. 😉

    Thanks for all the great learning you share and being part of my network.

  5. Congratulations! I totally relate to your ‘not just anybody’ moment.

    It was in my early days as a blogger and I was checking my feeds as I did first thing every day in the office when I let out a squeal. Everyone turned to look at me in astonishment.

    “I got a shout-out from Stephen Downes” I enthused.

    Their response?

    “Who’s he?”


  6. Jeff,

    Happy Birthday! I look forward to reading your posts each week and usually it is the weekends before I catch up with all things I like to read. Your blog is on my top 20 -which keep growing to 30 and to 40- that I read each week. I just wanted to let you know all the from low country of South Carolina.


  7. Great day and Happy Birthday to the Thinking Stick! Through your blog I met you and you saved my Moodle even before it went live. The power of Personal Learning Networks. I was so excited to meet you at NECC07 after reading and commenting for so long. Keep writing and sharing!
    Cheryl Oakes

  8. Hi Jeff. I guess I should say Happy Birthday to The Stick. I was sorry I didn’t get to see you when you were at the 2.0 conference,but I did get to see your wife and she is better looking then you. Your Blog and passion for technology integration has really inspired me and the blogs seem to be working better this year. I really do think that they are an awesome tool for our students.

    I wondered if you had any ideas or hints for me. I am trying to get my students to think of their blog as a place for them to create a learning environment. I want it to end up being their parent/student conference. It slow work but hopefully I am getting through. What I wondered is if you could help with giving me some hints on getting them:

    1.Linking their blog posts to others. Also Linking to articles on the net, youtube videos,etc.

    2. Giving meaningful comments.

    3. If you know of any blog posts that talk about the purpose of blogging and how to be successful at it?


  9. Pingback: Happy 3rd Anniversary~ The Thinking Stick « Diana’s Blog

  10. It’s such a joy to read your blog! Happy B-day to the Stick! I’m new to Web2.0 and blogging, so I really ‘felt your pain’ with regard to comments…but that’s okay. I’m making incredible connections with educators all over the globe and I am learning volumes!!

    I’m looking forward to the day when my 3-month little blog turns 3 years! Thank you for all your contributions and I value what I learn from you.

    All my best,

  11. Isn’t it amazing how a blog can evolve and change just like a good learner? After reading your post I reflected back on the different ways I utilized my blog with my students last year vs. this year. This year I am reading and commenting on other blogs and dots are popping up on our Cluster Map! Once the students saw that people in New Zealand, Switzerland, and even exotic Kansas were reading their blog, their writing improved and they started taking this form of communication much more seriously.

  12. Jeff, congrats on making it 3 years. Very impressive!

    Also, thanks for this great, reflective post. I enjoyed reading your thoughts about your early blogging!

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