Random Thoughts

When blogging catches on in schools!

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86…the number of blogs now at Shanghai American School. Most of them are just getting started while others are really starting to get some good content, and there will be more to come!

It’s funny how a good thing, when given support, just takes off. It happened with Moodle in our High School primarily where everyday somewhere in the ballpark of 130 students log on to the site to do work. I started the Moodle site at our school last year, a couple teachers took it stated using it and like most things good, it spread by word of mouth. At the start of this year and up until about November we were adding a class a day to the site. With 1109 users (some from other countries in collaberative classes) Moodle has quickly become a foundation of our online existents at the school.

Blogging has been the next big thing. From 5th grade to High School we’ve been adding blogs set up in a number of ways. Some teachers have class blogs where students all have accounts on the same blog. Others, like the 5th grade team on the Pudong Campus have given each student a blog of their own.

In the first 3 hours of school today I’ve received two e-mails for more blogs One from the 4th grade team who is interested and the other from another 7th grade science teacher. On top of that I have 3 tech classes that will all have blogs soon and as word spreads I’m sure more will come.

Not every teacher ‘gets’ the power of these tools, how they really can be used to change the way we teach and the way students learn. Right now, I’d say we are building School 1.5. Using the technology because it’s there, not really looking at how it impacts learning. But, for now, I’m OK with this. We have to use the tool before we understand what it can do for us. When I started blogging I had no idea where it was going to lead, 16 months later I get it!

The best part is, this blog explosion could not be happening at a better time. In February the school is having the first ever Tech Fest. A day and a half conference focused on Technology. If that’s not cool enough, the school is flying David Warlick in for the whole week to work with teachers and administrators as we start looking at the vision of where we want our school to be.

So here I have arguably one of the best Educational Technology presenters coming to spend a week where blogging as a tool is just taking off. My hope is that David will be able to help teachers wrap their heads around the educational power that lies within these tools. Have you ever heard of the 75 mile rule? That is that you have to bring someone from 75 miles away that says things a little different for people to ‘get it’ and to buy into a plan. In David’s case it’s more like 6,000 miles…I think that’s far enough. 🙂

I encourage you take a look at some of the blogs. Again some have nothing on them yet, others only a post or two. The site is ran by WordPressMU. I’ve also added the list-all plug-in which lists all the blogs on the front page of the site, it also prioritizes the list, so that the latest updated blog shows up first.

One thing I would like to try and do (if someone could help me) is to also on the front page have say 150 words from the latest post from the latest updated blogs. Giving students a reason to click on someone else’s blog and comment or just read. Plus I think it would be fascinating to see the different topics that are written about from 4th grade on up.

I wish we could just use edublogs.org and learnerblogs.org but it’s a connection thing here in China, and so we end up running our own install of these tools to ensure they are not blocked by the filter or earthquakes. Besides, it is a great way to keep track of multiple blogs, have them branded with our school name and easy for parents and the community to find.

My hope is that this is just the beginning, that after the Tech Fest those that have the blogs already will ‘get it’ and those who are motivated to start blogging will. I have to say the future is looking bright!

[tags]SAS, blogs[/tags]

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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. Congrats on all your accomplishments! And have a blast with David. He inspires me and makes me think every time I get the chance to talk with him!

  2. Pingback: Bump on the Blog » Congratulations to Jeff Utecht

  3. Jeff,

    FeedBurner offers a tool called Headline Animator that will “Create and customize an animated banner that cycles through your feed’s five most recent items. It’s an easy way to promote your content anywhere you can place a snippet of HTML.” I’m not sure if this is what you are looking for, or if there are other issues that might prevent you from using it, but I just came across it.

  4. Jeff it is clear that you are a very effective leader. I know how hard it is to motivate change and share a vision. You clearly lead by example but you also have managed to inspire and encourage experimentation and supported the faculty so they succeeded. Kudos to you for your leadership and vision.
    You said “We have to use the tool before we understand what it can do for us.” For me this is an important piece of the puzzle and the starting point for all change. Sharing the vision may be important but it is just so many words until we have experience of the tools! Keep up the good work!

  5. Jeff, amazing! Congrats on all of your hard work. And Justin tells me that you have a teaching load as well! Your blog and your efforts have been an inspiration. The Warlick visit will only cement your own success. I think they are “getting it” already.

  6. Pingback: The Real Power of Blogs | Blognologist

  7. I suspect that’s thereason general public want to read blog….Internet visitors generally create blogs to declare themselves or their secret views. Blog grant them same matter on the monitor screen what they specifically needed,so as the above stuffs declared it.

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