Virtual School Meanderings

May 18, 2009

Congress 2009: Academic Blogs – About This Blog

congressAs I mentioned in Congress 2009: Academic Blogs – Connecting People And Ideas, this week I will be blogging daily about the questions we were asked to consider by the panel moderator.  Today’s question is:

Tell us about your blog and its content. How did you get started and who is your audience?

Well, I often tell people that it is a way that I get to play with ideas related to K-12 online learning before I have to present or publish them, but that is rarely the case. The official tagline for the blog reads:

“This blog and podcast focuses upon issues pertaining to distance education within the K-12 system, specifically the use of virtual high schools.”

In the About VHSM on the right-hand navigation bar, I expand upon that description by stating:

“I post entries items about K-12 distance education (mostly online learning).  Some of these entries are my thoughts and opinions on various subjects, but it seems that most of what I post tends to be things that show up in my inbox or on some blog that I monitor (including regular features like Friday Funnies, Virtual Schooling in the News, and Blogging About…).  Beginning in mid-2008 I planned to post a monthly podcast – although that became a podcast once every so often (but my goal is still once a month).”

When you look at the actual content of my blog, you’ll find a lot of announcements and notices and newsletters from other individuals – mainly things that appear in my e-mail or things I find in my RSS reader or on Facebook.  I decided to start doing this part back in the late summer or early fall because I realized that I was connected into a variety of sources that many others weren’t, so I could be a conduit for all of those kinds of items.  I also post announcements related to the academic things I find, for example listing the K-12 online learning presentations at up-coming conferences that I am aware of or providing the citation and abstract (and sometime a commentary) on recent articles that have been published.  This function is largely provided because their isn’t a single research organization for the field of K-12 online learning, so we publish in a variety of places and attend many different conferences, and this blog can serve as a clearinghouse for as much of that material as I am able to find.  I guess the final thing I try to do with this blog is to provide some of my own commentary on many of these items.  It is kind of funny in that this is task that I enjoy doing the most, the real reason I started the blog (so to speak), and the thing that folks seem to get the most out of; but it is also the most time consuming and the one I get to do the least.

I started this blog in March 2005 after having a Skype conversation with Nathan Lowell.  Nate was someone I met at my first Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) convention. At the time, Nate was managing his own blog (several if I recall), and I created Breaking into the Academy (which I have since ceased to update) and joined a group of folks who were discussing organization change as it related to AECT and how we could use some of these Web 2.0 tools to better serve the members of AECT (I should note that those discussions went no where, as we are four years later and AECT is still as arcane as ever when it comes to its electronic services – but that’s another topic for another day (and likely another blog)).  At the same time I created what I described then as a research blog – largely because my main attachment to virtual schooling and K-12 online learning was as a researcher.

When I first start, I was mainly trying to research others who had an interest in the research related to virtual schooling and K-12 online learning.  In those early days, I would often e-mail a link of each of my entries to a bunch of people – primarily university researchers or evaluators – to try and generate discussion about these ideas.  However, as time went on I began to post about more – non-research – focused things and my readership expanded in kind.  Right now I would say that my audience would include those who are involved in or have an interest in distance education at the K-12 level.  I would imagine this would involve many folks who teach or are administrators at virtual schools, cyberschools, and other K-12 distance education programs and (based on my statistics) primarily located in the United States and Canada.  I would also imagine that my original audience of K-12 online learning researchers and evaluators are still there.  I would like to think that this blog has come across the radar screen of policy makers (and I do know of some specific instances where I have been contacted by or have met in person with Government folks who referenced my blog, so that is a distinct possibility).

At the end of the day, I realize that I am one of the few blogs out there focused on K-12 distance education so I have the choice to be kind of general in nature and provide a little something for as many different groups of people as possible or to be more specific in what I post and have less appeal.  For a long time I chose the latter, however, even thoughit is more time consuming I am enjoying the former much more.


  1. […] from the session at the 2009 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences is available at About This Blog. Leave a […]

    Pingback by EDGE 2010 Blog Panel: Tell Us About Your Blog « Virtual School Meanderings — October 4, 2010 @ 8:01 am | Reply

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