Well, today is the last work day in the month of August. It has been a month filled with travel, events, and writing. All of these things have shifted my perspective a bit and given me new reasons to be energetic about starting another academic year. The month was kicked off by my own, self-imposed, One Post a Day challenge that a bunch of others took up. That in and of itself was surprising, the fact that I am now writing the final entry in my August challenge is stunning. When I set out, I was fully prepared for the reality that I couldn’t pull it off … I think deciding ahead of time made it feel more improbable. With a little perspective, I’d like share some things that I’ve discovered along the way.
Including this post, I’ve written 22 individual entries here at this blog this past month. I actually posted a few more over at my PSU Blog during the month as well. 22 entries is the most I’ve ever done in a month — but not by many (I actually had more a couple of months, but those numbers were inflated by the import of class blogs). It surprised me to dig through my archives and see that I was writing quite a bit in 2007 — actually getting close to a post a day on a few occasions. I think what made this different was that I was joined by other people and it felt like a community activity.
There have been 93 comments contributed this month … this is perhaps the best part! Of course some of them are by me and I think I learned something early this month about sustaining conversations … I learned that I have to be an active participant in the comment stream if I want it to stay alive. Too many times I write and wait for comments … one or two trickle in and I don’t engage those people. It appears to me that when I actively respond to comments it really does generate new comments. I’d like to add that I also got one comment via email that pushed me through the last week when my travel got crazy. I won’t share who it was from as I didn’t seek permission, but I’ll share the comment … BTW, it made the month worth it!
“Before I acquiesce to the demands of another semester I want to send a quick thanks for One Post a Day. It’s been a staple of my daily blog diet. You added an important, needed dimension to my summer thoughts.”
Now, when I started I had established some rules for myself to follow … the most important to me was that I wouldn’t mail it in and just post a link, instead working hard to share insights that are related somehow to the things I do on a professional level. I think I accomplished that — for the most part. I admit to having a few really difficult days finding my voice as it relates to educational technology. Some days it just doesn’t flow. I opted once or twice to offer more personal reflections and I allowed those through. I hope it didn’t offend.
I found that there were times that I couldn’t resist writing … in other words, there were days when I would write four or five posts and force myself to time release them. I would write and use the tools in WordPress to auto publish posts at the right day and time. One nice by product of that is if you set the publish date into the future, the post is available on the iPhone app for editing. That made it very nice while traveling. The other thing it did was give me a chance to more completely explore a thread … early in the month I was hooked on the idea that the cloud was supporting much of my work. Writing a handful of posts in a row gave me the ability to write more of a story (chapter style) and really explore my thinking. I’m not sure, looking back, if the connected posts over a few days were more appreciated by readers than the seemingly random topics that emerged as the month wore on.
Finally, as I stated in an earlier post, there have been some strange outcomes. I’ve felt more balanced as a person — spending more time focused on my health, family, and other responsibilities outside the office. I’ve found that writing in a consistent way gives me a place to retreat to. I am not the kind of person who take a lot of time to write and edit posts — I would say I spend no more than 10-20 minutes writing and posting each one of these entries. But doing it everyday has driven me (in a positive way) to reflect in an ongoing way … thinking about my ideas for a longer period of time as I walk through my days. I like the way its made me feel.
The funny thing is that I hadn’t checked my google analytics until just now and I have to say I am a bit stunned at the increase in daily traffic … I guess it stands to reason, but fresh content really does bring people in. I wonder what that would do to a course site that was using our Blogs at Penn State? If we as instructors posted everyday would we see increased contributions from our students and the world in general? I’m not sure, but it may be worth finding out. So, with all that I say thank you! Thank you to all those who left comments, showed up to read, urged me on via face to face conversations, or took part in the challenge. The whole thing has left me with new energy and new questions to explore. I know for a fact I won’t be publishing once a day from here on out, but I do know that I will be having critical conversations with colleagues who are teaching using blogs … there are new things to explore and I am excited to do so. Talk to you sometime in September!