I believe I have blogged for almost 15 years now.
Blogging is a weird thing.
When I first blogged, completely on my own at JeffPresents.com, I had a readership of….I have absolutely no idea. I was really just starting to speak regularly and blogged because people would ask, “where do you blog?” following a keynote or workshop. But I had no idea what to write about, nor what people cared to read about.
By the time I started blogging as a Director and eventually CAO at eCollege, I started to get some strategic thinking from a marketing department, some outstanding colleagues, and from even more keynote / workshop audiences. In fact, using the best tools we had at the time, I had a readership of roughly 1,000 - 1,500 people back in 2007. I felt good about that.
By the time I started blogging for Pearson, more than a decade as a professor and traveling 250,000 miles a year to speak with audiences around the globe, things really took off. By 2012, I found myself as a “Top 100 Influencer in Online Learning.” For those of you who know what this means, I had a 39 Reach; 22 Resonance; and 27 Relevance score.
I took that blogging credibility to Saint Leo University. I pushed every possible reader to follow me both before I left and after I started at the school, but found that professors and administrators who blog need a platform like Educause or the Chronicle or OLC. Without it, like a clanging bell, I fell into the cacophony of noise that is edu-bloggers. I hadn’t realized that I could be a lot more “controversial” when at a company as educators could play with my stuff like mental gymnastics, not overly concerned because my frustrations or problems could easily be categorized as someone who was “out of the loop.” Being an Adjunct Faculty member didn’t matter much. But once I became a University person, despite communicating about exactly the same things, just from the inside, the message became far more real and I lost readership as a result.
Which brings us to today. I have been blogging steadily for almost a year under the banner of the Institute. I have put something out every week, regardless of holiday or vacation. I have tweeted reminders and told LinkedIn followers to check out the issues and problems highlighted in these blogs. I have called out serious problems with the academy, with teaching and learning, and with culture. I have watched as our sector has taken on new attackers, very serious attackers, adding politics and gender and race and harassment and other monumental issues to our plates, forcing problems with teaching and learning to the back-seat (and possibly the trunk).
I mentioned at the start that blogging is weird. Experts suggest it takes 2-3 years for a blogger, even a blogger who has moved to a new outlet, to reach “critical mass” in their work, their voice, and with readership. Again, I have used the best tools available to see my readership starting to come back, which is encouraging. But the pace…oh, the pace! It’s so hard for an “innovator” to handle.
Which brings me to 2019. For the first time in my blogging career, I am not going to blog about resolutions. We all know what a fool’s errand they are, seeing less than 1% actually stick. At the same time, I don’t plan to blog about what 2019 will bring. Look over last year’s higher education articles and blogs and you’ll see exactly what to expect in 2019. Just more of the same.
No, I plan to keep on keeping on. Teaching and learning is too important. We can’t let the distractions take away our ability to transform and change the actual mission of education. There is simply too much at risk.
That doesn’t mean I won’t try some new stuff. I plan to. I am finally back on track (after a decade of “on-again / off-again” conversations with publishers) Io publish a book on learning. It won’t be like anyone thought - kind of an end-around - but the context will afford me more leeway as well as a very pragmatic take on how to create learning. Don’t worry, I still have the other two books (one on Education 3.0 and one on Educational Innovation) at the ready. I’ve written hundreds of pages already, keeping detailed notes at every stop along the way, but also staying firmly in tune with the best writers and thinkers of educational / pedagogical vision. Those will come in due time. But in the meantime, I hope to blog through some of the new book’s concepts. You’ll see them if you check back.
But my promise to you is this. I will remain consistent, blogging every week. I will also remain true to the mission of teaching and learning, with the tangential, in-parallel issues always dancing around better learning too. Ultimately that is what “Connectedness” is all about - connecting the things that help (or hinder) learning.
To those of you who have followed me from blog site to blog site, thank you. I will try not to let you down. For those of you who are new, I hope you go back and find some of my old stuff. It creates a nice foundation for much of what you’ll read. If you stumble upon this after hearing a keynote or workshop, I hope you’ll stay.
So here is to 2019 and my newest blog home. I hope it feels as good for you as it does for me. And most importantly, I hope it shines a light on the important, holistic factors that inform learning today.
Good luck and good learning.