Posted by: Mark Lewis | March 1, 2011

About Blogging and Edublogs: An Interview with Sue Waters

Sue Waters has been one of the prime movers in the development of Edublogs, working with James Farmer, Edublogs’ founder, to shape a global weblog community for educators.  As Community Manager for Edublogs, she does outreach to various constituencies on using technology in learning and writes for several related blog sites including The Edublogger , Edublogs’ resource site on using blogs in education and her own Sue Waters blog on Web 2.0 technologies and elearning.

As we launch Edublogs at UMass Boston, I wanted to know more from Sue’s insider perspective about the company and Sue’s own experience with blogging in education, so I arranged a phone interview.

Here are my questions and Sue’s responses:

Sue Waters

1. Tell us a little about Edublogs and its mission.

Edublogs was founded by James Farmer in July, 2005. At the time he was an academic supporting online education at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia.  His goal was to get people out of the closed, walled environments of Learning Management systems (LMS) (such as WebCT and BlackBoard) and open up their learning by means of blogging.  He started initially by setting up blogs for people using individual WordPress installs.  When the opportunity arose to offer people the ability to set up blogs all by themselves came along he set up using a domain name he already owned. Nowadays Edublogs is part of a series of companies that specialize in developing, supporting and running some of the largest blog networks in the World. Edublogs is about making blogging for teachers and students easy while helping and supporting through the process.

2. How did you get your start as a blogger?

I’m sure those that are glad I’m a blogger would be totally surprised to learn I initially struggled with the concept of blogging.   My reaction to blogs in 2006 was “Why anyone would blog and why would anyone read blogs?”   By April 2007, that all changed.  Frustrated by aspects that my podcast and wiki site lacked I decided to set up a blog.  Through blogging I discovered I was able to reflect on what I was learning far more than I’d ever been able to achieve while it increased my ability to help, collaborate, exchange ideas, and connect with others. Rest is really history.   My work came to the attention of James Farmer (Edublogs) who initially hired me to write two posts per week on The Edublogger, which eventually led to being full time employed by Edublogs.

3. What are some of the biggest changes that have occurred in blogging in the last 3-4 years?

Each year we’re observing:

  • Increased numbers of educators using blogs with students
  • Less blocking of Web 2.0 technologies as institutions and districts are gaining a better understanding of the value of these technologies
  • More educational organizations taking  a coordinated approach to supporting blogging within their institutions

4. As I learned from the Edublogs website, you work with a growing number of K-12 teachers. What is it about blogging that appeals to them?

Blogging appeals to the K-12 sector for similar reasons to why I originally started blogging.

They’ve discovered that blogging:

  • Changes how you learn
  • Motivates students to improve reading and writing literacy skills
  • Provides students with the ability to express their own thoughts and opinions
  • Helps them connect with a global audience
  • Provides them with a mechanism to collaborate with classes in other countries and with experts

There is some really amazing blogging happening in the K-12 sector.  Surprisingly often the most incredible work is being done by the younger students.  You can’t help but feel inspired by a teacher like Kathleen Morris who believes you are never too young to learn or empower student to learn skills themselves.   And Rhiannon, a Grade 2 student from her class, proves it by demonstrating you’re never too young to teach your readers how to write HTML. Or be inspired by posts like those on Grace’s blog, from a writer who shares her thoughts on important global issues.


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