Following last week’s publishing of EdTech: Focus on Higher Educaton’s Top 50 Must-Read IT Blogs of 2014, we chatted with a few of the bloggers that topped the list.
Steve Wheeler’s blog, Learning with 'e’s, made our roster this year after delivering a consistent barrage of learning technology blogs.
In just a few questions, we learned a little bit more about what makes Wheeler’s blog tick.
EDTECH: Please describe the theme of your blog.
WHEELER: My blog does what it says on the can. It's all about learning using technology. Some of my content is satirical, such as the post I wrote about the introduction of the pencil into schools or about my personal encounters, such as "Learning from the legends". Most of the content on my blog is serious academic content but with a twist — I try to present my writing in a conversational style and in a way that presents an idea or a concept or a theory in a bite-sized piece that is no longer than 300–400 words. I always use an evocative image of some kind to illustrate the post, too.
EDTECH: What made you want to start writing your blog?
WHEELER: I started writing because I wanted a space to create and evolve my own ideas as well as a commentary on the ideas of others. I have always been passionate about learning — well, ever since I left school, anyway. This passion is now my work, and my blog is an inseparable part of my professional practice. Coupled with my social media channels, my blog provides me with my creative space where I can express myself and also engage with readers. My thoughts are often abstract, but once I have written them down and then reflected, edited, polished and posted them in the form of a short blog post, my thoughts have crystallized, and they are clearer to me.
EDTECH: Do you interact with your readers?
WHEELER: Of course. If I didn't, what would be the point of the blog? Some of the best conversations I have come from interacting with readers on my blog. Often, I have had to delete comments because they are spam; but other than that, anything goes, even if the comment is insulting. If someone is unnecessarily rude to me, that's their problem, and it says more about them than it does about me or the content I'm publishing. Publishing their rude comments on the blog often exposes them for who they are to a large audience, and I am comfortable with letting others make up their own minds about what is acceptable behavior online.
EDTECH: From your perspective, what's the biggest technological challenge higher education institutions face today?
EDTECH: Read any other IT-related blogs?
WHEELER: Yes, regularly, including those by Tony Karrer, David Hopkins and Oliver Quinlan, but also my students. Many of my students blog regularly. I encourage them to do so, because if it works for me and I benefit in my professional life as a result, it will work for them, too.