Since 2004, Edublog has sponsored awards that recognize the best blogs under a number of categories, including educational technology.
I’m a huge fan of Edublog, accurately described as “the world’s most popular education blogging service.” By partnering with WordPress to offer users incredibly powerful management tools, Edublog makes Edmodo appear even more irrelevant.
Last year, only 3,148 people voted for best educational technology blog. Such dismal turnout concerns me for several reasons. Primarily, this indicates that too few teachers and administrators are accessing such sites.
Another possibility is that too few care about education and technology in the classroom—or not enough to feel a need to be heard on this important matter.
How can bloggers change this trend?
Instead of trying to cover every new gadget and gizmo that hits the market, bloggers writing on educational technology should focus on effective pedagogical implementation—and away from fluffy, unprofessional articles that lack substance.
With 219 votes, Richard Byrne’s Free Technology for Teachers took home Edublog’s best educational technology site. Byrne boasts an impressive list of accomplishments, and I’m certain that he cares deeply for his work.
I taught for eight years at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in South Paris, ME. In the past I have also taught courses in global studies and English/ Language Arts. During that time I piloted 1:1 laptop use before the program went school-wide. I coordinated a “laptop squad” to support teachers’ use of laptops in their classrooms. I also served on a number of curriculum and assessment committees. And in 2010 I was finalist for ACTEM’s Educator of the Year award.
Bryne does have many interesting posts, including a Jan. 26 entry, “How to Manage 3rd Party Apps Accessing Your Google Account.” I also like how users can enlarge thumbnails to follow Byrne’s instructions, which he takes great care in creating.
But beyond explaining what an array of software and technology can be used for, Byrne rarely provides deeper insight. On his site, I would love to hear even more from teachers and software developers, who can speak about the tools Bryne features.
On the whole, Byrne’s blog is as a fantastic aggregator of content—but it does little to kick-start discussion about the merits and drawbacks of educational technology.
His layout also leaves much to be desired, with the right side of his homepage dedicated entirely to advertisements. I gather that such prominent placement generates added revenue, and I don’t fault Byrne for wanting to earn something for his hard work. Still, the poor placement of these ads makes his blog very uninviting.
With 212 votes, Sean J. Sweeney’s SpeechTechie earned runner-up. The line below Sweeney’s banner reads, “Looking at technology through a language lens.” Perhaps it’s the former journalist in me—and I don’t mean to sound trite—but I really think Sweeney discredits himself by using colloquial language and obvious exaggerations.
When making plane or hotel accommodations, I have to sloooooow wayyyyyy dowwwwwn to ensure that I have the right dates, so I don’t arrive someplace and have no reservation until the following day. Which I have done. At least twice. Interestingly enough, I am never late and rarely miss an appointment, but I think this is cause I am so terrified of doing so that I check everything 768 times.
Sweeney is a speech-language-pathologist who currently works in instructional technology at a middle school. He writes that SpeechTechie “is an effort to combine my two passions: fostering language development through contextualized intervention, and interactive educational technologies.” This is a great goal, and clearly Sweeney has great passion for his work.
I have a difficult time navigating Sweeney’s site, especially because every post appears on his homepage. This site would benefit greatly from at least some subcategories, and Sweeney should also consider placing his search button much more prominently. Sweeney has over 100 tags, such as “music,” “iPad,” and “apps,” but those titles are very hard to locate and don’t serve as effective navigation tools.
With 142 votes, Edutopia won third-place. I’m shocked that this amazing blog didn’t win a resounding first-place victory—not only because The George Lucas Educational Foundation sponsors it, but also because it’s superior in every aspect.
I love the fresh, sleek design, which really matters in terms of cementing credibility. But I absolutely adore the high-quality content, which includes thoughtful interviews with students, teachers and an array of educational pioneers.
Edutopia publishes stories with depth and greater meaning, and the site does significantly more than provide brief summaries. Recently, I really enjoyed reading Edutopia’s reporting on collaborative learning.
Author Matthew Davis takes the time to interview relevant sources, and he delves into how different disciplines utilize this practice. The article is also very well written, and Davis masterfully weaves reporting with appropriate commentary.
As an educational technology blogger, I wish to thank Edutopia for providing such an invaluable service.
Edutopia leads by example, and I’m happy to follow in its footstops. I wish more bloggers would do the same.
Forget about the Edublog Awards.