Being ‘against’ the edublog awards… wait… what?

So I had full intention of ignoring this issue, but it’s simply become too interesting to not discuss a little bit. I’ve also noticed, upon re-reading this post, that I’m a little biased. I beg forgiveness, as I (and others) worked hard on this event, and we do it, for the largest part, for the fun of contributing.

There have been any number of folks who are creating identity by being ‘against’ the edublog awards. There are any number of bits of social commentary hidden inside this expression alone, and in the number of comments as well, but I’ll confine my deconstruction to the discussion held at Doug Belshaw’s blog and while I was going to comment on Downes’ comment on oldaily, the points seem essentially the same. The point here is to assess why people feel the need to be ‘against’ the awards instead of simply not liking them. Why, given the long tail metaphor that most of us like, should people who blog about education feel the need to be ‘against’ something (a duality, usually) rather than observing it as a different cross-section of the community to which they don’t belong.
Doug’s post details three reasons for which he is ‘against’ the edublog awards. I’ll lay out each of his three posts with a little deconstruction along with it.

1. They foster competition instead of collaboration and co-operation

Doug makes a comparison between the Edublog Awards and graded courses that end in a final exam. And claims that, much like these courses, students are encouraged to be competitive rather than collaborative. Well… lets give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he meant to include the idea that the exam course was ‘scaled’ and that not all students could get the top grade. This presumes a monolithic edublog ‘club’ in which the part of the community interested in voting plays the role of teacher, and, given an agreed set of ‘objectives’, that all year that group is measuring wether or not each blog is being ‘popular’ (or say populist) enough to make the ‘top grade’.
In here, also, is the presumption that everyone who was voted for is somehow in this for the award and is just trying to ‘make the grade’ rather than blogging for whatever reason they might be doing so.

So far we seem to have identified a cabal, a populist set of critireon assuring high grades, and a subservient group of bloggers who are ‘blogging to the test’. I don’t think that Doug would agree that he meant this… but these things seem implied to me. If it ‘creates competition’ then the bloggers must be effected… those bloggers are educators, like Doug. Yet Doug and the many who agree with him are not affected. This seems to create a distinction between ‘bloggers who blog all year in order to get an edublog award’ and those that ‘don’t feel the need to do this.’

Who are these bloggers so affected by the Edublog awards? When we take ‘imaginary people who blog to be graded’ down to real cases, it starts to sound a little more insulting. I don’t think that I’m one… and Edtechtalk did win one this year. In the 2 or 3 hundred hours I poured into that community this year (i really have no idea… alot) I don’t think a single decision was affected by my ‘desire to win’. I think it’s quite gratifying to some people in the community that we won… although I never heard any campaigning on the network. I’m sure there are others who don’t care much… haven’t heard from them.

2. They’re promoted by people who have vested interests
For this point, the fact that Josie and James are consultants is apparently the critical issue. (No mention of me or Jeff, Jokay, or the jokadians who worked so tirelessly to build all that cool SL stuff, so maybe our intentions were pure) More specifically, they are being paid as educators who aren’t in a traditional institution. (Interesting note here, one of Josie’s main areas of work as a consultant over the last 18 months has been trying to improve awareness about bullying on the internet.)
I notice that Doug is using a wordpress blog at dougbelshaw.com and this seems like a really great example of how things that are given away for free (wordpress is free blog hosting software, I also use it here) and mostly made by people who are paid to work in software. Should we boycott wordpress because the people who created the software are paid programmers? My friends who develop drupal modules are betting paid consultants for their success. If Lullabot (a drupal consulting company) were to organize and award list… should we be ‘against’ it? How many bloggers out there are not paid, in some way, in the education sphere? I’m a paid consultant, and my participation in edtechtalk has resulted in paying contracts… conference presentations and wonderful prizes (well… maybe not that), but that’s not why I participate. (see Terry Freedman’s “Everyone has a vested interest” in the comments.)
And, as for Warlick’s tip jar, that’s a great idea. But, I believe, he also makes money as a consultant besides. And good on ‘im.

Money, in some people’s minds, poisons everything. Those people in the dirty business of earning it are not to be trusted… by extension, if they were not making money, they would be ‘more’ trustworthy. There is a definite division here between ‘real’ educators and ‘capitalists’ involved in education for purely monetary reasons. I’ve never understood this division, and why Josie should somehow get grouped in with Blackboard because she, occasionally (and not in this case) gets paid for her time devoted towards bettering education.

3. It’s very easy to rig them
Agreed. But, then, every award since the dawn of time has been, in some sense, rigged. This seems to be about being ‘against’ awards generally. In terms of campaigning for votes? If I campaign to have people vote for me, I have claimed a particular kind of identity… it says something about me. What that is, will change depending on who you are. I can understand people saying they don’t like it… but by what standard would people feel the need to claim that this is ‘wrong’.

I’m not sure if this is the ‘i don’t like what’s popular’ popular angle or not… it may just be the thing that was put because Doug wanted three things.

Comments
There are some very interesting comments my favourite being from Karl Goddard, who I sincerely hope was joking with his comment “I’m a doer rather than a blogger”… As if all that is done in the bloggosphere is the recycling of the rest of the bloggosphere. This is my favourite identity move, but, of course, he’s saying he doesn’t like blogging… not the edublog awards.

I’ve gotten this off my chest and managed to clear my mind about how I feel about this. Sadly, if you’ve gotten this far it’s probably because you agreed with me to begin with…

It is only natural I suppose, for people to identify themselves around events of import… in a sense it shows that, to some people, the edublog awards must mean something. I think this was my fourth one… and to me it’s a yearly top ten list, some time trying to put together a show that people will enjoy, and some new avenues for exploration… I guess I am ‘for’ the edublog awards. :)

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15 thoughts on “Being ‘against’ the edublog awards… wait… what?

  1. I like the edublog awards but someone on Twitter did point out that it would be just as effective without the hierarchy and voting and I think they’ve a fair point there. I like the focus on sites and bogs and activity generally – a list from the community about the community under different sections without anything else would be just as good I reckon. But it’s been a good lively debate nevertheless :)

  2. It’s a societal performance either way. I’m not sure it would be ‘just as effective’ it would be different, and that other thing happens all the time. There is something to be said for laying aside the ‘prom queen’ mentality we’ve inherited from the post war west… but I’d like to think that the awards are tongue ‘n cheek enough to poke fun at themselves as much as ‘reward the ‘winners”. Primarily… they’re fun for those who participate. Like (spoiler alert) the invention of a mythical fatman who brings presents in order to create ‘wonder’ we have the invention of ‘supposedly’ important prizes to generate ‘excitement’. As long as everyone is in on it, and everyone realizes that while the admiration is genuine, the format is staged… then all is well.

  3. Good post and good points.
    As someone who was nominated both last year and this year (in different categories), I felt mixed on the matter — I was honored that anyone bothered to read my blog and then felt strongly enough to nominate me, and yet, it seemed odd to pick out just a few from the many great sites out there.
    So, I see both sides of the coin, and I guess I am OK with that, too. We can have some dichotomy in the world.
    Overall, I liked that I found new blogs and new links to follow through the nominating process. Anytime we can uncover a new colleague or resource … that’s a good day.
    Take care,
    Kevin

  4. Is there some place where those of us who don’t give a shit can register our non-opinions? On second thought, I don’t care enough to even register my non-opinion about this non-event. :)

  5. I do thank you for writing your post……..

    but I still stand by my wish that they take away the 1st, 2nd, 3rd ratings unless there is a way to not “rig” the awards with people who are able to tilt in their favor.

    and I really do like the fact that this year there were so many new people/blogs/wikis/etc to check out to see what they share.

    Jen

  6. Thanks for the reasoned blog response, Dave. :-)

    You ask why I have to be ‘against’ the awards rather than just ‘not liking’ them. It’s because I don’t think they’re good for the health of the edublogosphere (if such a thing still exists). Just like opponents to smoking in public places felt the need to be ‘against’ it – because of a health threat – so I’m against these awards.

    I’ve got NO problem with people getting public recognition and thanks for their work. I just questin the format and wonder whether it doesn’t lead to distortion.

    My suggestion? Have a worldwide ‘Edublog day’ where educational bloggers blog about 5 blogs to which they want to draw their readers’ attention. Why on earth do we need a voting process?

  7. LOL. but that kinda is the point isn’t it… why is it a negative opinion. The internet gives us so much access, and the ability to publish so much, that we feel the need to publish something about something we don’t care about. Imagine if you wrote something about everything in you home town that you didn’t care about. Lets take the School Christmas pageant. Would you post 6 “i don’t care”s one for each elementary school class? Well… maybe some of you do :) and it would be funny… just not to some of the kids. Now, on the other hand, there are some very interesting points to explore about this kind of thing… What I’m talking about is tone and identity. Saying “i find it interesting that people feel the need to call all their friends and get them to vote, it might be because they want to use this award to leverage their career… actually, I emailed Vicki Davis and asked her why… and she said it was because it got her students very excited (I didn’t, this is just an example, and vicki said on doug’s blog that she had asked people to vote for her)”

    This is an important issue… it brings up how we use winning in our classrooms all the time, even though we claim we try not to… It’s collaborative victory, but really just a moved pattern, not one we’ve gotten rid of… it also has the potential to create… blah blah blah. Why “i’m against it” when it is such a nice platform for interesting discussion?

  8. But you can have that Doug… just organize it. Why does it need to be ‘one thing’? Why the duality? And no, I don’t think that the Edublog Awards are like smoking in public places… or that the edublogosphere ‘exists’ or has ever beyond the many different ways in which people use that word…

    Your comment here is a nice microcosm of what I’m talking about.
    1. first one… thanks. Not sure if you’re being sarcastic but, text is a weird medium :)
    2. This is the part that I find worrying, discussed below.
    3. Question is good, would like to hear more about what you mean by distortion and what it is that is being distorted
    4. This is a great idea, and the response to the question is that it generates excitement… and running events is based on excitement.

    Do you want to police this perceived ‘edublogsphere’ so that it conforms to your ideals. How would you know if your view is sufficiently complex for ALL of us to follow? Why should we have only one set of ideals? Are you sure that competition is bad?

    Your questioning of the format is great. Question it! It deserves it! Work on it (or something else) to bring about the vision that you are interested in. But your post did not critique the edublog awards, it was an identity performance of your personal beliefs against “competition”, “money” and the “idea of awards”. Hence my response.

  9. Where exactly did I say I ‘didn’t like blogging’?

    I said I tend to be too busy sourcing, developing and implementing ed tech resources to be able to actually sit down and write blog posts on subjects that have already been blogged about numerous times.

    I could write endless posts or tweets about every single thing I do as part of my digital life, but I choose not to – as I generally don’t have the time to do so.

    ergo the comment I’m a doer rather than a blogger.

    So please in future post a direct quote from any comments I make and don’t make something up, which you clearly have done by stating I don’t like blogging.

  10. My interpretation of your comment on my blog… is that you don’t like blogging. I do a fair amount of “sourcing, developing and implementing” and find that blogging and “twittering every part of my digital life” actually makes me more efficient, because it avoids duplication… Community building being one of the key outcomes of blogging. Being open to critique is another one of those… and, clearly, you don’t like mine. (fairly, though, there are lots of others you might be quite open to)

    Interpretations are made up, in a sense, but they are mine to make up. I quoted you and then interpreted. And, if I find your comments somewhere again, will do so in exactly the same manner. :)

  11. You’re ‘critique’, as you put it, was grossly inept.

    I am not ‘against’ the vast majority of all things ed tech, including blogging. I actively promote blogging with my school and other schools in my LA.

    To make such a comment as ‘he doesn’t like blogging’ is taking interpretation to the extreme and I do take that as a personal insult to the work I have done promoting new technologies over the past 7 years with primary, secondary and FE establishments.

    In fact I’d have to say your tabloid level ‘interpretation’ of what I posted was possibly only intended to give your original viewpoint a touch of credibility. Considering you simply made something up, leaves me with a very low opinion of your abilities to make objective commentary on others views.

    To clear things up for you, as you seem unable to do so for yourself, I am not ‘against’ blogs. I just can’t see the value or point in Edublog awards – I am not against them either.

    Finally, feel to pass comments on any future posts I make. I’ll happily keep pulling you up if you misquote me / plainly lie again.

    Should you wish to correspond, I’ll welcome your email(s).

  12. Hi Karl,

    Thanks for your response. Your judgment on my skill level is noted, but I don’t think that I was claiming that my interpretation of your comment was qualitatively good, but, rather, that I had quoted you exactly and then interpreted it in my own way. Which, I believe, to be the soul of blogging.

    I expect the ‘value’ that people receive from my postings to be different depending on their point of view and willingness to adapt to my particular idiom. I thank you for providing me with the far extreme (so far) of those who don’t like it.

  13. Get over it, Karl. Admittedly, I haven’t read every post and every comment on the Edublog awards, and find the entire discussion about whether we need to have awards for educational blogging to be pointless.

    But based on your comment on Doug’s post, I too would interpret that as a criticism of educational blogging. In your comment, you are implying that there are people in the blogosphere who are so busy writing about the same old things that they don’t bother to try to implement any of the ideas/tools/resources/etc, and that you’re not one of them. You’re dismissing the edublog awards as a back-patting party for a small group of people who constantly recycle the same old thing.

    I don’t have a problem with that opinion. But Dave’s conclusion that you don’t like blogging, or, perhaps better put, that you don’t see the value in edublogging, is a valid one based on that comment. Based on the dismissive tone in your comment, I find it hard to reach any other conclusion.

  14. Karl,

    I think Dave likes to be provocative. It is why so many people follow him and read his blogs – he likes the conversation. Get him going on “One Laptop Per Child” sometime. Your conversation with him probably resulted in more followers for you also.
    :-)

  15. John, Gary… firstly ‘Hi’ to you both :) Don’t know either of you but thanks for your take / comments on my post(s).

    My point with Dave is, to give a loaded example, if I were to say ‘I don’t like the Oscars, I find them to be a load of old claptrap’ could one infer that I didn’t like movies just because I don’t like film industry awards?

    No. One would be an idiot for making that assumption.

    Dave, from his ‘interpretation’ of my post, falls into that category for blindly (and quite wrongly) second guessing what the orientation of my post was. Several other folks have called me out via email for the post I made and I gave them my reasoning behind my post. They seemed satisfied with my response – new edu-tech friends have been made and all is well with the world again :)

    I still object to someone who neither knows me or any of the work I do to make such a rash comment as ‘Karl, clearly doesn’t like blogging’.

    That is just simply nonsense. But he’s entitled to his opinion – I called him out on it -I invited him to discuss the points I made via email… my Gmail inbox is still sans Cormier.

    To reiterate, I *personally* can’t see any true ‘value’ in the Edublogs awards and I’m VERY strongly in favour of Belshaw’s suggestion (see his post for his ideas). As a side note I also don’t really favour most ‘awards’ ceremonies – but that’s just me :)

    I love edu tech. I love blogs. I promote the use of blogs for educational purposes… hell I’m even spending Christmas Day arguing my point on a blog and earlier today took time out from cooking Christmas lunch to set up another blog for a Year 10 and Year 11 Art project ready for next term.

    Not bad going for blogging Luddite, eh?:)

    And to qualify my comments of edu blogging in general… I find there is a lot of duplication on edublogs. One guy Tweets about a ‘new tool’ he’s found… a week later and there’s 20 blog posts on what this ‘new tool’ does by the guys who follow him on Twitter. If Dave wants to call me out on that comment, I’ll back up my opinion with evidential posts from multiple blogs on the same subject within a short time frame.

    Anyway, that’s as much reiteration and clearing up as I’m willing to participate in for one year. Thank God 2009 is only a week away then!!

    Merry Christmas Garry and John!

    Dave sling an email over to me if you’re up to it (only joking! Merry Christmas, mate)

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