Posted by: Dave Moursund
Tagged in: Staff Development
Some IAE History
I founded the not-for-profit company Information Age Education in August 2007, shortly after I became completely retired from the University of Oregon (IAE-pedia, 2007). This was my RETIREMENT PROJECT. The project began with a Wiki and free access to some of my books. I added a bimonthly newsletter in August 2008, and the IAE Blog in 2010. I now routinely use the four general publication vehicles:
- IAE-pedia, a Wiki. See http://iae-pedia.org.
- Books that I author or co-author. See http://iae-pedia.org/David_Moursund_Books.
- IAE Newsletter, a bimonthly publication. See http://iae-pedia.org/IAE_Newsletter.
- IAE Blog. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog.html.
I use the IAE Blog to share my thoughts on articles and books that I read, and on other events that I deem important in my professional life. During the past 22 months I have written about 10 blog entries per month. Readership has steadily grown, and recently has been averaging about 400 hits per day.
For me, a good IAE Blog entry topic is one that focuses on a problem that an individual teacher, parent, or other concerned person can address and contribute appreciably toward solving. I realize this is not a precise statement, so let me give some examples.
We know, for example that average family income can usually make a difference in how well children do in school. You, personally, are probably not in a position to raise the average family income of several families from the bottom 10% to the middle income range.
We know that how much young children are read to makes an appreciable difference. You, personally, might have the time to spend a half hour a day, three days a week, reading to a preschool child who lives in a home environment that provides little such personal reading attention. If you have raised children,likely you have provided this educational advantage to your own children.
As another example,we know that appropriate use of paired learning in a school setting can benefit students. If you are a teacher, you could explore this topic, experiment with paired learning in your classroom, and gather data on the results. If you experience considerable success, you might be able to convince (and help) one or more of your fellow teachers to try such an experiment.
Template for IAE Blog Entries
During the past few weeks I have developed a general format or template for the new IAE Blog entries I write. I don’t always follow the template, but it does gives me a good starting point. What follows is a 6-item outline and brief discussion of this template.
1. Title. The title is catchy, but long enough to describe the topic. (The IAE Blog system incorporates the title in the IAE Blog entry's Web address.)
2. Advance Organizer. The first paragraph serves as an advance organizer and brief introduction. Often it provides a link to something I have read or viewed recently that motivated writing the entry.
3. Main Message. This is relatively short—perhaps 150 to 250 words. Think in terms of something that can be read and briefly mulled over in two minutes or so.
4. What You Can Do. My goal in writing an IAE Blog entry is to “nudge” my readers to take some ownership of the ideas and to use them. Individually and collectively, we can improve the world. Perhaps my all time favorite quote is: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead; American cultural anthropologist; 1901–1978.)
5. Suggested Reading from IAE and Other Publications. I have set up a website location from which one can use Google to search all of the IAE publications. Go to http://pages.uoregon.edu/moursund/dave/. Click in the box that is provided, write your search terms, and click on the Search button.
At the end of each IAE Blog entry I have a section of Suggested Readings, and these tend to be mainly readings from the IAE materials. I do this as one approach to advertising the IAE publications. I figure that a person who is reading an IAE Blog entry may be interested in reading other IAE publications.
For example, readers of this IAE Blog entry may also enjoy the entry, About being a prolific writer available at http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/about-being-a-prolific-writer.html.
6. References. The IAE Blog entries are not refereed scholarly academic papers. However, neither are they like typical newspaper and magazine articles. The goal is to provide readers with references that can be used to check the validity of the entry content and to easily find follow-up information. The most important thing in a reference is to provide enough information for the reader to find the reference. I much prefer references to materials that are available free on the Web.
What You Can Do
It surprises me how few of you readers add a comment to an IAE Blog entry. The process of doing so will help your brain/mind solidify what you have just read, and it will help other readers. A “good” comment might be a brief statement about trying out an idea discussed in an entry. Tell us what worked, what did not work, and how to improve both the entry and what you tried out. Think about signing up for a free subscription to the IAE Blog. This will lead to you receiving email notification of a new entry posting. If you are a teacher of preservice or inservice teachers, design an assignment that includes having your students read several of the IAE Blog entries and/or other IAE materials, and doing some higher-order thinking and writing about the content. Get your students to subscribe to the IAE Blog as one way to experience dealing with a steady flow of new ideas.
Final Remarks for this IAE Blog Entry
IAE functions on a modest budget. It depends heavily on word of mouth advertising and on using its various publications to advertise itself. Item 4 in the IAE Blog outline is a plea to readers to make use of what they are reading. Doing so helps advance the IAE mission.
Most of the IAE Blog readers are preservice and inservice teachers, teachers of teachers, or parents with children in school. If they make use of an idea discussed in an entry, they are also apt to discuss the idea with a friend or colleague. This contributes to word-of-mouth advertising. Items 5 and 6 in the list given above are not-so-subtle approaches to self-advertising. Item 6 focuses mainly on references that can be accessed free on the Web. This supports IAE’s goal of helping to improve education at all levels and throughout the world. I feel lucky to be living at a time when so much of the collected knowledge of the human race can be accessed free on the Web.
IAE-pedia (2007). David Moursund. Retrieved 6/28/2012 from http://iae-pedia.org/David_Moursund.