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The Blue Skunk sinks in the ratings

from Onalytica June 18, 2013

I am always shocked to see the Blue Skunk mentioned in any list of popular blogs. Being popular has never been the goal of this endeavor, but simply a tool for professional reflection, sharing, and amusing myself. (See Why the Blue Skunk blog.) I know I have a readership since I am known at conferences as "the Blue Skunk guy" rather than for any of the more professional pieces I've written, and I am not quite sure how to take that either.

I don't check any statistical data related to my blog, make any effort to "improve my rankings", nor worry about the number of followers I have on Twitter, never having been much of a competitor nor needing to depend financially on any of this stuff. My pleasure comes from re-reading an old post and thinking, "Hey, that's pretty good - did I actually write that?" and thinking it may have made someone chuckle or look at education a little differently.

I struggle with any "best of" lists in education. At the heart of most of them is some commercial interest, I'm sure. Too much attention to popularity discourages beginning bloggers. And somehow it just seems antithetical for any genuine PLC for any member to try to outdo the others.

Encountering outsized egos is pretty common here at ISTE. Perhaps that is what it takes to be listened to by the masses. But I hope attendees are also going to poster sessions and breakout sessions led by the quieter, more humble voices in the field - those that have children's, not self interests, at heart.

No matter how big the ed tech fish, we're all swimming in a pretty damn small pond.

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Reader Comments (5)

Funny, one of my colleagues mentioned that about ISTE as well. I think his direct quote was something like "people walking around slapping themselves on the back." I have nothing but respect for our 2013 Young Educator from WI, and I'm sure there are plenty others like her, but ISTE seems to have a bit of a does ASCD. All I know is the only one in our house talented enough to present at a national conference is my better half...

June 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathan Mielke

You are on my must-read list!

June 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuzie Martin

Hi Doug

Interesting you should bring this up. I saw this chart a few weeks ago in a Tweet and I had a conversation with someone on Twitter (ideal for long, deep, meaningful interaction as you know...) I just simply Tweeted (in reply), "It's not the measure of your influence that counts. It's what you're influencing towards..." ... "Tyrannical despots have lots of followers too."

(To fit all that in 140 characters, I probably had to convert my spelling into hieroglyphics & hope people could decipher it but that's another story...)

I am not new or weak in using Technology. I have used machine embroidery software to turn hand-drawn pictures into raster or vector drawings and then "digitized" them so my Bernina sewing machine/computer could embroider out anything I've drawn. I won two ribbons at the Calgary Stampede for two machine-embroidered quilt projects. That's the height of computer geekiness for a stay-at-home Mom, if you ask me.

I am new at studying the philosophy of Technology Integration in Education (5 months now). (Before, I just did it and never knew it was such a big deal...Who wouldn't use a tool if she knew how to work it and what it could do? I've even taught in a 1:1 Technology school . We used technology matter-of-factly and there was no hoopla surrounding it.)

After 5 months of being in the EduTech world, it's become quite apparent that there is a line drawn in the sand (at least for me) separating two camps of people. On one side of the camp are the celebs and wannabe celebs. On the other side are those just trying to improve their teaching practice and helping others develop their teaching practice and they're content to do it authentically and be regular people about it.

I was quite chagrined when I realized that because of social media, we can have a mini-Hollywood even in the field of education. It never used to be like that in education. This new "Education Culture" is corrupting and confusing our good intentions as teachers, I believe. It creates and feed our insecurities and based on what? Based on popularity polls, Klout scores, number of followers and "mentions"? I'm not too sure whether these types of measurements are measuring anything of worth in Education. In monetary and ad-click terms, yes! In terms of what's important in education...debatable!

"Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial!" Are we wise enough to turn away from sipping the wrong cistern to feed ourselves? ...when we feel we're not being rewarded for our efforts in the classroom? ...when fellow-teachers aren't interested in our advice to help them with technology integration? ...when the respect and admiration of teachers is at an historical low? ...when no one notices all the good that we do at school? ...when our role as Tech Coach is looked upon with suspicion and push-back? Just be careful that these wounds aren't making us run to the wrong places to build back up our sense of worth.

Tell me what each website on that chart represents and what they're influencing towards and I'll pay attention.

We're trying to create a new world for our students where competition is replaced by self-motivation, self-esteem, self-evaluation. We're trying to get rid of report card scores. If we're trying to change the face of education, we need to change it FOR OURSELVES first! We can't move and exist in the very same system we're trying to get rid of for our kids.

Anyway, thanks for saying pretty much what I wanted to say when I first saw that Ranking Sheet. There are some websites (including yours) that will always be meaningful to me, no matter what the polls say. The writers have become my friends. I find time to dialogue through their blogs (by commenting on them) and that's my way of giving back to them for sharing their knowledge and ideas and their heart with me. No one can put an index number on what that is worth.


June 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVivian

Hi Nathan,

So your better half is the famous one? Somebody once said that it isn't a parade unless there are few of us sitting on the curb as well.

Hope your summer is going well,


Thanks, Suzi, for saying so. I try to write for those with discriminating tastes!

All the best,


July 2, 2013 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Hi Vivian,

For some reason, your comments keep getting caught in my blog's spam filter, and I forget to check the dumb thing. Hence the delay.

The biggest danger I see of the "celebritization" of education is when in search of more followers or higher ranks, the person writing makes more and more extreme claims and espouses ever more radical ideas. My teachers used to tell my mother that this was attention for attention's sake, I believe.

Perhaps it is my dull Midwestern roots, but I've always found the healthy decisions for kids were those that had a degree of moderation. But moderation doesn't engender many tweets, I guess.

Thanks, as always, for the thoughts,


July 4, 2013 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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