Image cc license by Aussiegal on Flickr
Is it that time already? The nominations for the tenth Edublog Awards are here. I know. 10!! It seems like just yesterday that we were all geekily setting up our first ‘web logs’.
Why the Edublog Awards matter
The Edublog Awards are organized annually by the good people at Edublogs and fondly known as the “eddies”. Although I agree with some of the critics that it can be a bit of a popularity contest and it doesn’t have the geographical and network spread we might want, I still wholeheartedly support the “eddies” for a few reasons.
1. Transferrable recognition
For people who are doing work out on the edges, early adopters, it can often be difficult to find recognition within their organization. Although they are appreciated by their online peers, those metrics (comments, tweets, etc) rarely translate back into their organization. However, getting an award does. It is a concept that has value in both of the organizational and the networked world of an educator’s practice.
And that effect spreads. Even those who aren’t nominated can benefit when an expert they follow, a community they participate in, a tool they use, an unconference they attend or a practice they practice, is publicly recognized.
2. Don’t underestimate the effect of an Edublog Award on a recipient or their audience
Many early adopters work in isolation and against the grain in their organization. This can be lonely, even when you have networked support from other bloggers and tweeters at a distance. For me, getting the award for the Moodle Tool Guide for Teachers encouraged me to tell myself: “See, I’m not crazy. I’ll just keep going.” And going back to point 1, it was at that point that my organization included my work for our marketing materials and pushed me at local press. I also started to be invited to international conferences which in the end even resulted in my moving countries.
3. A crowd curated uber-FollowFriday
Each year’s list of nominees and winners forms a great jumping off point for discovering new colleagues, new projects and new ideas. Curated, distilled and endorsed by the educational crowd, you know that you won’t be wasting your time delving into any of their work.
4. The timing is perfect.
It’s the end of the year, whether you’re in the Northern hemisphere and breaking for the holidays, or in the Southern hemisphere and breaking for the holidays and summer and getting ready for a new academic year. That means you are realizing that some of those things on your to-do-list will simply not get done, and that frees up space in your head. I’m sure you’ll start feeling the creativity bubble very soon. That is the perfect time to jump into the treasure trove of new ideas, cognitive tools and practice examples that you can find in the nominations. Open up your notebook or Evernote and start plotting for next year, filled with fresh inspiration.
5. A retrospective of our practice
We all know our work practice has changed dramatically but going back through the lists of previous years finalists really brings it home. Unfortunately the blog posts don’t go back before 2006, but remember 2006? Pre-tablets, pre-Twitter, pre-Instagram? We couldn’t stop talking about wikis…
My Edublogs daydream
Having said that, I would like to think that after 10 years the time is ripe for the Edublog Awards to take the next step and truly become global, recognizing emerging practice in education around the world. To do so, we would need:
- More descriptive criteria for each category.
- Simpler nomination and voting systems that have a social layer.
- The Edublog Awards should totally be awarded as open badges (this one is easy and can still be done this year!)
- I’d love to see a Curator and Curation board category
- Wider participation, including the addition of regional nominations. I for one would love to see the nominees from Africa and South America.
- The addition of sponsored awards in specialized categories. I’m sure there are vendors out there who could provide an educator or organization with a small grant or donation, in return for the exposure.
- Collaboration with larger global organizations (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation? Mozilla?)
- And to formalize and achieve the above goals, the organizers could put together a Board of Advisors made up of past award recipients.
Just my daydream…
My #eddies13 nominations
Until then, here are my 2013 champions among the many champions that I follow and read and share with every day. Much love from me to all of you!
Best group blog: The ThesisWhisperer blog.
Dr. Inger Mewburn‘s blog has supported and encouraged thousands of PhD students. She writes prolifically on the blog, but also uses it as a platform for other voices and the comments sections frequently turn into lively debate halls. It is everything a blog can be, a focal point for a community.
Best open PD/unconference/webinar: the iMoot conference.
Ok this is one I didn’t actually attend this year, but I heard SO much about it after the fact that I am going to nominate it anyway. The iMoot Conference about everything Moodle has been organized for the last few years by the lovely Pukunui people. I have attended and been a speaker in the past, and right from the first one it has been a marvel.
The conference is fully online and goes around the clock and around the globe for 3-5 days. The speakers come from the incredibly engaged Moodle community and the program is put together and facilitated by ringmaster Julian ‘the Moodleman’ Ridden. All sessions run twice in different time brackets to account for timezones. Held over a weekend, I’ve always been impressed with how much it feels like a real conference. You attend the sessions you are interested in, and in between you talk to people in the ‘virtual hallways’, on Skype, on Twitter and in the Moodle forums provided.
However the one thing every one kept buzzing about this year is how successfully the conference used ‘open badges‘. This function had only just been released in Moodle, but at every event or conference I’ve attended since, participants keep mentioning how much they learned and engaged with others because of this. Bravo Pukunui!
Best free web tool: Mozilla’s Open Badges
I have already mentioned the Open Badges a few times but I cannot get over the truly revolutionary and far reaching the work that the small Open Badges team at Mozilla are doing. And it’s all out there for anyone to engage with and build on it further. I won’t go into all the details why I love this project. I’ll just share two artefacts from two of the inspiring team members I’ve had the privilege to meet and learn from this year.
Carla Casilli’s blog post on badge pathways really stretched my brain and brought home to me the effect open badges can have in personalizing lifelong learning.
And the clarity of Doug Belshaw‘s presentations has been indispensable in talking to others about badges.
Best mobile app: Evernote
Evernote is the most versatile notetaking tool out there, it syncs across all platforms, accommodates all media and has great extensions, made by the company itself and by third parties, letting you scan business cards to your contacts and handdraw notes. And now they have just gone and made it collaborative.
Evernote can go from small to big. Use it on your smartphone during your tram ride, use it on your tablet for writing, use it for an impromptu presentation at a meeting from any pc by accessing it in the cloud. Whether you are a teacher, a researcher, a librarian, an edtech or a manager, if you are not using Evernote yet, you are depriving yourself.
Give some love
Those are my nominations for this year. All nominations need to be in on Sunday 1 December 2013, so you’ve still got time to give some love to those who have brightened your educational year. And did I mention you can also nominate individual tweeters…