Monday, December 31

ZaidLearn Reflects Blogging and 2008!


Why did I get into blogging in the first place? I want to be famous! LOL! Actually, I realized that hardly anyone in my profession (e-learning, learning and education) knows that I exist, and after blogging for 6 months I suppose it is slightly better. Alright, here are the three (3) main reasons (including the above one!) why I started blogging:
  • Connect, learn from, and communicate with some of the great thinkers on online education today. By sharing my ideas and thoughts through tools like blogs is a great way to start the conversation (and perhaps also get a bit of recognition, appreciation and respect!). Let's face it, many of the great online education thinkers of today have their own blog(s). I suppose if they don't, I probably would not know who they are, except perhaps those I meet (not many!), or from reading their papers and books here and there.
  • Nurture my knowledge sharing mind, and make it a habit! I come across a lot of juicy resources (not always easy to find!) that I want to share with others, and blogging is a great tool to quickly and easily share resources on-the-fly. Why don't you use instead? I suppose I want to also add my ideas and thoughts to my resource discoveries, and perhaps add a few cool graphics, and personalize and customize my learning environment in a more creative manner, which I didn't find in, or any of the other social bookmarking and resource sharing sites I have discovered.
  • Construct an informal and messy learning repository of all the juicy learning resources (mostly free!) I have discovered during my learning adventures. If someone should ask what I have learned or read online, I can simply link them to my blog. It is actually a kind of CV keeping track of my favorite resource discoveries (including time trail), and my thoughts and ideas about them. Also, if I discuss with someone about an excellent resource, I don't have to always repeat something I have already posted. I can simply answer: You can find it on my blog. If it is messy, just Google the key word (e.g. Classtools) and 'ZaidLearn" and you are on your way!

Did I achieve my ultimate objectives? If the measure was visitors and hits, I suppose I am kind of a failure, if I compare myself to some of the super bloggers out there. I know of bloggers that get more hits in one day, than I have achieved in my lifetime in the blogs sphere. But then again my blog's readability is 'Genius', so unless I change the way I express myself; I will probably appeal only to geniuses in what I post about (Critical thinking loud and clear!). Though, I did get visitors from many interesting parts of the world, much thanks to Google Search, Stephen Downes, Joseph Hart and others that shared some of my posts in their blogs. In the picture below, you can see that most of my visitors (or readers) are from USA, Canada, Europe, India, and obviously Malaysia (where I live).

If we convert those three (3) reasons for blogging into objectives, I suppose I have done alright. I am kind of satisfied with my messy and informal learning repository (Though, still needs tremendous improvement!), which I suppose I use more than anyone out there to recap and reflect what I have learned. My knowledge sharing attitude is becoming a habit, which is something I have actually worked on since 2004. I am feeling some progress here, and if I try any harder I might just get fired :)

What about connecting, learning from, and communicating with some of the great thinkers on online education? Not sure about that one, but I have had some interesting reflections, comments and thoughts by a few ETL bloggers out there. So, I suppose I have made some impression and certainly learned a bunch from these comments and reflections.

Here are a few comments, reflections and thoughts about my blog or posts:

  • Joseph Hart
    "This promising new weblog by Zaid Ali Alsagoff is devoted to open learning resources around the world; Zaid is located in Malaysia. His blog is especially valuable for its extensive listing of links to bloggers who write about eLearning and its multiple links to Learning Tools, eLearning sites, OpenCourseWare sites, University Podcasts, and Learning Repositories..."
  • Stephen Downes
    I am proud to say that the first two news items on the widely read OLDaily newsletter on October 16 (2007), were from ZaidLearn. Stephen said, "...I agree with the author (Zaid) that there are "many excellent free online learning resources out there that are not being fully utilized by the global intelligence learning network." But I don't agree that Buffett's talk is one of them - and this illustrates perfectly the folly of trying to plan this or of depending on presumed authority to make the choices for us." I am not sure if that is positive, but I am happy to know that Stephen actually read my two posts, reflected them, and posted his own piece of mind about my opinion, too. It taught me a lesson about expressing opinions appropriately, and of course that Stephen might sometimes actually read my blog. Yes, I remember another OLDaily news item where Stephen said (Source), "...As Zaid says, "The key is not whether we fail or succeed during our studies, put how much effort and attitude we put into it. If the effort and right attitude is internalized into the students' mind (becomes a habit) during the learning process, he or she will eventually succeed (Trust me!)." So, sometimes we agree, sometimes we don't. But one thing is for sure, I have learned a lot from Stephen virtually; reading his blogs, articles, papers, and watching his videos :)
  • Graham Glass
    "...I particularly appreciate his belief that sites like ours are the beginning of a new era in education, where free learning systems, open resources and community involvement will change the way we teach and learn."
  • Tom Kuhlmann
    "....If you have your own blog, do like Zaid did. He linked to this series and showed some before and after images. It’s also a great way to share your own tips and tricks..."
  • Wynn Williamson
    "...Two other excellent, regularly updated and substantive educational blogs are Oculture and Zaid Learn."
  • Jeff Cobb
    "... Zaid Ali Alsagoff, however, has already discussed the new OER booklet in a post on Zaidlearn and followed it with another excellent post on open educational resources earlier this week. This is one of those occasions where I think it is best for me to simply point to the good work of another blogger."
  • John Goldsmith
    "...Zaid Ali Alsagoff, another blogger has compiled his top 10 list of blogs related to online learning. They look pretty good. Most are bloggers that i know and follow but a couple are new. If you are look for a place to start, this list is as good a place as any..."
  • Patricia Donaghy
    "...First came across this site thanks to a reference on Zaid’s blog, which has lots of other interesting posts regarding free resources."

Actually, I have found blogging quite addictive and I was seriously planning to quit completely, so that I perhaps can achieve my goals for 2008. I simply do not have time to blog 1-3 hours a day (and be mentally exhausted the rest of the day!), five/four days a week. It is affecting my other duties. However, after reflecting a bit, I have also realized that my messy informal learning repository (and reflections!) is actually useful to some, and perhaps if I just discipline (failed today!) my blogging time consumption, and limit it to 30 minutes (maximum) a day (to keep my addiction at bay!), I can still manage to do it.

Also, I hope from 2008 my blog posts will be shorter (1-2 text chunks per resource discovery) and juicier. I hope ZaidLearn will evolve into a quick fire news blog about learning tools, Open Educational Resources (OER), and teaching and learning stuff. A kind of mash-up of Joseph Hart , Stephen Downes , Jane Knight , Ray Schroeder, and Helge Scherlund's great news and resource blogs. Their postings are short, juicy, relevant, and have their own creative touch. I suppose that is the way to go for now, while I try to achieve my main goals in 2008.

Now, that I will have more time, I hope that I can get my PhD started, produce 8-12 quality articles about something related to learning (one-a-month!), and collaborate with some great people to nurture amazing learning environments. After getting the chance to watch and communicate with Bryan Chapman, I believe I have the talent, passion and potential to one day become a 'Learning Strategist' (Just need to get my 'Left Brain' in order, so that I can convince the accountants, investment guys, and CEOs!).

I wonder how many times I have mentioned 'I' in this post! So, I (again!) better soon stop my ramblings, and begin my 2008 learning journey. It hopefully starts with a 'WE'.

In short, Insha-Allah (God Willing) I hope that in 2008, I become a better Muslim, more caring father and loving husband, and produce at least one great idea related to learning (in addition to 1000s of bad ones!).

Hmm, for all of you still reading my last ramblings for 2008, I hope your dreams come true and that you have an outstanding year of learning, collaboration, sharing and caring :)


Jeff Cobb said...

Zaid--I've enjoyed reading ZaidLearn since finding it. I like your reasons for blogging, and I suspect you have done much better than "alright" in achieving your goals. For what it's worth, I'm in favor of you staying at "genius" level and not shortening your posts too much. You have managed to establish a presence that distinguishes you from the other other blogs you mention and this uniqueness, I think, is what will contribute most to you building a large audience over time. Just my two cents. Also, I'm not sure why I had not done this before, but ZaidLearn is now in the blogroll at Best wishes for 2008. (Also, congrats on the new Malaysia e-learning blog.) --Jeff

Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

Thanks Jeff for your two cents (of gold)! Highly appreciated!

I suppose I agree with what you said, and will probably stick to 4-5 posts a week focusing on the real juice (quality over quantity through my limited lense), and not make my posts too short (No twittering here!).

Thanks for your reflections :)

Also, thanks for adding ZaidLearn to your blogroll :)

Finally, I hope you have a great year learning, blogging, and achieving your goals :)

And remember to have fun during the process :)

Warm Regards,