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I was…. wait for it…. a humor columnist.
Those of you that have witnessed my hilarity firsthand would consider that to be an appropriate assignment, while others may furrow their brows in confusion and/or will likely leave this page for a more interesting read.
Sometimes I forget that I wrote for our school paper. I don’t remember how that happened. I don’t recall much about the creative process where I developed ideas for my posts (such topics included, but were not limited to, 1984 diesel VW Rabbits (The Diesel Train, as we called her, looked a little something like this), the childhood game of MASH, and the Tom Green show), but I know I enjoyed writing Playful Banter and contributing in that manner to our college community was a very meaningful experience.
I had a voice, and I shared it.
I saved the print copies of my columns, and curiosity about the current state of The Etownian led me to discover its online version, as well as a series of accompanying blogs. An awesome transformation, in my opinion.
How do today’s Etownian writers benefit? For one, they probably have a much smoother time of drafting, editing, revising, and publishing their work. I know I had several hoops to jump through to get my column published, which included having to visit the newspaper’s Mac lab instead of write from the “office” of our dilapidated-rowhome-turned-offcampus-housing-for-me-and-ten-of-my-closest-friends.
The writers and editors surely have an excellent idea about which posts/features are popular and well-read. Using analytics, they likely can provide columnists with in-depth statistics about their readership. While I like to believe my column had its fans, after re-reading my posts today… I can’t be certain. #notasfunnyasitwasbackthen
There’s real-time posting: sportswriters can post images and news snippets from games; current events and news from campus is reported in a timely manner. Posts connect with social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to reach a broader audience (if I wanted my parents to read my column I had to clip and mail it to them! Although upon review it appears I used some mild profanity in my posts. So I probably didn’t clip and send those columns anywhere.) You can now subscribe to The Etownian through RSS.
Readers can comment. There are now conversations where there once were one-sided accounts. I love this message on the blog:
Recently, we’ve grown our community as we extend our commitment to reaching readers outside of the campus grounds. Our plan is to be able to not only provide our content across different platforms, but to also use these mediums to engage.
And, in the spirit of all things glorious about college newspapers, there is a print edition available, hosted on Issuu.
A multitude of voices, available and powerful, in so many different ways.
Sometimes, I lose my way creatively, especially with writing. I feel like I have nothing to say, which is when the weeks between posts on this blog reach two, three, or even four. Does that mean that my voice is lost? How else can I contribute and make my voice heard?
I chime in on Twitter occasionally. I comment on others’ blogs. I share resources with my staff and with my online colleagues. I contribute to conversations in the PLP Hub. So even if my thoughts aren’t enough to constitute a full post or column, I can add my thoughts to conversations about teaching and learning. I read. I reflect. I share photos, and post to my Posterous page or share something on Facebook. I share posts on our school blog. I browse my Google Reader feeds and check out what’s new on Zite.
How well do we prepare kids to share their voices in this digital age? Are we providing them with their own spaces? Empowering them to facilitate conversations, moderate comments, and share their voice with others? Or are we owning the spaces, dictating how, when, and what they can share? Are we limiting this to writing, or are we allowing them to post videos? Photos? Audio/podcasts? Artwork? Are we making sure there’s time in the day for creation, not overwhelming consumption? Are we teaching them to be responsible for every…single…thing they post online? How are we doing that? Are we using stand-alone lessons delivered in the media center, or is every single adult in the building modeling how he builds his own reputable digital footprint, and how he contributes to the collective?
How are your students’ voices being heard by parents and school community members? Is evidence of their learning just a click away? Or do they have to wait for conferences… or folders sent home… or article clippings?
Make 2012 the year your voices are heard- yours, and your students’!
*Insert please-recognize-sarcasm-when-you-read-it-giggles here.