Is the Educational Journal Dead?

Certainly, the Education Journal is not dead!  Some folks, though, seem to think that it’s what I believe, or what I want.

[This is an edited version of a comment that I posted this morning on Matthew Tabor’s blog, Education for the Aughts]

Stone Man in Toronto Airport
I took this picture at the Toronto Airport the other day.  Kinda fits here.

Matthew sums up my position by saying…

Warlick’s question rests on the assumption that education blogs are a necessary and irreplaceable part of education curricula.

This is a fair summary.  Then he states, “Simply put, they aren’t.”  I disagree, but more on that later. Then he writes.

I want to know about a professor’s areas of expertise, with whom they’ve studied/collaborated and what they’ve produced. If a professor answers, “I read journals that are peer-reviewed and based on solid scholarship,” I find that a credit to them.

Hey, me too!  In fact, I think that it is reasonable to assume that any college instructor is keeping up with the latest in the literature of their field.  As a student, who wants to perform well, it would serve me to know what journals are read by my teacher.  But Matthew continues later in his post…

Warlick might as well say, “Why would I want an educator who knows how to buy a paper-based journal, open it with his hands and read it when I could have one who knows how to click a Firefox icon, type in a URL and read that?”

I’m not sure why people seem to assume that if one advocates one thing that it necessarily means  the rejection of another.  The fact is that Matthew demonstrates, through his disagreement with my article, the value of an immature publishing scheme. The casualness of the medium makes it difficult to present a complete scenario for a position.  But, it is what’s not said that leads to conversations (like this) where fuller understanding and even new and valuable ideas can be found or even grown. I’ll be presenting at a staff development institute this week, here in North Carolina, where farming is the theme of the event.  Not sure what I’ll be wearing to match the theme, but I suspect that I’ll talk about how today’s information landscape is like farming.  We have fertile ground to cultivate.  There are rocks, and clay, and even weeds that suck nutrients out of the soil.  But the blogosphere can be cultivated by skilled information workers through reading, thinking, writing, and conversing — and I believe that this act of cultivating content in the edublogosphere is critical to any education leader, espcially education professors. When I started teaching, I had no reason to believe that my job would change in any substantial way for the next 30 or 35 years.  In that professional circumstance, the occasional research-based and vetted article directly applicable to what and how I taught was sufficient.  But today, we are working in

  • a new and rapidly evolving economic, social, and political environment,
  • with students who enjoy an outside the classroom information experience that often far exceeds that of their classrooms in depth and richness, and
  • an information landscape that has changed what it means to be literate.

I believe that a profession that is challenged to adapt to such dramaticaly shifting conditions must engage in conversations — must be willing to cultivate new ground.  I think it’s part of why blogging has become so successful, because people need new ground, new ideas, new conversations.  Perhaps it’s out of the blogosphere that new directions in formal education literature might come. So, again, I’d ask what journals my education instructor is reading, if it hasn’t already been stated or implied from the syllabus, and I’d ask what blogs they are reading, to learn what conversations they are engaged in.  If I and other students read the same blogs, it might make for some valuable new conversations in class. Thanks, sincerely, for continuing the conversation, Matthew.

9 thoughts on “Is the Educational Journal Dead?”

  1. I operate in the less rarefied air of a K-12 school district. I’ll take good ideas, curricular enhancement, collaboration, wherever I can find them and in whatever format they appear.

    Educational blogs keep me current, keep me stimulated. I guide my own professional development. The knowledge I gain has a direct impact on students.

    I love books, I love blogs. I’ll gather information however I can.

  2. Thank you, David. As you may know, I continued this conversation on my blog and end up feeling a little battered. I spent yesterday wondering if I am heading in the right direction or not. I read books and journals. I read literature and the newspaper. I read blogs, too. Since I has so little time while I was working on my Master’s Degree, I have spent the summer reading everything I can get my hands on. I will be going back to school with no tan because I have been so busy reading.

    I never said that blogging is the only thing, just one great tool among many. Thanks for giving me the boost I needed!

  3. Several years ago after making a presentation in front of a very large audience in New York, a member of the audience approached me to point out that I had a typo on one of my slides. The long and the short of it was that as a result of this, he had decided to completely dismiss my message.

    While she was entitled to her opinion (even if it was compleely wrong!!) I was amazed at how effective personal filters can be in blocking the message and turning a shared perspective into an “either or” choice.

    Of course we want readers to be able to effectively analyze and authenticate the content by asking some good questions:

    •Who is the blogger?
    •What materials is the blogger reading and/or citing?
    •Is the blog well-established?
    •Who links to the blog?
    •Who is commentators?
    •Does this blog a standalone or is it part of a community?
    •Is the commentary deep or superficial
    •How accurate is the grammar, the language, the spelling?
    •How current are the posts?
    •Is there a substanital archive behind the post?
    •Is there bias? If so does the blogger acknowledge this bias?
    •What credentials does the blogger have?
    and so on.

    The bottom line is that we would never give the keys to a car to a kid without first giving them driver’s education. In the same way we need to provide users a Web driver’s license so that they can effectively wade through the good, the bad and the ugly of Web-based (and paper-based resources)

    Keep up the good work David… and may the farce me with you.

  4. In your farming analogy don’t forget that some of the best fertilizer is a little Bu** Sh**. In any great conversation about learning, especially at the college level, one must expect a bit of fertilizer. Which ultimately, adds to a florishing community.

  5. When I read your original comment it never even occured to me that your opinion of journals (and other print resources) were not valuable. What I did get from the comment is that if college students were really in tune with how important the web is and how much information is out there, that they must know what their professors are reading…and those professors should have some blogs on that list, becuase if they do not, they are missing a huge part of the conversation.

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