Never question your power…

This post is really dedicated to everyone who is a lurker in the edtech world.  You know who you are.  You are reading lots of blogs but never leave a comment.  You joined twitter but really only post links or re-tweet.

I am driving up to Boston next week to attend Edubloggercon.  If you take a look at the attending page and you are a edtech groupie you will recognize many of the faces.  There are some pretty seriously smart people that are attending.  Two years ago I did not attend Educon in Philadelphia because I looked at the attending page and was way to intimidated by the faces.  There were so many people who had contributed so much and I had well…contributed nothing.  It took me over two years of blogging and twittering before I felt ready to go to a national conference and not be intimidated…let me re-word that…it took me two years of quietly blogging and following other people twittering before I finally attended my first national conference.  I was scared stiff but I made it through and went on several months later to attend another conference and survived it.  It was around this time last year that I really started to have some confidence and get involved in twitter conversations and comment on people’s blogs.  I didn’t become any smarter, just more confident.  In some ways I feel like I lost two years of learning by whimping out of conversations and conferences.

So if you are new to the edtech world and are looking to start contributing, I invite you to pick a post on this blog, any post and leave a comment(or anyones blog).  No one will know you are making your one of your first comments, it will show up just like all the others.  Feel free to follow me on twitter @paulbogush and comment on anything I say.  Again, no one will know you are just testing the waters. Point is, you have to jump in, or at least dip your toes. I know it’s kind of intimidating, I can remember very clearly NEVER wanting to comment on anyone’s blog or make a comment to someone through twitter, and I only practiced safe blogging and twittering.  Writing posts and tweets that were simple and safe and wouldn’t expose myself to someone disagreeing.  That whole afraid of failure and looking silly thing…

(I know someone won’t like this but it’s what I did last year that really helped me) One thing I did last year that helped me alot was purgingn my twitter list and blogroll of all the big shots.  I deleted almost everyone from my twitter list that was on the “A” list and filled it with a lot more people just like me, and slowly built up with others that were just as impressive as all the big famous edtechheads but took an interest in helping me.  It simply made me much more comfortable.  I think the world of blogs and twitter is powerful stuff and everyone should take the leap.  I also know that almost everyone who visits blogs doesn’t get involved in the conversation, and most of the people that I have followed over the last several months stay awfully quiet when they are on and just lurk.  So to all the lurkers I want to leave you with the words Linda Nitsche wrote to me today–“ We all have amazing things to share and ideas to move change forward. Never question your power!”  Please take a leap of faith today and join one conversation, make one comment, write one tweet or plurk one response to someone.  Never question your power to make a contribution.

So if you promise to make comment or tweet, I will promise to not sit in silence at the conference Tuesday and walk out at the end of the day feeling like I missed out on another opportunity to make a contribution.  Seriously, If I can do it, so can you.  Deal?


  1. Great idea for a post Paul! Thanks for putting yourself out there back when you did first. Sharing that story should surely help others take “the dip” (unless you continuously post about their dog’s resemblance of a hamster).

  2. Thanks for the encouragement and tips, Paul. I’ve tried to push myself this summer, taking time to read and comment, but I am still constantly second-guessing myself. Your post is empowering– we are all truly better together.

    1. I hear you on the second guessing…it’s funny how every post I have just written that I have really second guessed myself on has been the most popular. The posts that I thought would be sure “hits” because I worked so hard on them went no-where. I am getting to the point that when I start second guessing myself I am realizing that I am second guessing not the message or quality, but exposing a little bit more of myself to the world and am afraid that I am the only one “out there” that thinks a certain way…hope that makes sense 😉

  3. I concur with the previous comments. This was a great idea for a post and is sound advice for folks new to twitter and blogging, including me. I only recently stepped out into the world of blogging last week and made my first post. What a feeling to get comments from others, and I know whether they agree or disagree with me I’m glad to be a part of the larger conversation. I’m hooked!

    1. I know it would be nice to say that I blog regardless of how many comments I get, but come on, they do make you feel all warm and fuzzy and give you lots of energy for the next post…even if it’s only one comment with a few words it’s enough to really energize you.

  4. Great Post Paul. I think at one time or other we have all been lurkers. I tends to lurk more on Twitter than on Plurk. Plurk has a friendlier atmosphere for me. (We have missed you chatting with us on Plurk) I am not an enthusiastic writer, so I do a lot more reading blogs and am guilty of making verbal comments that I never leave as a comment to posts. I will try to make a better effort to actually post those comments.

    1. I have started just leaving “great post” sort of comments on blogs that I visit. It’s sometimes hard to leave a comment especially on posts that have some really extensive comments already. Sometimes I am afraid to leave my dinky little comment amongst the phd comments!

  5. I’ve only just started blogging with my first graders & am starting up a personal blog for an upcoming mission trip to Kenya. I’ve only recently started following blogs of people I don’t know IRL & you’ve created an atmospere that made even a newbie like me feel comfortable commenting right away. Thnx for the opportunity:)

  6. Deal. I have actually been having a very similar conversation with some other bloggers. Comments, and interactions make the discussions so much more meaningful!

  7. Heya Paul, I’ve said it before, and you probably don’t believe me, but you have an excellent way of saying what you say.

    This is an excellent post because you remind us all of how frightening the online world can be.

  8. Paul,
    Have you seen the One Comment A Day Project? It’s a community of people dedicated to becoming involved in online conversation and promoting new (and not-so-new) bloggers. Its purpose is also to be a way for people who are ‘lurking’ to become more involved.

    You read a blog, comment on it, then tweet the URL with the hashtag #ocp.


    Mary Beth

  9. Paul, Thanks for the idea of purging all the big wigs! I do follow them but most don’t follow me back. I’ve been thinking about doing this, but now I will. Thanks for the encouragement.

    1. I also had a rule of not following anyone who had more followers than me(with exceptions). That really helped make me feel like part of the twitter community. That worked really well in the 100-200 followers zone. I need a new rule now!

  10. Guilty as charged! Excellent post, you’re so right- thanks for the push. We encourage our students to engage and share, but now I’m making the connection about how intimidating that can be for them, just as it is for me.

    1. Blogging changed the way I teach. I now totally get the fear that kids feel. I also recognize how in many cases what we labeled lazy, or unprepared is actually just the student feeling intimidated.

  11. True! It is intimidating to be confronted by people who are so obviously at ease with the technologies involved in blogging. I have been intvited to speak in conferences, about “excellent use of ICT in the classroom”, but blogging seems a whole new hurdle. I am still dithering over which provider to use, and doubting my ability to blog about anything that anyone else would want to read.
    Maybe this might be the first plunge into the unknown.
    Mags Hawke

  12. Thanks Paul that was a great article. I’m just getting started in the world of edutech and trying to learn how to do new things such as tweeting and blogging. Your article gives me the courage to keep figuring things out because I really want my students to make the most of their generation.

  13. After reading this, I feel so much better. I was commenting to my husband the other day that I feel like I don’t know what to say or don’t have anything good to contribute. Thanks for the encouragement! I’m going to try a lot harder now.

  14. Love this post and have sent it to a few friends and colleagues. I’ve progressed beyond lurking with some things, still lurking with others, and clueless about others (but willing to learn). I’m leaving for BLC in an hour and know that navigating some of the content will be like a crash course in a foreign language. I’m intrigued by what you did with purging some of the super stars you followed and rethinking your PLN. Sometimes I feel surrounded by enlightened thinking that I can’t quite grasp (or maybe disagree with—so does that make me unenlightened?) On the other hand, so many people maintain some humility and willingness to help others find whatever resources they need…that’s what probably keeps me progressing along my learning curve. Yikes—BLC here I come!

    1. I think voicing your disagreement is important. It seems that the loudest voices have very similar personalities. They have kind formed a wall of ideas, especially those leading the tech ed revolution. Because no one ever seems to offer up any alternative ideas or disagree with them it makes you believe that they are right, and you are unenlightened. I have found when I have “whispered” my disagreement in the hallways of conferences, so many people have agreed with me, but everyone felt they were alone in the “big” room and so never voiced their opinion. I think making everyone else who is not in their camp feel unenlightened is part of their plan 😉

  15. @Paul What a wonderful post. Exactly the kind that so many of us are thinking about, but never have taken the time to put it in writing and posting so others can benefit from it.
    Your blog has many of those gems and I am so glad you decided to take the plunge.

    I wrote a post called “Who do YOU write for?” a while back. Each one of us has to figure out why and how we want to participate in the network.

  16. Paul ~ you have expressed how I have felt. I am now into my second year of lurking and I have been stepping out a little more. I Plurk and Twitter often, but I still have not gotten to commenting on blog posts or regularly writing my own posts. I have gone to conferences and I always feel somewhat intimidated. Also, at NECC this summer I felt somewhat disconnected when I met some of my PLN. Several people had to do a double take and think about who I was. This made me think about how much I gain and take from others without contributing. I thank you for the post and a boost in confidence to continue on in this techno learning environment!

    1. I’ll say this very quietly Nicole…sometimes at conferences when I feel intimidated I have to remind myself that the people who tend add to the intimidation don’t know more than everyone else, but just talk more than everyone else, or can just put together a string of fancy words that makes it sound like they know more.

  17. Thanks so much for your post! It was very encouraging to me! I’m a brand new blogger. Just getting started in this exciting new adventure. I’m a passionate educator and student, and would love to share, given the motivation to do so….thanks for giving me that!

  18. Thanks for such a great post Paul. Yes I still lurk and tend not to comment, but I do use twitter for a more proactive participation. My trip from OZ to NECC last year did the trick in terms of being more confident, but the other thing has been that I have tried to set up networks in Australia of teachers so w can comment on our own issues here. Yes the American voice is great to listen to, but it also important to build a local PLN where you can explore the issues which affect us all as well as the more local ones. It is a difficult thing to jump into the river of what is being discussed but those A listers you speak of have been pushing the can for all of us for so long , they need a chorus of support/ fresh perspectives to help them keep going too. Great stuff and I would love to chat about some collaboration as I am head of Year 8 at my school if that is possible.

  19. Thanks Paul!

    I came across your blog via a list of the TOP 25 peeps to know in EduTech. So I guess by your standards we should all purge you. But since we just met, I will hang out for a while.

    Hello, my name is Keishla, and I am an EdTech Lurker….(you chime in…Hi Keishla). Sometimes I feel like a really adept techie, and other times I feel like a neophyte. The enormity of it all can be overwhelming.

    I have started and not followed thru with blogging many times. I just can’t get the discipline of it. But you are right…I can contribute to the dialogue in other ways.

    Thanks for inviting us all in!!!

    1. “I came across your blog via a list of the TOP 25 peeps to know in EduTech. So I guess by your standards we should all purge you.”

      Geez…what have I become? I guess I had in mind # of followers/visitors to their blog sort of thing. I can assure you that while I have made the list, I am still a wee little guy. I am delighted when visitors to my blog breaks into double digits–just checked…11 yesterday! Or when you click on someone’s twitter name and you see they only follow 200 out of 2000 people, and all 200 are only the big wigs. But your comment has sparked a idea for a future post.

  20. I loved your comment on my camp post, Paul. You made me fall off my chair laughing…full time, no way for me. Two weeks is the full extent of what I can handle. You are one of the blessed who can do that work full time. I sure admire the staff at camp because it is hard work. You and your wife should try lead counselor slots somewhere next summer and see how you like it. I know they would love to have us for more than two weeks, but as I said earlier, NO WAY.

  21. Thanks for the comment on my blog, Paul, and for the link to your post on the topic of being insecure about the value of one’s own blog posts. I enjoyed your post and also was very enlightened by the comments. I especially enjoyed the post by langwiches blog. I never knew her real name before. I do often reference my own blog posts when I wish to share a really good resource with a teacher. If I had not blogged about it, I would not have been able to retrieve the info as easily. While I still intend to follow the “big wigs”, including you, I will not be as intimidated as I have been feeling. I look forward to working with you this year, and I hope we can learn a lot from each other.

  22. I know this is an old post but I felt strangely compelled to comment on it. Your blog and the work and your kids do is amazing and very inspiring to me.

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