Protecting the Sanctity of EduBlogging

It's funny that as I was introducing folks to Twitter and Plurk earlier this week, one of the tough questions I wrestled with was how to convey the tenets of blogging. For example, some of those tenets (IMHO) include the following:
  1. Honest - When you make mistakes about content or assertions (not typos here), you admit them as comments or labelled updates in the original blog entry. You also share your opinion honestly.
  2. Transparent - When you write about something, you are up front about any biases, prejudicial thought you may have, and you explain the reason why. You want people to know exactly how you came to have an opinion, formed a position on a subject or issue, and your goal is transparency of thought and action as modelled in a blog post.
  3. Predictability - While unpredictability is highly valued, I certainly think one can be so within predictable parameters. The goal here is that people know what you're going to be exploring or writing based on your previous entries. For example, on Around the Corner I write about a heck of a lot of different things...but you know I probably won't be writing about some specific topics or doing product endorsements for which I've been paid.
  4. Full Disclosure - As a blogger, it doesn't hurt to include a full disclosure statement that ensures everyone is aware of your biases, affiliations, etc. Here is my full disclosure.
As a result of those thoughts earlier this week, I was thrilled to read Vicki Davis' post where she explores some of the items that are a concern to any blogger, but especially educators. Here are some of the points in summary but I encourage you to read the complete entry:
So, on this blog post, I am asking input. I know that many of you will be shocked and outraged at two (and maybe three) of these solicitations, and rightly so. Some of you may not see a problem with them and we'll have to respectfully disagree.
But my biggest concerns are this:
a) Sanctity of educational blogging content and full disclosure of affiliations
b) Sanctity of student content (What happens when educational institutions start "monetizing student content" to raise money? What happens if we don't talk to students and they get solicited?)
c) Raising awareness that this practice is out there. Starting the discussion is the first step.
So, when you state your opinion, please also suggestion any ideas for courses of action that should be taken. If you have a code of conduct on your blog, I'd appreciate links below for both myself and others.
Teach me, my friends. Enlighten me. Sometimes I think I  know what I'm doing with this blogging thing and then something happens to make me feel like a newbie all over again.
To quickly respond to Vicki's questions, I have to agree that taking actions that threaten the integrity of student content--including commercial linking that is reprehensible--should be a big "no-no" for schools or individual education bloggers UNLESS they take the following actions:

  • Have obtained permission from their Community and/or stakeholders (in the case of an educational organization)
  • Have fully disclosed what is going on and that disclosure needs available in every one of these posts. Note that my full disclosure is linked to EVERY single blog entry.
Of course, these are my opinions written up over a short period of time. More reflection is needed.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


Richard Byrne said…
It seems that we have two issues at play here. 1. Should edubloggers as individuals (or team blogs) use advertising & affiliate links? 2. Should school blogs, classroom blogs, have advertising & affiliate links.

The answer to the first question lies with the individual blogger. I think it's okay for bloggers to generate some income from their work (and for some of us it is a part-time job of 25+ hours/ week). Others disagree with me and that's okay too.

The second question is tougher. I think if a school wants to raise some funds through an affiliate link (there are affiliate programs for non-profits) that is okay. Just make sure that it is spelled-out clear as day that there is an affiliate relationship at play. Make it clear that a purchase equals money for the school.

Ads that pay on a pure page impression or click-through rate are another story. Because those ads don't require a specific action (making a purchase) by visitors, I think it would be easy for the community to argue that the school is taking advantage of their position. In other words, if a school website is a place that students and parents have to visit, placing ads on those pages would be taking advantage of the situation.
@Mr.Byrne: Thanks for sharing! As long as you clearly disclose what you're up to, I have no problems with what you are doing.

MY personal preference is to not get paid for my blog entries. It's a disincentive...consider Cognitive Surplus ( article quote:

"For creative, conceptual tasks, if-then rewards rarely work and often do harm (Edward Deci's research, Univ. of Rochester).

Regrettably, that's how it is for me.

Whether it's true for you, apparently not! You are very productive.

Warm regards,
Richard Byrne said…
Hi Miguel,

I completely agree with the decision you and many others make to not display advertising. I did the same for a year or more (can't honestly remember when I made the jump). I think that the reason this statement:

"For creative, conceptual tasks, if-then rewards rarely work and often do harm (Edward Deci's research, Univ. of Rochester)."

isn't true for me is that making money was never a part of my reason for starting a blog nor is it the reason I continue the blog. If blogging ever stopped being an enjoyable learning experience for me, my blog would die.

Motivation video -

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