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A “Revisited” blog post indicates that I reread the original and used AI-assisted tools (e.g., Grammarly) to improve grammar and word choice.

First published on November 26, 2009.

For the past few years, I have followed with interest and admiration the blogging and developments in thinking of Jane Hart about using social media to enhance learning. In particular, I have been interested in exploring the annual lists she creates of the top 100 learning tools based on judgments by educational professionals. She, for example, made a list of “blogging tools” accompanied by comments by individuals who endorsed a particular tool.

Jane has directly and positively influenced my teaching. Motivated by her contributions, I created a first-year seminar based on her top twenty-five tools last year. I continue to find myself increasingly incorporating tools she identified into my classes.

My introduction to blogging tools has reinvigorated my interest in writing and enhanced my judgment of the value and ease of including writing exercises in all of the classes I teach. These tools could enhance a student’s civic responsibilities (writing a thoughtful response to a New York Times online article  or local paper), improve their writing, and learn about “publishing.”

I have had several false starts blogging—and explored several kinds of software whose primary function was blogging. Is there a BEST blogging software? Based on my experiences, I would argue “no.” 

I reject the notion of “best teaching practices” or best psychological therapy. Instead, I ask myself, best for what purpose? Best for what kind of user? Best in terms of ease of use? Best in terms of cost (time and money)? Best in terms of likelihood of existing in 3-five years? For my purposes, based on my trying five such kinds of software, I find that Typepad serves me best—for now. Admittedly, the fact that Jane Hart also uses it influenced my decision!

Is there a need for so many other kinds of blogging, micro-blogging, and wiki software? I would argue “yes”. No one size fits all learners, all learning, and all learning contexts. The more ways my students and I can learn independently and collaboratively, communicate, and learn to learn, the better.

Keep those lists of tools coming, Jane! And thank you for your path-breaking leadership.