Asides,  Weblogs

2019 blog review


Warning: Blogging as therapy session follows

I usually end the year with a review of my own year on blogging. Not a review of ed tech blogging as a whole and the themes of the year, but just me. And in that is something of my current identity doubts with my own blog. This is my 44th post of the year, down on my usual 50 or so, which hints at that questioning also. The thing I’ve been struggling with is that a lot of the bloggers I admire have effectively become very good ed tech journalists, writing very well researched, thoughtful essays. These are excellent, but working in academia, blogging performs a different function for me – I write research papers and books which is the place for the carefully argued work. My blog felt like an antidote to that in a way – a place to put out half baked ideas and quick posts that are knocked off in-between other things.

This is exacerbated by the political situation and general crapness of things. I used to comment on this stuff, but increasingly I feel that it’s more useful to just STFU and let people who are better informed and write about such with a greater depth than I do have the space. Don’t add to the noise (this is also a useful approach to being a man asking questions at conferences I find).

These two aspects – of wanting to write in an informal manner and not wanting to distract from better placed voices on many issues means I often find myself thinking about a post and then going “nah”. And once you start doing that in blogging, the threshold to post becomes greater, and the inclination to do it declines. I didn’t comment on the demise of the OpenEd conference or the recent arguments about Instructure, for example because I felt others had said it better.

The result of this can be a solipsism – the thing I do know about, which other people won’t blog about, and which I can do quickly and informally is me. Although there has always been a personal aspect to blogging, one that’s just me, me, me quickly becomes tiresome (as this post attests). Anyway, no answers to this, just working it through. I do have plans for a series next year but it has a Martin-centric focus, so we’ll see how it goes.

Get on with the review!

In terms of blogging this year, I had 320K visits from 118K visitors. I started the year with my 1000th post. The most popular post was my confessional Academicing with Depression. This also attracted the most comments – which shows that people are nice. I had fun playing with the Ed Tech Metaphor (and Open Degree) Generator which reminded me of the old days of blogging, when Tony Hirst and Alan Levine would patiently explain stuff to me. Perhaps the most EdTechie post of the year was VAR lessons for Ed Tech. A random one I’m re-bigging is Situated degree pathways.

On a professional front it has been a good year for me and I have a lot to be thankful for. I feel a tad guilty about this given the general chaos the world is descending into, but it’s a reminder that personal and global tides can operate at different frequencies. Some people meet the love of their life during war time after all. I started the year with my (rather belated) inaugural lecture. I have sort of become one of the unofficial spokespeople for the OU, and in our 50th year got to present at the Hay Festival which was a real privilege. I became Chair of the Open Programme, and this really provided an opportunity to bring together different strands of open education. We managed to secure funding for a further three years for the GO-GN project which is simply a delight to work on. I completed my 25 Years of Ed Tech book and had it accepted by Athabasca Press, so it will be out early next year. And towards the end of the year I was awarded a Commonwealth Learning Chair in OER, which will allow me to help expand the GO-GN network.

I can’t imagine we’ll look back on 2019 with any fondness more generally though. But I am thankful for what I have. And look, it’s hard to be down when you get greeted by this enthusiasm every day. See you all in 2020.


  • JR Dingwall

    I always look forward to seeing EdTechie pop up in my RSS feed, I look forward to posts and series you come up with in 2020 Martin. Also, I’m really looking forward to the 25 years of Ed Tech book and am glad to hear it’ll be available in 2020.


  • Phil Hill

    Thanks for the reflection, but please keep posting. Your voice is valuable, and (like JR) I personally look forward to updates from you. As a piece of advice, keep thinking of blogging as something informal, meaning that it is something that can change depending on your professional work or mood. You shouldn’t feel a need to post on items like OpenEd and Instructure if you have discomfort, but don’t overthink it. You had 118k visitors because they *wanted* to hear from you. If Martin is the topic, especially in the context of academe and ed tech environment, go for it. Also, don’t worry too much about the cadence – slow down if needed (but I hope that you keep it up).

    Looking forward to your blog in 2020, and thanks for 2019.

    • mweller

      Hi Phil – thanks for taking the time to comment and kind words. You’re right about not overthinking – I know from experience that often the most popular posts are ones you knock out in a few minutes and the ones you agonise over get zip response. But I have found myself overthinking it, and that’s hard to get out of.

  • Jim Groom

    What would a blog be without mindless navel gazing? Let’s not denature the last of the pure social media :0 Always a pleasure following along, and your struggles with voice and a sense of self on he blog hits close to home. I was watching an interview with Cassavetes recently wherein he notes that once self-doubt and second guessing set-in, your done. Not sure that is entirely true, but I have definitely scrapped more than a few posts I had written in my head, partially given time and focus, but also given I was not sure that was he post I needed to write at this point. Anyway, thanks for the occasion to work through some of that in my mind, but I’m just not sure I’ll blog it πŸ™‚

    Big fan….

    • mweller

      Hi Jim, thanks – that Cassavetes quote is exactly it, particularly second guessing. As Phil says in these comments, the key is not to overthink it. I’m hoping my massively self-indulgent project I have planned for 2020 will help me over it, even if you are the only reader left at the end of it πŸ™‚

  • Clint Lalonde

    If only my fully baked ideas were as useful and valuable as your supposed half-baked insights, Martin!

    I do feel the self-doubt and second guessing of my own posts these days as well. The fear of how my message may land in an age where almost anything can be skewed or misinterpreted, and then immediately amplified before you know it. Even today in my own year end post I wrestled with what I thought was an interesting point and whether or not to include my observation for fear that it could be misinterpreted, and that caused me some grief.

    Maybe that is why I noticed my posts are getting longer? Maybe it is the need to provide more context and less half-bakedness? More likely it is just my own neuroticism. But whatever the reason, I do miss feeling like I had the freedom to be more half-baked sometimes. But more often than not I feel my posts end up watered down and neutral.

  • Mark Curcher

    Hi Martin
    Pretty well always enjoy your posts Martin. I like the variety of topics and the way you just put things out there for comment or for people to think about.
    I rarely comment as I usually do not think I have a useful comment to make, though I do often wish I could “Like” a post to show that I have read it and tend to agree with what you have written.
    Thanks for the work you do and very much looking forward to the book as well.
    Seasons greetings and best for 2020.

  • Laura James

    I feel I have little to add to what others have said – always enjoy your posts, and find them very helpful to stay slightly connected to the ed tech (or whatever) space, despite having moved on to other things in my work.

    Views from those at the coal face, as it were, even if supposedly half-baked, always seem more interesting than the carefully digested outputs of those who are writing and thinking full time. Please keep at it πŸ™‚

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