How to Find and Follow Great Blogs

This is the eighteenth post in the Professional Development 2.0 series. If you have not already, I would encourage you to start with the first seventeen posts:

Writing a blog shows evidence of being a reflective practitioner. Just as many people write both to learn themselves and to help others, it makes sense that there is a wealth of quality information out there. Many educators of all experience levels and content areas offer their knowledge freely; it is an amazing and deep resource.

There are many ways to find quality blogs to follow.

  1. Google has a pretty good search engine specifically for finding blogs: http://blogsearch.google.com. If you do not have a anywhere else to look,  this is a good place to start.
  2. Look for those people who have influenced your thinking. You may have been introduced to people in college or have read a professional book that particularly resonated with you. These people are often considered “experts” in education, psychology, or technology. Will Richardson has been influential in educational technology for some time and I find his blog to be a great source of information. Who has been influential in your growth?
  3. Ask. This is one of the many instances where the time that you spent cultivating you personal learning network and building relationships will yield dividends. Think about the people you interact with and respect online; there is a good chance that they both blog and would be more than willing to give recommendations about the blogs that they follow.

Keeping up with what people write on their blogs is easier than it might seem at first, if you have the right tool. Whether you find 5 blogs that you feel are worth reading or 50, it can be laborious to have to go check every website. Google offers a tool to help called Google Reader that can organize them for you. It is an aggregator; what it does is pull all of the new articles from all the blogs that you want to read, and puts them in one place for you. There are other tools available to aggregate blogs for you; I recommend Google Reader because of its ease of use, its sharing tools, and the ability to access it from everywhere.

To use Google Reader, just go to http://google.com/reader. You may already have a Google account, but if not you will have to create one. The interface is very simple to use. Your blogs are listed on the left and the articles on the right. You can organize blogs into folders if you start to follow a lot of blogs and it becomes chaotic.

To add a blog to your Google Reader, just copy the web address, click the “Add a subscription” button on the top-left, and past the address. Now, all new entries to that blog will come up in your Google Reader. Plus, if you login from a different computer, it remembers which articles you have already read and highlights the new articles in bold.

When it comes to following blogs, there is a bit of a catch-22, similar to using social media. Generally, the more you read blogs, the more you want to read blogs and the more blogs you find. It can quickly become overwhelming if you let it. You need to find the right balance that will optimally help you grow. I really love reading. I have around 200 blogs in my reader; I have tried more than that and gotten overwhelmed in the past. 200 is about right for my growth and my schedule. Now, knowing my limits, I rarely add a blog without removing one because I cannot grow if I feel overwhelmed. Seeing 500 unread posts is discouraging and makes people not want to check their Google Reader, which just makes the problem even worse. If that happens to you, it is ok just to mark them all as read once in a while and start over. Remember, you do not have an obligation to read every word that everyone writes. You need to test the waters and see what will best help you improve.

3 comments to How to Find and Follow Great Blogs

  • ktenkely
    Twitter: ktenkely

    I am struggling with finding the balance in my reader. It is so hard to cut a blog that I enjoy to add another, and yet when I add to many I don’t really spend the time savoring each one the way I would like to. I think more hours in the day would be nice!
    ktenkely´s last blog post ..Mo Willem’s Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus Lesson

  • Christie Wright Wild
    Twitter: christiewild

    My goal is to read 5 blog entries a day, and comment on at least 3 of them. Most blogs don’t have DAILY entries, at least not the ones I follow.

  • Thanks for this informative article. I don’t think Google have got it right when it comes to searching for blogs. Some of the blogs that come up are full of ads and clearly part of a blogging network for SEO and some are just domain names. They need to improve the search. Blog directories are also a good way of finding blogs.

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