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James Farmer Takes on Edublogs.org Full-Time

WordPress NewsIt is with great joy that I announce that James Farmer of legendary and all its associated free blog services, is leaving his work with The Age and going full-time to Edublogs.org.

Today I handed in my notice at The Age and come July 1st I’ll be working 100% for myself, the majority of the time on Edublogs and the rest doing consultancy, speaking, design & development for education, media and community projects.

I’ve always wanted to work for myself, and Edublogs is allowing me to do that. There are currently over 76,000 blogs on the sites and over 1100 new ones every week (well, each week or for the last three weeks at least), add to that the initial success of Edublogs Premium and some extensions I’ve got for that coming along with a couple of other ideas, and I’m aiming to turn it into a fully sustainable business within the next six months.

Edublogs logoI’ve admired James for a long time. He was so impressed with , the WordPress multi-user version which is based upon, that he was the first to put WordPressMU into action with Edublogs.org, bringing free blogs to teachers and educators and creating a community with a common theme: education.

According to James, it is now the largest educational blogging site on the web. I say it’s the largest educational community on the web today. That’s quite an achievement in two years.

I have written about Edublogs and James Farmer many times over the past two years and I’m totally thrilled he is making this huge leap of faith and giving his talented all to Edublogs. You will do well, my friend, I have no doubt.

As part of his last hurrah on The Age, James wrote Comment is Twee, a scathing and cynical, but honest, look at the issues of blog comments.

Honestly, I’ve had enough.

Enough of the flaming, the trolling, the moderation, the spam, the ‘who’s-got-more’ syndrome, the inanity and the sheer stupidity behind allowing them on sites like theage.com.au.

They devalue our content, insult much of our readership, piss off our advertisers, waste massive amounts of our time and place us at an enormous legal risk.

They’re also perhaps the least web-savvy thing we, as a large media organisation, should be doing. They’re yesterday’s online communication forums, they’re twee.

This, needs revisiting. Let’s get rid of them now.

In the end, he sums up what I say almost every day, to my students, clients, groups, and to you: Make your comments count.

Good luck, James. We’ll be cheering for you!

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network, and author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.

8 Comments

  1. Posted June 10, 2007 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    After such a quote it is almost impossible to write a comment, but the first quote makes me curious, especially the sentence part about “along with a couple of other ideas”.

    We’ll have probably to come back to check this out.

  2. Posted June 10, 2007 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Several years ago James helped me become a regular blogger, and now 1,000 posts later, I’m still chugging along. James freely gives of his time and I know that he is suited to being a free-agent, as he is already a free spirit. Education can be a tough market for an independent business, so I too wish him well.

  3. Posted June 10, 2007 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Lorelle, I’m blushing :) Finally doing this wouldn’t be possible without the amazing people behind wordpress and the great news and inspiration that LoWP offers too!

  4. Posted June 10, 2007 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    The other incredible part that James has arranged is– given that “education” itself still has problems reconciling support and users (teachers and/or administration) and users (students). Blogging is a new format, with many legacy issues (computers as teaching machines, as school luxuries, as sources of evil influence on young minds) and evolving by the minute (uses, users, technology).

    Many educators (teachers, professors, designers, cabinet secretaries, et al.) still don’t understand what a computer is, much less the world-wide web. James has been masterful at juggling these disparate and often competing interests at their nexus, edublogs.org, and has encouraged experimentation, a.k.a., try it and see if it breaks. It really is good news that he is finally able to stretch himself not so thinly as before (and simultaneously in 4 hemispheres, too!).

  5. Posted June 13, 2007 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    An issue here that was a problem with technology integration at around the mid 1990′s when the web was becoming more or less commonplace, is the same isue that the PC had at the beginning of its integration into the work place. That is, there is no current perceived need in educational practice for blogging as a teaching tool as there was no perceived need for a PC when all of the information was still in file cabinets back in the 1980′s.

    For higher education, the issue is always encouraging transformation of teaching practice in order to facilite different means of student learning. Authentic assessment and the use of digital archives and comments in portfolios have come a long way to do that with the added bonus of authentic outcomes assessment. To this end, these tools replicate many of the funtions of blogging with integrated assessment programs.

    The problem that edublogs and tools like it will have to inevitably encounter is that the market for these tools is quite robust with options that are tied to outcomes assessment (TaskStream, Chalk and Wire, LiveText) along with courseware and portal software like Blackboard and Campus Pipeline. Finding a way to nudge into this market with unique tools like blogging as a standalone product will be a challenge since it seems to replicate many of the tools that are bundled in these suites already. I would just hate to see another product like this sucked up by one of these companies which seems to be the model that Blackboard has adopted for many years now (just look at their content management tool for an example and the entire building blocks model which seems to use clinet developed software as R&D for products they include in service packs and incremental upgrades!).

    So I am intrigued by this venture as an educational technologist and college administrator. I will be looking to see where it evloves with curious interest at the beginning at the very least! But your challenge for someone like me is to clearly address where the value added would be along with the thousands that an institution will already shell out for products that are really working and giving us the results that we want. Thanks.

  6. secretagent39
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    Ahhh.. so this is how I got to the link to link the link as I was reading links. :)
    I do remember starting here and somehow ending up on the older post. Thanks for the trail crumbs. In case you were wondering, I was totally slobbering by the end of the day. :)

    In reading the above comment by Drew, I can relate to the overwhelming amount of edublogs and tools like it and how to choose/recommend what will/won’t work, content value, costs, etc… I got started in doing this because I was a parent frustrated with the level of communication from our school district and found the navigation of their website to be horrible and daunting for an average user. I want to help with that and through that course, I am learning a whole bunch along the way.

    Inspirations come from so many places.

    Your wonderful blog and James Farmer’s Edublogs are such cool, accessible, inspirational, and terrific teaching tools that I can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate ya’ll.

    ‘Til the cows come home and the fat coyote sings! :)

  7. Posted June 14, 2007 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    I would not be here were it not for James and edublogs. I had only experienced blogger (not a great place for edublogging imo), until his service showed me how gorgeous a blog could be (and no “Next Blog” button). I love the quality of edublogs, and as silly as it may sound, the more “professional” look of edublogs (http://nicholasfifth.edublogs.org) over a static page (http://geocities.com/nicholaselementary/UnitTwo/unittwoindex.html) inspired my students to treat the site more seriously, and to actually write online.

  8. Posted June 17, 2007 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle, I will post on this later as James has suggested, but just wanted to congratulate James on his decision – Edublogs is a great platform, it has always benefited from his friendly presence – and remark that his take on the role of comments on information websites was as fascinating as it is incisive.
    The notion of allowing Technorati to monitor the discussion is new to me – I wonder if that’s an original idea of his. Must drop him a line and ask.


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