Today’s XKCD comic inspired this article. It details the rise of Tumblr and the subsequent fall of blogs. That’s in terms of simply the popularity of the term as it’s used across the web. While not an exact measure of blogging or Tumblr, it’s an important turning point in the age of the web. Before I move on, here’s the comic (awesome as usual):
An important note before you read the rest of this article: I wasn’t paid or compensated in any way to write it. I simply enjoy Tumblr and think it’s a helpful tool that I don’t see much written about. I’m trying to fix that. Now on with the show, err, article!
So what is it about Tumblr that makes it so popular? Quite simply, it’s Tumblr’s simplicity. Like Twitter, it’s beyond easy to slap up a picture, quote, video, and other content that interests you. But it doesn’t stop there. Tumblr is essentially a social network where users can easily like (a la Facebook) but quickly ‘reblog’ your posts. This then puts your article into their blog which may or may not have a wider audience. Either way, it gets your content quickly shared across a plethora of locations. And all you did was click like, what, 3 times? Ridiculously easy.
That’s where teachers come in.
A teacher or education administrator’s time is precious. They barely have time to teach or educate at all these days. It still baffles me how teachers have enough time to use Twitter like they do. But then again, the reason teachers can use Twitter is because it’s so darn simple to use. In fact, you’re not even allowed to post longer messages on Twitter! 140 characters and then you’re shut off.
But what if a teacher needs something a bit more robust than Twitter? Tumblr is a great next step. It’s as simple to use as Twitter, growing in popularity (like Twitter), requires no technical skills, and is quite fun to use. I’ve found more than my fair share of amusing and educaitonal content on Tumblr simply by reading one Tumblr site… checking out another site that reblogged the article….looking at other Tumblr sites who ‘liked’ a post… etc. It’s addictive. Not quite as addictive as Pinterest but definitely just as enjoyable.
Best of all, you don’t actually need to write anything in order to have a Tumblr. You can fill your stream with content published by others simply by clicking the ‘like’ and ‘reblog’ buttons. While this isn’t the ideal scenario, it’s a good way to have a website filled with content without really trying.
I think of Tumblr as a second step. It’s a step beyond Twitter and Facebook but not quite at the same level as WordPress and other larger CMS platforms. Therefore, if you’re looking to enhance your online skills, create a Tumblr once you’re comfortable with Twitter and Facebook. It’s not much harder than using any of those tools.
In terms of classroom application, Tumblr would be a good way for you to share research for projects and assignments. Your students could then follow your Tumblr site and ‘reblog’ items into their personal site.
Or you could have students create multimedia (photos, videos, etc.) and post them onto their Tumblr. Then you could see how many views, likes, and reblogs each one gets. Could be a great way to encourage social media usage in schools using a free web 2.0 tool.
Finally, you could use it to connect with other teachers and education professionals. After just a few Tumblr searches and posts, you’ll find that people start coming out of the woodwork to ‘like’ your content and share it. You can quickly find fellow teachers and education-y folks by simply searching keywords like ‘teacher’ ‘edtech’ and so forth. When you find some good content, be sure to like it and reblog it. That person will then check your site out, start following your Tumblr, etc. Before you know it, you’ll have a whole new PLN on Tumblr!