It is amazing to me how this weblog has really opened new communication channels to my constituents and to others I had not anticipated. Before the weblog, my communications were either emails to my mailing list or information on my website. Unless you were one of my almost 800 email subscribers, you probably never saw my school news items.
With the launch of the weblog, I have found myself sending out more substantial information more regularly (by all channels). Why? Well a weblog makes it easy to get out a quick news item and a picture. Also, I now often send an email with an additional link to the weblog version of the message so people can comment online. Many more people still prefer to reply to my email, but a few constituents have started providing public feedback on the weblog. Frankly, that was all I expected in the beginning, a few constituents chiming in with comments.
What I didn't expect was increased attention by the news media (they want stories), that other bloggers would pick up my stories and talk about local school issues on their blogs, and that I would draw some national attention to our school division. Waldo told me this would happen, I just didn't see it when I started last summer. At the time he said, "I'm glad you're doing this -- it's wonderful in ways that will not be clear for some time." Very true.
On the national front, the National School Board Association (NSBA) has invited me to come to their 2006 conference to participate in a blogging panel and they had some very nice things to say about my weblog in a posting this week. This was an example where I posted a quick item about a Washington Post article. In the week that followed, a good conversation started on another local weblog, a group of government students at one of our high schools wrote to ask for a meeting about the issue, a local radio station asked me to come on the air to talk about the matter, and the NSBA learned about the article and shared it on their weblog. Good stuff.
Now if I can just get someone podcasting our board meetings... Brian Wheeler