This is a question that has been asked by Alice MacGillivray in one of the CPsquare community forums and an interesting discussion is going on there. It seemed to me that this question is very relevant to recent discussions in some people’s blogs about reasons for blogging. Do discussions happen in blogs or is it a different type of communication? Alice’s question was about posts made in any context, e.g, blogs, twitter, discussion forums etc.
In relation to blogging, this question gets at why people might receive comments on their blog.
This was my response to Alice in the CPsquare forum in relation to my work as an online tutor:
Hi Alice – this is a really interesting question. I work online all the time, as an online facilitator for HE courses in the UK, so this question is one I am always asking myself. What will my students find meaningful or valuable? I think we need to separate out meaningful from valuable and perhaps understand what we mean by these terms.
Thinking about how to answer your question, I have gone to my own experience online. For me, the post has to resonate with my own experience in some way. It has to make a connection, either to my understanding and experience of the subject or in a social capacity. This initial connection makes the post meaningful and makes me read on.
Deciding whether a post is valuable or not is slightly different. I have to relate the post to my own context, experience and needs and determine whether the post will have an effect on any of these. As a tutor online I try to connect with my student. To do this I try to find out as much as I can about them so that I can connect with them on a personal level and post something that resonates with their experience and is meaningful. I think this initial relationship building can help successive posts to become more meaningful and hopefully valuable.
Whether or not my posts are valuable is more complicated. It depends on my level of experience, knowledge, understanding and expertise compared to theirs and whether or not what I have to say fits their current context of what they need.
This was a quick and ‘off the top of my head’ response to Alice, and there is obviously a lot more to it than this. Definitely worth further thought.