Why we blog

MiraCosta Online Teaching Programme

A month or two ago I was approached by Pilar Hernandez of the POT Cert team, asking me if I would be willing to make a contribution to the course in Week 21, which after some hesitation I agreed to do.

This invitation has spurred me on to get involved with the POTCert class which starts next Monday 1st September and finishes at the end of April 2013.  Last night I attended a pre-course meeting in Collaborate in which the course convenors and a few course participants discussed why we blog.

Recording of the Collaborate meetup

The reason for this discussion was that a requirement for the certificate is

  • Weekly blogging on assigned topics, including viewing workshop videos and reading online articles about online teaching as a discipline — posts should include reflections, links, embedded elements.
  • Commenting on other participants’ posts as part of the online teaching community.

Participants are also asked to tag blog posts with ‘potcert’

It could be that some of the 22+ participants already signed up for the course have never blogged before, so how will they feel. This prompted me to look back at my first few posts on this blog (‘Jenny Connected’) to try and remember what I felt like and how I approached this new experience. I am surprised at how short some of those posts are and I can sense from the tone of them that I was writing for me, i.e. I was initially unaware that there is an audience out there. At that time I couldn’t imagine that anyone would be interested in anything I wrote. ‘Openness’ didn’t have any meaning for me, since it was outside my online experience. In fact it was a shock when I received a challenging comment on an early post –  quite a wake up call. After that, I persisted with blogging but became more careful about what I posted. I think that early experience, as well as my own personality and educational philosophy, determined the way I blog and my reasons for blogging, which are principally to keep a record of my reflections on my own learning, and more  latterly to try and share the interesting connections I make through making use of hyperlinks in my posts.

This is a video that I made for the FSLT12 open online course that I worked on in June of this year, which explains a little about why I blog – but there are many different reasons for blogging and different ways of blogging and it was interesting at the ‘meetup’ last night to hear other people’s reasons for blogging and how they go about it.

Here is a summary of some the ideas:

  • to serve as a substitute for a poor memory, by aggregating interesting ideas and links into one location thus creating a personal searchable digital library, e.g. Lisa Lane’s blog
  • to comment on and discuss other people’s ideas
  • to play with tools and ideas
  • for thinking out loud and working with others on half-baked ideas – see Alan Levine’s blog (this is how he described his blog – I am not being critical :-))
  • to share academic writing – I have used my blog in this way
  • for role-playing
  • for personal and/or professional purposes, e.g. a cookery blog, a research blog
  • for developing a personal brand
  • for messaging and publication
  • for networking
  • as a place to openly make and share mistakes and collaboratively learn through this

Blog posts can be as short or as long as we like. They can include images, videos, sound or not, as we prefer. They can minimize the use of text or be an ‘orgy’ of writing, or somewhere in between, as suits our personal learning styles. They can include details about our personal lives or focus only on professional topics, as we wish.

There is no one right way to blog.

For me, I look for sincerity, honesty, fairness and critical thinking around a topic that interests me in other people’s blog posts and that is also how I try to blog myself. I don’t let myself be intimidated by other people’s blogs – but I do explore them and try and learn from how others have done it. Everyone finds their voice and expresses it in a way that is unique to them – thank goodness. It’s the diversity in the blogosphere that makes it such a rich and rewarding learning environment.

12 thoughts on “Why we blog

  1. Todd Conaway August 31, 2012 / 12:06 am

    Wow, nice post!

    It is also a great note-taking space. I attended a conference last summer and completed this: http://nausilt11.wordpress.com/

    I took notes on the pages and then fine tuned them in the evening and shortly after the event. I was able to share the site with my colleagues. And You!

  2. jennymackness August 31, 2012 / 6:47 am

    Thanks Todd. I have added note-taking to the list.
    I enjoyed the meetup and found the discussion stimulating.
    Looking forward to following the course.
    Jenny

  3. FilodeBolsillo August 31, 2012 / 4:07 pm

    It is a very nice post Jenny. I am agree with all the descriptions you did about the blogging type, and also that often we mixed one blog type with another, probably, till we find our own. This is my case.

    Thanks,
    Xavier

  4. Jim Stauffer August 31, 2012 / 10:10 pm

    Very complete summary of the salient points of the session – and with links. I think what you said about learning from other blogs without being intimidated. presents a great balance – if I can only achieve it.

  5. Cris September 1, 2012 / 4:55 am

    I’d think that C. S. Lewis’s explanation for why we read might apply to why we blog. We blog to know we’re not alone . . .

  6. jennymackness September 1, 2012 / 7:04 am

    Thanks Xavier, Jim and Cris for your comments. The list is growing 🙂
    Jenny

  7. Sonya September 1, 2012 / 1:42 pm

    Thanks, Jenny. This articulate post really helps as I try to make sense of a new approach to reflection — you’ve definitely created a resource to bookmark for returning to think about again.

  8. jennymackness September 2, 2012 / 7:30 am

    Thanks to you too Sonya. Do you have a blog? Jenny

  9. Sonya September 2, 2012 / 7:53 pm

    I’ve just started one as part of a class. There’s a lot to consider as I adjust to reflecting in an environment that blurs private and public. I’m at reconcilingmatters.wordpress.com Thanks again for your post. It’s given me a lot to think about….

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