Category Archives: Blogs

Why blog?

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Earlier this summer I worked together with a colleague from the Communication Office on developing and running a half-day workshop on blogging – why do people blog? What do we need to consider when blogging?

Photo by anniemole, available under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.

The aim of the session was to be interactive – we experimented using open-space learning techniques to engage participants in discussions and debate about blogging. The session was also supported with a number of on-line resources and discussions that provide more of an insight into issues people face when blogging and advice for people new to blogging. These include a Why blog?blog and a Why Blog? resource bank.

Staff from a variety of different backgrounds and blogging experiences attended and we had some very interesting debates around the opportunities and challenges that blogging presented. It was really interesting to hear about the different types of blogs that exist – why people felt that they should blog and what people thought about existing blogs.

For me – there are a number of obstacles to blogging – perhaps the most challenging one is time. As is demonstrated with this blog – I start out with good intentions – time goes by and I have only attempted several posts. I am also aware of the benefits of blogging – previously I kept a blog for my chartership although only a handful of people had access to the posts – over two years I built up a really valuable collection of reflections and was able to chart my professional development – it enabled me to write my portfolio easily. When I decided to start a blog and open it up to the world I think I lost my focus a little. I worried about the content – and what people may think spending too long considering how I was going to say something and therefore blogging no longer became something simple and quick.

Through developing the session with Amy – a very active blogger I started to rethink the way I have dealt with blogging in the past and see the real benefits this process can have. Following my own advice I need to do the following things:

  1. Identify the purpose of my blog
  2. Keep the posts short
  3. Post regularly (get scheduling)
  4. Promote my blog (through social media etc.)
  5. Enjoy blogging.

Online Identity

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Earlier last month I attended an OCSLD Digital day webinar on ‘Online Identity‘. The format for the day included a number of presentations activities and discussions around this area. Before the session we were asked to put together an image portraying our online identity – this got me thinking… I have always been conscious of my online identity and have two distinct areas – my personal identity and my professional identity on-line. (see below)

Online Identity Mindmap

The idea behind this division was that I felt my work colleagues did not necessarily want to hear about what I was doing at the weekend and likewise my friends did not really need to hear what I was up to at work. However more recently these distinct boundaries have become blurred – friends have found me on Twitter and Facebook is gradually creeping into my work life. The webinar opened up the issue of whether this distinction should be made – and how we in whatever domain we need to be responsible for our own digital footprint. The focus was on the philosophy behind the on-line identity and how we potentially manage it. For me I came away with more questions than answers – but the need to continue discussions and raise people’s awareness of the potential (future) impact of their on-line identity is very important.

As an aside the webinar was an interesting experience in itself – 5 hours of sessions where participation and ongoing engagement was strongly encouraged. The content focused small presentations followed by discussions and an activity in the middle. It was a great way to participate in an on-line learning space but at times technology could be a little frustrating (it took me a while to get my microphone working). It was a little too long – unlike face to face sessions I think you need to have short bursts of activity and information at regular periods. But it was a very interesting experience. 🙂

Teaching with blogs

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Last Wednesday I attended a really interesting session as part of Warwick’s Windows on Teaching events. The talk was from two Postgraduate Researchers who have teaching responsibilities and focused on how they utilised blogs in their teaching. Peter focused on his experiences of using blogs for seminars whilst Dilip spoke about the broader social media context and how other tools have been/could be utilised for teaching and learning. A video of the presentation can be found here.

The idea of a flexible “third space” for teaching and learning really appeals to me  as it gives that flexibility to the learner and provides a resource bank of organised information. It is no new idea – a quick Google search found numerous presentations and resources on the subject (one of which I have shared below).

The Windows on Teaching session got me thinking – I have used blogs in the past for my own cpd or as a participant on a course whereby our contributions were assessed. From a personal point of view I have found them really useful but the main challenge has been keeping them up to date. My experiences of being involved in blogs is from the perspective of a participant – the idea of a blog as a dynamic information resource really appeals. But how do you measure the success of a blog for teaching and learning also intrigues me – do you base the success on the number of comments or hits to your blog? Is it more about informal feedback you receive?

Ultimately the session re-inspired me to get back to blogs and Twitter more for my own reflections but also how I can these tools in the future.