In a recent post I mused on some reasons why educators should blog. Since then I've done my official 'thou shalt blog' report (incidentally, I am really enjoying running to Thou Shalt Always Kill which contains the excellent lines 'thou shalt not judge a book by its cover/thou shalt not judge lethal weapon by Danny Glover') in which I added a couple more:
- It exposes the process – much of the community of practice theory argues that being able to participate in a community novices should be able to observe, and to an extent participate with, experts in action. A blog is good means of allowing others to observe some of the less well thought out ideas and ongoing projects of an academic. This applies to both students and other members of staff, as Christopher Semmus argues, blogging represents a good model for mentoring within a university. James Aczel has started a blog for his course H809 during production, which will reveal many of the design decisions taken in the course, and potentially be a useful resource for future students on the course.
- It provides a useful tool for engaging with other technologies – the array of web 2.0 technologies can be quite daunting. However, many of these relate to blogging, and so by keeping a blog one is exposed to these technologies in a meaningful context. The technology required to keep a blog is fairly simple to use, so it is easy to get started, and then once your blog has momentum you may wish to explore some of the related tools and technologies. For instance Technorati is a site for ranking blogs, so you may want to claim your blog in here, and Feedburner is a means of allowing people to subscribe easily to your blog, while Slideshare allows people to embed their powerpoint presentations within their blog postings, and so on. By keeping a blog there is a motivation and a means to engage with many of the newer technologies that have potential benefits for our students.
- It's a good means of getting down, or building up, all those thoughts that never quite get in to journal papers. Either because journals are too restrictive (they'll want lots of data for any claim you make), or because you never get around to it, but I know that I for one, have an idea (or maybe it's an idealet) every day (okay maybe every week - month? go, on year then), which never finds an outlet and is then lost. The blog is a good means of capturing these, and over time they may find their way in to something more research recognisable.
Of all these I think the means of engaging with technology may be the most important. Your blog represents your homestead in the virtual world and even if you don't go in for a new widget every week, you will pick up on things, for instance it would be difficult to be a blogger in any subject and not know about Twitter, say (regardless of what you might think of it). More importantly it places you in 'the network' which you might is where any educator should want to be.