Inspired by people and enabled by technology. I believe we’re looking at a revolution in academic information sharing.
A good research topic might be to trace the history of the Blog and describe its evolution as a platform for discourse. I had my first blog in 2002, when I was a high school student and the cool thing to do was create a space to talk about ourselves and life in general.
Fast forward 15 years and blogging is making waves as a cutting edge tool for learning and engagement in the classroom. This year alone, I have had blogging requirements in 3 courses I have taken and a class blog is being developed in the course I am a research assistant for. There are so many different applications for blogs: hobbyists, artists, and poets need a place to share as much as any academic driven by their research. Maybe blogging’s most important benefit is that it provides a space for people to be able to share, collaborate, and discuss the things in their lives that they are most passionate about, as Tim Hitchcock, academic humanist, writes in his article about new technologies like blogs and Twitter benefit the academia. Author and entrepreneur Seth Godin gives a compelling argument in under two minutes in this interview with Tom Peters: there is no better time to be writing than right now. We could all use the practice at communicating ourselves. With a little bit of time and effort, anyone can develop a rich and detailed website.
But it’s more than that, there are droves of experts who have made their life’s work communications and how to utilize them effectively in these modern times.
One of my biggest blogging challenges is myself. I get in my own way, second-guessing and attempting to perfect every piece of writing before publishing. I often spend so much time worrying over how I am trying to make a point, that I waste valuable working minutes (hours) staring at a computer screen and a pile of hand-written notes. I would be better off to just get the words and ideas out–no matter how rough they are–and then take time afterwards to refine. It’s easier to edit if you have something TO edit.
While reading Doug Belshaw’s Working openly on the web: a manifesto I was thinking about my own challenges to blogging and I was surprised because this manifesto was so simplistic. In 3 short points, Belshaw sets up a recipe for effective writing online: 1 control your own digital capital, 2 work openly, 3 create content that both humans and machines can read. Here I am worrying about style, and there are experts who are advising for writers to consider robots who mine the internet for content. And then this got me thinking: what does a robot look for, anyways?
The first day of class was an amazing experience. I am beginning to think of teaching in new ways and we haven’t even dug deep into the course content yet! I see the trend in academia emphasizing blogs more and more–as well as other technologies–instead of solely relying on peer-reviewed published works, I see academics using these platforms as a way to jump right to the point, sharing ideas as they happen in near-real time. There are new, innovative ways to share information and study that are hitting the market every day. Take for instance, Hypothes.is a tool designed to annotate the web! With this program, collaborators can take and share notes and ideas right on a webpage! This is the real beauty of Networked Learning, where technology allows students, faculty, and learners alike to all come together in the same sphere to read, comment, write, and share ideas-digitally.