Reflections on Buddy-Blogging
Over the last few years, I have examined how I have been blogging, and what has helped me improve, and have developed a number of activities that have aided me with fuller utilization of the blogging tools.
From conversations with colleagues, time is a serious barrier to full participation. There is an interest in developing the skills to blog in the open about one’s professional interests, blog as a participant in MOOCs (newly developed Massive Open Online Courses), and blog passionately about the things that matter to you, and continuously learn and develop as a lifelong learner. But what is needed is a way to connect the diverse interests we have into an integrated whole, a way of coordinating our learning efforts in a way that enables us to keep blogging past the courses and programs we finish, and past the immediate work-related tasks and projects. We require a way to integrate these diverse experiences into a life-blog, something we can review and learn from. In effect, the goal is to use the personal publishing tool for lifelong learning.
Another thing I have noticed is that bloggers confine themselves to the role they have assigned themselves: the blog is an academic blog, so I blog in an academic way, for an academic audience. Or you blog in a more casual way, venting and giving opinions, but steer away from reporting events like conferences. One useful element about the mentoring is that I would encourage you and support you as you try on different roles, and blog in other contexts, but within a safe, secure online setting.
Not everyone needs to blog in the open, to publish personal or professional content for sharing with an audience. But it helps to work with someone to give you the skills to explore the blogging tool that enables you to engage in effective blogging for formal learning, for the workplace, as well as for lifelong identity construction.
This is an area that has begun to emerge: whare can we engage in blogging for identity construction? Where might we take courses or learn how to systematically document and reflect on our life experiences over decades, over the lifespan? Hints of this has begun to emerge on the web, as more bloggers begin to explore and innovate new, creative ways for self-expression. Techniques such as narratives, story-building, personal analytics, are all elements of a different type of blogging activity.
I would like to offer my experience as both an academic blogger and as a personal blogger. I have been using blogs in a number of formal academic settings: cohorts, seminars, independent studies, e-portfolio preparation, MOOCs and collaborative research. I have also been blogging independently on adult literacy issues, sharing my thoughts as a literacy practitioner about using technology for instruction. I have also been blogging passionately about non-work activities and interests.
My own philosophy about using blogs is that we need to first acquire the confidence and skills to blog for knowledge-building, network-building, and identity-building if we are to successfully transfer the formal skills learned in online classrooms to the workplace, the community, and to the things that ultimately matter to us over our lifespan.
I began to recognize the increasing importance of self-talk, of recording one’s learning processes. We need to attend to the processes of collecting, evaluating and selecting content for knowledge-building, whether it be for studies, work, community service or lifelong learning. We also need to tap into resources, and track and monitor how we navigate the online resources. Thus, way-making, data-gathering, and sense-making are all involved when learning how to systematically organize one’s own knowledge-building activities.
We also need to engage in network-building, to develop our contacts with others, to engage in a greater community, to give back and participate and contribute. Stephen Downes refers to the ARRFF (Aggregate, Re-Use, Remix, Feed-Forward) activities as key elements of becoming an effective networked learner. I think we need to embrace the different kinds of blogging that enables us to connect with ourselves and others.