How rewarding is academic blogging?

Intro to Web 2.0 @ UB Dental School

Last week’s “Intro to Web 2.0” presentation at the UB Dental School was interesting to say the least… I didn’t feel as much energy from the attendees as I normally do, but they still raised interesting questions.

In my discussions, I always talk about the overarching significance of this Web 2.0 business. I’d talk about the need to go public and build real relationships, which manifest online as conversations. In the singularity context of getting students to have more passion in their subject matter, I talked about letting student take ownership over their work, getting out there on the web, being an expert and earning the public recognition they deserve. Letting ego motivate (a good thing), all this happens with hopefully little interference from the faculty’s part (big yay there!), other than to facilitate and moderate the blogging / wiki-ing / podcasting process.

All this often gets lost when the communication I get revolves around building password-protected blogs, whether or not it would be possible to delete all the student’s blog content when the semester was done or how much time is taken away from your regular workflow when you’re blogging.

It’s really no one’s fault to think that Web 2.0 is merely a technological thing rather than a philosophical one, and patience is often required to show how it works. From my experience, it’s really necessary to show real-life examples to get the point across. In my case, I often show how Alex Halavais conducts his classes via the Informatics blog server which he put together, and it didn’t hurt to impress upon others how much value I got out of my own blog.

While it is unlikely that all academic blogs go as planned, the real question remains as to whether the risk is worth the reward. I need to find out how well-rewarded academic bloggers are. Any takers?

8 thoughts on “How rewarding is academic blogging?

  1. it depends i guess, what you meant by academic blogging and your idea of rewarding. in many sense of the word, when i actually blog about my essays, try to pan out my thoughts and so on, i felt more compelled to expound on everything, which distracts me.

    on the other hand though, they do coerce me into finishing my essays on time because i also have to upload it to the server for friends to have a look (similar interests). at the end of the day, i can always go back and reflect on my thoughts, work out where i go wrong, where it went right… my academic growth so to say.

    my lecturers though, does not have the time for all these academic blogging. to some, so they say, they felt it makes the students more lazy. they are also the ones who aren’t very technologically abled (not even knowing how to hook up the cables properly to the net).

    for those who are more inclined towards using techonology, both the time factor and the financial bits (university isn’t very rich in my area) proves to be the daunting point. i know this raises an eyebrow: blogging is free for the most part. but concerns comes in for copyrights and so on then.

    i can go on and on… but i will stop making sense some time soon ­čśŤ

  2. In Tipperary Institute we have our students take ownership of their blogging/podcasting through http://www.podcasting.ie. Second level (high school) and third level (College) students have been creating content for this site for the past 9 months. Bernie Goldbach (irish.typepad.com) also maintain space to allow student to blog and comment using apps such as commentcast (audio comments for websites) As part of his media writing course students have to blog and create audio content.

    From a research point of view I use http://www.irishsilicon.com to share aspects of my phd research with the wider community, I would describe the site as a k-log instead of blog. My audience figures are low but come from a very niche area i.e. network processor/ system on chip simulation. Through this medium I have struck up several relationships with other Academic Institutions world wide as well as industry,

  3. Panda: These are pretty real issues you’ve mentioned. For the blog newbies, they would see blogging as taking up more of their time. Veteran bloggers incorporate blogging into their workflow, and in many case, helps them think alound and archive their thoughts. I see those as immediate benefits… but there are certainly more.

    Liam: That podcasting.ie blogging/podcasting initiative seems to be off the hook. “Bitchcast”!?! Very liberal, very interesting for a class to embrace such wide ranging topics. Bottomline though, what have the instructor and students gained from all this? Active / Participatory learning?

    From a personal standpoint, I share similar plus points for blogging my work. A lot of it has to do with building up a social network, increasing an individual’s social capital.

  4. Actually, I think that academics should blog because it helps to put their complex and mindboggling ideas into simple statements. Besides, you can use it as a sounding board to test new ideas, like what I did with one of my articles. I am planning to teach a course with my students blogging about the content.

  5. yes, it test new ideas. and it also changes a bit the ‘prose style.’ people write differently when they have an immediate audience.

    maybe more quickly. a lot of novelist write installments of their novels in magazines and journals just so that they become more disciplined.

    also, the exhibitionism of the blog makes the prose a little bit too stylish (hence, sometimes, a little bit too ‘false’).

    when you write an academic paper alone, by yourself, i see that the prose style becomes a little bit schizophrenic and too ‘personal.’

  6. In academia your are only rewarded for publishing papers in good journal. Pragmatically, there's no reward for blogging. You may think that blogging may help to network (e.g. find a co-author), but I doubt academics read blogs. They are too busy publishing papers in top journals.

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