The blog has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a ‘web log’.  It’s now firmly entrenched in our higher education sector.  Here are some of the ways blogging is in Higher Ed’s blood.

Reaching out

These days, blogging is well-established as an academic outreach and impact activity. Academics use blogs ‘translate’ their work for a non-academic audience or test it in the public domain. This includes a multi-authored blog like The Conversation, or a single-author blog like Psychology Professor Todd Kashdan’s blog.

The ‘Global Common Room’

Pat Thompson and Inger Mewburn argue that, in actual fact, ‘most academics are blogging for professionals peers, rather than for the public in any general sense.’  They see one of the functions of the blogsphere as a ‘global common room’ – a space for discussion critique of the current state of academia.

Honing your writing craft

Blogging is increasingly being used as a way to develop and refine the academic writing practice. It could be seen as a sort of safe space, a way to practice before subjecting yourself to the rigours of academic publishing. See the THE’s Seven reasons why blogging can make you a better academic writer, or the Thesis Whisperer’s Social Media and your PhD.

An illustration of students reading a treatise on anatomy, physiology, and hygiene from 1849.
Image from page 56 of “A treatise on anatomy, physiology, and hygiene : designed for colleges, academies, and families” (1849)

A learning activity for a course

Whether it happens within the gated community of your institution’s Learning Management System, or on the open plains of the interwebs, blogging a recognised learning activity for students. See a student perspective from Macquarie University.

Beyond the course

Blogging as an educator can also way to build and sustain a community of learners. See for example the Harvard Professor Greg Mankiw‘s site. Mankiw positions his blog as way to share ideas and maintain connections with his current and former students.

Teaching Practice

And finally, there’s blogging about teaching and learning.  This can happen from the perspective of an individual e.g., or an organisation e.g. Stanford’s Teaching Talk, University of Edinburgh’s Teaching Matters, USyd’s Teaching @ Sydney, and Macquarie’s Teche.  This multi-author, professional style blog (of which this publication is an example), is being blamed for the death of the ‘old school’ blog. Oops.

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