Have you tried blogging?

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What is a blog?

A student guide to blogging

 

 

 

The term blog is short for weblog and is used to describe online text usually written to inform or persuade its audience of a particular point of view.

Blogging has the potential to enhance, engage and develop thinking and writing within a particular field, as users have the capacity to invite and respond to comment. Engaging others in dialogue within your discipline in this way can help you to develop your academic voice.

As a form of social media, blogs typically use different mediums to increase interest and maximise the persuasive element, including:

  • Online links to external sites which contain related, useful information
  • Discussion forum where participants discuss, review and collaborate on particular topics in discussion threads (discrete topic chains)
  • Images within the page which help to reinforce, or support the topic for discussion
  • Videos use of multimedia resources is common within online blogs to offer an alternative to the written word
  • Tags are a way of grouping common themes and are searchable so that like-minded people can locate the content of your blog
  • Twitter feed embedding a Twitter feed can be a way of further promoting your blog

Tags: #Blogging  #AcademicWriting  #Discussion

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Why blog?

Blogging is a form of social media which enables you to:

  • widely share your thoughts, ideas or research on a particular topic
  • improve your thinking within the academic discipline, through grappling with difficult concepts in your blog
  • improve your writing through regular practise
  • gain feedback on your ideas and on your writing
  • enhance your own thinking through reading and reflecting on the work of your peers

The following short video introduces the idea of collaborating through blogging and how this can enhance your studies.

Blogging about your studies or research can also help you to reflect on the processes involved, and can be a reminder of the progress that you have made in terms of understanding and developing your knowledge.

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Suggested topics for blogging

 

According to research, we engage with our writing differently when we know it is to be published in the public domain (Raith 2009). Try blogging about some of these topics and reflect on how far you think they motivate you to develop your thinking in relation to specific areas of your studies:

  • A lecture/ series of lectures
  • An assignment title
  • A reflection on your placement/ work experience
  • A dissertation proposal
  • An experience unrelated to your studies, such as volunteering

Enable comments so that others can make suggestions on your blog. This collaborative approach may help you to further explore and develop your thinking.

Blogging software: which one?

 

  • WordPress.com is a good place to start. WordPress is easy to install, hosting is free and there are many themes to choose from.
  • Google+ is a social networking site which works via a Google account allowing you to import all of your contacts. It is a site which enables you to create circles of friends, so unlike Facebook or Twitter, you can post direct to a target audience. You can also sign up to view different Communities, which are themed message boards built around a range of interests.
  • Blogger is hosted by Google and requires a Gmail account to enable you to post. The benefits of this are that you gain access to Google+ communities, where like-minded bloggers can share information.
  • Tumblr.com is a micro-blogging site where users can blog through text, images, videos, links to external sites and audio.
  • Medium was developed by the creator of Twitter to allow longer posts than the micro-blogging site’s 140 characters allows. Users can sign in to Medium via Twitter, Facebook or Google, and post to a range of themed message boards. Much of the content on Medium appears to be social comment rather than personal reflection and has a journalistic feel and tone.

Netiquette: Why use this guide?

Before you read on, think about posting to an online discussion board:

Is there anything that you are nervous about?

  • spelling mistakes,
  • sounding confused,
  • repetition of points.

Spend a couple of minutes writing down any concerns you have about engaging in online discussion, then read on.

Posting to a discussion board helps you to engage with the thoughts and ideas of others, and can help you to generate ideas outside of the classroom. Sometimes posting and responding to online discussion boards can be nerve-racking; this guide will help you to think about how you can improve and develop your writing before you submit.

Posting

  • Before posting a response to the forum, talk over the subject with a friend or student from your seminar group to make sure you understand what you are commenting on / writing about.
  • Remember that your first submission to a discussion board doesn’t have to be perfect; it is a starting point, something to get others thinking and talking about.
  • The point of an online discussion is to develop your ideas and contributions as the thread progresses. If you are feeling anxious about posting for the first time, write and contribute a brief point that summarises your thoughts.
  • Proofread your work by reading it out loud before you post it, but online forums tend to be less formal spaces, valuing ideas over standard grammar and spelling, so your writing doesn’t need to be of the standard used for assessed essays or reports.

Responding

When posting responses to an online space, it is important to remember to behave as you would in a face-to-face discussion. Challenging or questioning the validity of a peer’s point or claim is encouraged, as long as you first value the thoughts and opinions of others.

  • Posting a greeting to peers is important to establish a relationship and set an appropriate tone.
  • Online discussions are designed to engage others in conversation outside of the classroom; it can be off-putting then if peers are aggressive or confrontational.
  • Avoid swear words, and slang; such usage may be misinterpreted by others.
  • Challenging or questioning another user’s thoughts and ideas helps to develop thought, however, remember to encourage and acknowledge the other user, and check that you have fully understood their point first.
  • Use of emoticons, if available, can help provide important feedback to other users, ensuring that the tone remains light and friendly.
  • Avoid using capital letters as they can appear confrontational and may cause offence.
  • If you feel that a discussion is becoming inflamed, try taking the moral high-ground and attempt to diffuse the situation. Very little was ever achieved in anger!