Friday, 11 December 2015

Why I blog

Image by andyp uk on flickr 
A couple of weeks ago, as part of an informal lunchtime conversation session on the topic of Academic Blogging, Simon Warren (@worried_teacher) invited me to speak, along with John Danaher (@JohnDanaher), on my blogging experiences. This forced me to take some time and reflect on my own practice as a blogger, what I blog about and why. So, thank you Simon for giving me the purpose to reflect.

John blogs at and is a prolific blogger. He admits to spending between 10 to 15 hours per week on his blog, writing an average of 2 lengthy posts each week. His writing is habitual and he starts most days writing at least 1000 words. He writes for research purposes and much of what he writes is repurposed for papers and articles. 

Clearly I am not nearly in the same league as John Danaher, but listening to him speak, I realised that some of our reasons for blogging are similar. 

The LearnTechGalway blog

This blog first started as a conference blog in May 2007, and has since accumulated more than 400 posts, with various authors from the Learning Technologies team at NUI Galway. We use the blog to document our work; to highlight and showcase the work of others; to share information about upcoming events; to document events we've hosted or attended; and to network with other groups.

The audience for the blog is the university community at NUIG and a broader network of academic, academic-related and educational technology people nationally and internationally.

Writing for me

But actually, my primary audience is myself! As a non-academic, there is not the same pressure on me to write; but as a former academic (who is still interested in research) I find that blogging provides me a platform to articulate and make sense of the world around me. John described something similar - he uses his blog to explain things to himself. 

When I first started blogging (in 2007), my contributions were short and factual. I blogged about news, gave details on upcoming events and wrote up conference reports. The conference and event reports developed as I started to reflect more, and began to put my ideas in writing. As my online identity continues to develop, through blogging and Twitter and other social tools, my blogger's voice has also continued to develop. It is still not a confident voice, but that is something that I would like to work on. 

So, blogging, for me, supports my own professional self development, allowing me to reflect, and helping me to shape my identity, both online and in real life.

Me as an open practitioner

It has also become important to me that I reflect openly and I'm working to become more of an open practitioner. This is not necessarily a comfortable place to be, especially as a woman online. But through blogging and twitter in particular I have developed a pretty good (and constantly shifting) personal learning network (PLN).

The value of the network is manifest in multiple ways. The feedback from comments on the blog or on twitter (or LinkedIn or Medium or wherever they happen to be) reminds me that I'm part of a wider community, but also supports the development of my thinking. Blogging can also result in unexpected opportunities for research or collaborative work, such as my chapter in David Hopkins' Really Useful #EdTech Book last year.

This post has taken me a couple of weeks to complete (though you wouldn't know that to read it). Yesterday I had the immense pleasure of hearing Joseph O'Connor speak at the National Summit for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. As well as providing the hugely accurate description Writing is like attempting to juggle with mud he also said

Learning is a way of seeing, again, a way of looking at the world 

I think blogging does this too. And blogging is part of my learning.

See Also..

Can blogging be academically valuable - by John Danaher

Blogging helps academic writing - by Pat Thomson

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