BlogOz Blogknot – Blogging Research

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The first breakout session I attended at blogoz had the intricate title ‘Researching Blogging and Blogging Research’. The three panelists were Axel Bruns, Jean Burgess, and Melissa Gregg. All are experienced bloggers in an academic context.

There was much discussion about the place of blogging as an essential tool in graduate student and postdoctoral life and everyday activity. While there was some element of elitism in the early days a blog helps break the isolation of an academic researcher, helps publicise thoughts to a wider audience and provides a space for dialogue. A blog is now a necessary tool for PhD students to develop their research. the blog posts also become a valuable information repository for paper and thesis publication and the blog structure becomes an information management tool.

An amusing hint urges graduate students to make sure to mention famous scholars in their blogs. The widespread blog searching tools inevitably bring such posts to the famous scholars’ attention and they are often encouraged to reply via the comments on the original posts. Another property of blogs is that you can be sitting on the bus next to a reader of your blog without ever knowing!

Another spectre raised concerns treating blog posts, that presumably met some minimum standard, as academic publications. The pressures of the Research Quality Framework might force this thinking. I personally support this concept as blog posts crafted to the same standards of scholarship as paper publications might very well form valuable micropublications. A viable archiving and referencing mechanism would also be needed for the blog-post-as-micropublication to work.

Axel also led us on a multi-faceted discussion about how blog connectivity might be measured and how the impact of this connectivity might be observed. He showed us the graphical output of some proximity analyses of political blogs with Andrew Barlett’s blog appearing prominently. Other tools to be mentioned were Textmap, Leximancer and the work of the Association of Computational Linguistics. We were teased by hints of a soon to be announced tool from local Gold Coast stealth company distIP housed in inQbator in Varsity Lakes. distIP is using some of the IP from the DSTC which is now closed down.

I raised the research I am doing with using undergraduate blogging for teaching and learning. While the blogging skill was thought to be essential for all students there was some reservation about ‘forcing’ them to blog.

At the end of the session I was left with the impression that several of the academic bloggers lamented the good old days when fewer blogs existed and small, highly specialised groups of bloggers were the norm. It is clear that most postgraduate students should now be blogging as a matter of course.

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About Michael Rees
Academic in IT interested in Web 2.0 and social media

8 Responses to BlogOz Blogknot – Blogging Research

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  5. mhward says:

    Why do you think that p/g students should be expected to blog as a matter of course? I know what the benefits are for the motivated, but what do you think they would be for the unmotivated? And would these blogs be for their own reflection, or would they be sharing them with their supervisor/lecturers/peers/classmates? I’m interested in your ideas on this.

  6. mrees says:

    For all students, not just postgraduates, blogging is useful as a professional journal, recording their academic progress and learning problems. Properly categorised the blog posts can be harvested for assessment and revision purposes, as a repository of useful resources, progress reports and eventually their resumes. Exposing their thoughts to others for comment is a useful but secondary outcome. Developing communication skills by blogging is also vital, especially as they are likely to use blogs in their professional careers.

  7. mhward says:

    Useful for p/g students, yes. Assessment tool, yes in certain circumstances. It depends what you are trying to assess – blogs are useful for assessing reflexive thinking, written expression and critical reading, but not for the ability to figure out equations or read biological samples. There is no tool that will do everything in education, and I really agree that everyone is going to use blogs in their professional careers – doctors? lawyers? small business owners? Blogs are interesting and useful, but hardly critical to anyone’s professional life. I can’t see that changing.

    What you are talking about seems to me to be e-portfolios, which aren’t blogs although they may contain blogs. They are a special kind of software that will do everything you suggest. Blogs are only part of the story.

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