Academic Blogging is a “Good Thing”

Well…I’m back to this sooner than I thought. I figured I would post to the blog a couple times per week to get up and rolling. But nooooo…today I get a link about professional blogging in the TechRhet listserv (a listserve for rhetoric and composition scholars who teach with and study technologies, specifically primarily technologies, archives located at: http://www.interversity.org/lists/techrhet/archives.html). The link leads to an article from The Boston Globe: http://bostonworks.boston.com/news/articles/2006/04/16/blogs_essential_to_a_good_career/. According to it I should be blogging daily for the first couple of months. I guess this is as good as any distraction from dissertating and grading 😉

And although The Chronicle of Higher Education (http://chronicle.com/) has had a series of articles discussing the pitfalls of blogging while trying to advance an academic degree (http://chronicle.com/weekly/v52/i02/02c00301.htm …one among many, I searched with “blog and career”), I still think blogging is good and useful for all the reasons the Boston Globe article discusses. I really like the ethical point about blogging making the world a better place. In my first posting I discussed my concept of Kosmic Kharma…I think the article’s point is similar. And…it begins to make my point (one of the points I want to develop and argue for within this blog as a whole) that blogging is a very appropriate venue for “publishing” the scholarship of teaching and learning.

In various articles about the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning scholars distinguish between scholarly teaching and the scholarship of teaching. For example, in “From Minsk to Pinsk” (http://education.cortland.edu/faculty/slekart/shulman.pdf), Shulman discusses that teaching is scholarly when it is grounded in appropriate research and literature and that the scholarship of teaching is:

when our work as teachers becomes public, peer-reviewed and critiqued, and exchanged with other members of our professional communities so they, in turn, can build on our work. These are the qualities of all scholarship.

I believe that blogs can radically reshape the scholarship of teaching and learning for a couple of reasons.

First, instead of waiting to publish everything that you have learned from your reflective study of your own teaching practices until the end of a course, you can regularly journal about your experiences as you go. Are these less polished, more raw, responses to the “research” that is the teaching and learning going on in your class? Absolutely; however, they are probably more detailed about specific practices and specific responses in a way that you can’t be in the average 30 page peer reviewed article.

Second, as a community college faculty member—who does not get regularly “paid” to conduct research—blogging is a quicker, more readily available method for publishing the “results” of work done with and in my classroom.

However, it is this “quickness w/o peer review” that worries many scholars I talk to. Yeah, blogs can just be the rant and raves (oh wait, isn’t that what I said this blog is?) of any ‘ol individual with access to the internet; however, just like regular webpages…there are “good” and “bad” blogs. We talk about the need for our students to be information literate…shouldn’t we be also? But back to the point, peer review. Shulman’s definition emphasizes “peer review” and “critique.” That is possible with blogs; however, it is not inherent (as with peer review journals). Obviously the technology has to support it (ie, the blog must have a reply feature), but there also has to be readers. But this brings me back full circle to the article from The Boston Globe…it takes time to build readers. I write this knowing that I don’t yet have many, if any, readers…but if I’m diligent, they will come. And eventually, they will read, question, respond, reflect, link to, ping back, etc…basically “critique.” And isn’t this form of critique by colleague a form of peer review?

References:

Blogs ‘essential’ to a good career. (2006, April 16). The Boston Globe. Retrieved April 18, 2006 from http://www.boston.com/

Shulman, L. (2000). From minsk to pinsk: Why a scholarship of teaching and learning? The Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 1(1), 48-53. Retrieved April 18, 2006, from http://education.cortland.edu/faculty/slekart/shulman.pdf

Up Next?: See above, or I guess technically below, but also recognize how easily that changed…isn’t that the beauty of it all?

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