Blogging offers a number of pedagogical benefits within a university context, such as reflective practice and learning to write for a multiplicity of audiences. Writing online can make your thought processes explicit, demonstrating the development of your ideas and understanding over time. Sharing blogs (particularly on the open web) functions as a form of networked participatory scholarship, and can help build professional identity, community, and collegiality, though we acknowledge that not all individuals experience open scholarship in the same way and that there are some risks inherent in open practice.
At the University of Edinburgh, we worked with academic colleagues, to take a broad view of the different uses of blogs, including individual reflective writing, writing for public audiences, group writing and showcasing project/research work to develop a new academic blogging service which was launched in October 2018. The service incorporates many existing tools we already use to support blogging (i.e. those built into our VLE and portfolio platforms), improved documentation, the development of new digital skills workshops and materials, along with a brand new centrally supported WordPress platform (blogs.ed.ac.uk) to support types of blogging that were not well catered for previously. The philosophy of our new blogging platform was to start from a position of openness and trust, allowing staff and students to develop their own ‘voice’. Rather than being restrictive from the outset, we instead developed policies and processes to deal with any contravention of the University’s computing regulations or other inappropriate use of the platform.
Our new University Web Strategy, has an “Influential Voices” theme which recognises the potential and impact for students and staff having an online presence for their work. It was important for us to provide the tools to allow staff and students to develop this voice on a platform which was easy to use, where they could focus more on what they wanted to say and less on the complexities of the technology.
As part of this service, we are encouraging the publication of openly-licensed content through the availability of plugins to apply open licences to content and media, and as part of the service, we’ve been creating training materials, blog posts and even open source code that can be reused by others within the institution and beyond.
Attendees of this session will gain an understanding of the context and vision for our new service, and see a comparison between the service and some of the more tightly controlled services provided by the University. We’ll also discuss the processes and policies we’ve put into place to deal with any uses of the service which fall outside of our University computing regulations and explore some of the risks associated with open network scholarship (such as online hostility and discrimination). We’ll review the first year of the service, and reflect on the opportunities and challenges we’ve encountered during the development and roll out of the service.
Anne-Marie Scott, Teaching Matters (2019): https://www.teaching-matters-blog.ed.ac.uk/mini-series-academic-blogging-at-university-of-edinburgh/
Kerawalla, L., Minocha, S., Conole, G., Kirkup, G., Schencks, M., & Sclater, N. (2007). Exploring students’ understanding of how blogs and blogging can support distance learning in Higher Education. Retrieved from https://core.ac.uk/display/231
Deborah Lupton (2014) – This Sociological Life – Research on academic blogging: what does it reveal? – https://simplysociology.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/research-on-academic-blogging-what-does-it-reveal/
Julie Northam (2012) – The benefits of academic blogging – should you enter the blogosphere?! – https://blogs.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/2012/01/11/the-benefits-of-academic-blogging-should-you-enter-the-blogosphere/
University of Edinburgh’s web strategy – https://www.wiki.ed.ac.uk/display/WSandG/Web+Strategy
Webinar by Catherine Cronin & Bonnie Stewart, “Openness and Prestige” – https://teachcom.myblog.arts.ac.uk/openness/
Bonnie Stewart (2015) – The Shifting Consequences of Twitter Scholarship, Bonnie Stewart – http://hybridpedagogy.org/in-public-the-shifting-consequences-of-twitter-scholarship/
Anastasia Salter (2015) – Re-evaluating the Risks of Public Scholarship – https://www.chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/re-evaluating-the-risks-of-public-scholarship/60229