The term ‘blogademia’ is cited by many as being coined by Saper (2006). Sadly however this paper is no longer accessible. I came across it as I was researching this topic having been asked to give a short 15 minute introduction to blogging as a professional tool for academics at Anglia Ruskin University. The term seemed a fitting addition to this blog post.
Why engage with blogs as a professional tool?
- Blogging can help academic writing
- Reading others’ blogs can open up new perspectives
- Reflect on your own development
- Connect with thought leaders
- Provide a forum to critically discuss new ideas
“In this new landscape, the academic of today has many options for communicating the findings of their research: whether to discuss ideas and results in a blog post, upload a working paper before submitting it to a journal, or to use social media to share their findings on the big story of the day.”
Introducing the Impact of LSE Blogs project Arrebola and Mollett 2017
Blogging vs a Website
Adapted from Mollett et al 2017:75
One of the key benefits of creating a blog is that it is very easy to publish new content. Clearly if it is your own you have sole access. However it is becoming increasingly popular to ‘share’ a blog whereby multiple authors contribute to posts. A website that is owned by an organisation, for example a university, tends to have a more complex approach to adding new content – from a technical perspective but also because there are multiple gatekeepers and for good reasons protocols for format and design of content. A valuable alternative is therefore creating a blog. Many institutions now enable WordPress sites and these can be requested via IT services. The URL will include both the university URL and the title of the blog. An example is below – The Social Media for Learning in Higher Education Conference blog.
Why start a Blog?
Why start a blog? Pat Thomson (2015) offers the following reasons suggesting that blogging can help academic writing. Blogging…
- can help you to establish writing as a routine
- allows you to experiment with your writing ‘voice’
- helps you to get to the point
- points you to your reader
- requires you to be concise
- allows you to experiment with forms of writing
- helps you to become a more confident writer
David Perry’s (2015) simple three rules of academic blogging are as follows:
- Pick the right platform
- Write whatever you want
- Write for the sake of writing
Finding something you are interested in and would like to write about is an obvious place to start.
Types of Academic Blogs
Blogs can take a variety of forms:
- Self reflective (the blog could be public or private for your personal benefit)
- Multi-author blogs (MABs) as opposed to single author
- How to guidance
- Discipline focus on your research or learning and teaching activities
- Promotion of publications – books or journal articles
- Learning and teaching (pedagogic research)
- Choose a blogging platform
I’d recommend WordPress, but do explore other options such as Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, Wix, Weebly, WikiSpaces or Google Sites. Other options include LinkedIn, Medium, Facebook.
- Give your blog a name
This needs to be succinct enough so that people will remember it, and also clearly indicate what the content is about.
- Consider buying your own domain name
You can explore the options through WordPress, but there are also other ways to do this. As offers change over time I’d suggest you google this to get the best deal.
- Design your blog using a simple theme
WordPress offers over 100 different free themes to choose from.
- Add an about me page
Assuming you are going to create a public blog and want people to read it, adding your details is a useful addition. Readers may want to discuss your posts and do this offline rather than through the comments.
Help and Support
WordPress offers a comprehensive collection of articles https://en.support.wordpress.com/
- Give each post a compelling title
- Chunk content under sub headers
- Make use of bullet points
- Use images (preferably your own or those with Creative Commons licences https://search.creativecommons.org/)
- Embed YouTube videos or infographic posters
Engaging your audience
- End your post with a call to action (to encourage reader comments, questions and discussion)
- Enable comments (that you can screen first)
- Engage with comments left by readers (or delete the undesirables)
- Link your blog to your Twitter account (to auto tweet new posts)
- Add social media sharing buttons
- Allow users to sign up for email alerts
Monitor engagement using free analytics within the blog
Blogs to explore
Below is just a small selection of blogs I’d recommend you explore both for content but also to see the different styles and approaches that can be taken.
- The SEDA Blog: Supporting and Leading Educational Change https://thesedablog.wordpress.com/
- Helen Webster
- The Ed Techie
- Reflecting Allowed
- Learning with ‘e’s: My thoughts about learning technology and all things digital http://www.steve-wheeler.co.uk/
- Technology Enhanced Learning Blog
- LSE Impact Blog
Arrebola, C. and Mollett, A. (2017) Introducing the Impact of LSE Blogs project.
Mollett, A., Brumley, C., Gilson, C. and Williams, S. (2017) Communicating your research with social media. London: Sage
Perry, D. (2015) 3 Rules of academic blogging
Saper, C. (2006). Blogademia. Reconstruction, 6(4), 1–15.
Thomson, P. (2015) Blogging helps academic writing