I gave two Instructional Technology talks recently, one formal and one spontaneous.
The formal one was a presentation to our USF Wikis and Blogs group on “Pro Blogging for Dorks Academics”. I talked about the main tradeoffs I see for academic blogging:
- The personal vs. professional balance
- The person vs. topic focus
I also talked about why academic blogging has been valuable for me:
- Self-expression – the usual reason to blog, but looking back over a year’s worth of posts, categories, topics and tags gives you a new perspective on your interests. Writing practice doesn’t hurt either.
- Republishing – I’ve had at least one example of a conference paper that was translated and published in a journal, after it was found on the blog.
- Connections – I’ve met people with similar interests, both academic and professional, that I wouldn’t have found otherwise. My biggest success was finding the designer of a web site I had used in a teaching case, with zero additional work on my part. I posted my case, and within 24 hours the designer, who I had never met before, left a comment with great behind-the-scenes information about the site.
- Media – I’ve had reporters find me through my blog, which can be good or annoying. I showed a recent example where my analytics data told me a reporter had spent almost half an hour on my blog before contacting me for an interview. That information gave me confidence this person was serious, and worth giving some time to.
- Explaining publications – hey, academic publications don’t make sense to a lot of people basically everyone, including people who might be able to use your findings. Blog posts give me the chance to explain publications and presentations in somewhat normal language.
- The living CV – I’m not sure if this is good or not, but I seem to do many things that wouldn’t make it to my academic CV. The academic blog is a place to capture those. It’s great for those end-of-year reviews, promotion cases, and to quickly introduce others to my work and interests.
Two days later, I gave a spontaneous show-and-tell on my Moodle site (university.jpedia.org) that I use instead of our official Blackboard product. USF is considering Moodle as an alternative, but it will be another classic example of selling the unfamiliar benefits of open source to an institution that has spent serious time and energy on the proprietary path. In industry, open source can sneak in the back door on new projects, and gradually take over from within. Ripping out the existing system is a tougher sell, without some vision of the long-term innovation benefits.