Blogs and Learning
February 11, 2015
“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” - Anaïs Nin, French-born novelist who gained international fame with her journals Like journals, blogs are valuable for learning because they store thoughts while we develop our personal guiding principles. In the article "Ten Good Reasons to Start a Blog,” Jessica Balsley primarily praised the medium for helping her stay focused on her career. The benefit of a blog over a journal is that blogs are open to feedback from others, which can help shape our opinions. Writing in the public blog-o-sphere helps us “taste life” more than twice, including additional learning every time we contemplate the questions or conflicting ideas raised by others. Blogs administered in a formal setting, such as in MRKT 3311, are effective places to publicly evaluate tools, companies, or other entities, but the formality seems to limit personality in the writing. The research-based, rather than experience-based, nature seems to cause a separation between the author and the subject matter. As a repository for research findings, the writing lacks whimsical sentence styling or admission of feelings. That’s not to say that the opinions can’t still be well developed and valuable to the global community. In contrast, blogs might be more effective in capturing the author’s personality when they are self-initiated, like those of the Cornell students documenting their experiences abroad. These blog postings are more varied in length and sentence structure based on the authors’ feelings about their experiences. They are also more story-like, with discussions about the beginnings, middles, and ends of these experiences. The planned adventure sets the time frame and framework for the blog. A framework or stated “focus of thought” seems to be important for any blogger. Educator-created blogs are self-initiated and open ended, and they still center around a main topic. For example, Will Richardson consistently weighs the tension between accepting new technologies and maintaining current methods. By holding this focus, his writing and the feedback he receives from the community will eventually shape his guiding principles on his use of technology in teaching. Until now, I believed the point of a blog was to participate in a topic discussion that could continue forever. Sound familiar, anyone? Now, though, I think the intention should be to reach a conclusion about a personal point of confusion. I think the maximum value of a blog comes from striving to define our personal guiding principles. With that in mind, we could ask ourselves, “What is a muddy ‘taste’ in my life that I need to understand better?” That should be the framework for vetting out complexities until a conclusion is reached.