Why become an academic blogger?

Why write?

If you can answer this question then you can answer the title question. I enjoy writing. What I write about in my blog posts is about me. It’s what I want to say to the world right now. Raw, semi-immediate, and passionate. I might think differently in five years but that’s fine. This is what I think now and what I want to yell to the roof tops today.

I am a writer, was a writer and I want to be a writer. What I write has changed over the years. I was a kid — I wrote little plays I forced my siblings to act out. I was a student — I wrote assignments. I was a teacher — I wrote lesson plans and resources. I was a curriculum leader — I wrote unit plans and policies. I was a PhD candidate  — I wrote a thesis and a blog. I am an early career researcher — I write academic papers, project briefs, and again I write a blog.

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Blogging isn’t essential. It doesn’t put food on my table (yet) but I’ve become a little bit of an addict and an evangelist. This time, I am trying to convince others to blog with me.

There are many other well reasoned arguments for why academics should consider adding blogging to their bag of writing tricks, and I hope to explore these through future posts.

But for now, the purpose of this weblog.

I am a member of an academic special interest group (SIG) for Sociology of Education (SocEd) at Griffith University and members of this group are willing to be involved in a “blogging in academia” experiment. This is the introductory blog post for that experiment.

A key concern of the SIG is that sociology in education is losing its voice. The why in initial teacher education is quickly being eroded by the strength of the how. If we can’t effectively ask why education happens the way it does through the current structure of an initial education degree, then how do we cope with the highly mediated political punching bag that is the education profession and schooling?
My suggested solution is to put those ideas into a blog. Why? There is a ready made educator audience already inspired to use social media to transform education.

A growing group of educators are using social media for “grassroots“ professional learning. Educators will most often outline the details of their professional practice in a blog and promote it on Twitter. Communities of learning, anchored by Twitter chats, are sharing professional practice in primary, secondary, tertiary and adult education (#edchat, #aussieEd, #highered, #phdchat #ozchat), engaging with the disciplines (#histedchat, #scichat, #engchat etc), promoting the use of technology in the classroom (#edtechchat) and more. Inger Mewburn has made a career out of engaging with #phdchat and blogging about academic writing and providing higher degree advice. Some teachers have even suggested that Twitter chats are superior professional learning to formalised workshops provided by institutions. To top it off, educators using Twitter have been found to be eager to relay professional learning found on social media to their non-user colleagues.

There are many public social media communities discussing education practice but very few of these communities engage consistently with why we practice the way we do. This is a conversation that needs some promotion and the Griffith SocEd SIG would like to make a combined contribution.

This is a conversation that should empower educators rather than confuse. It should be to-the-point, with a take-home idea that inspires further thought. It should not be cynical and engage only with the common discourse of what is wrong with education, but provide ideas and galvanize people in the education industry to stand against the tide of media and political misinformation. I propose a blog can do this where an academic paper often struggles.

This blog will be a bunch of individual voices (including senior academics, doctoral candidates, researchers, teacher educators and teachers) writing about things which interest them and worry them about education. These posts will make grappling with the sociology of education more transparent. There will be no rhyme to the variety of posts but a common reason to problem solve why education is the way it is, what is good, and what can be done about the not so good.

What are you interested in finding out about more in education? What worries you? Have you got ideas just crying out to be heard? Let us know.

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3 thoughts on “Why become an academic blogger?

  1. Naomi, Thanks for your blog. It really helped me to think about my own identity as a writer, and what it means to write for different audiences. I have been an academic for many, many years. And academic work encourages a particular style of writing which involves an incredible investment of labor. Increasingly, I think it is important to share the journey of this labor of work with different audiences. Why? Because such writing will make public the process of learning and thinking involved in the academic writing journey, and hopefully others learn why we academics think this is important work.

    Liked by 1 person

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