Others have written about the advantages and disadvantages of blogging, their application to professional development and their use in promoting a company as a thought leader. So what follows are some thoughts specific to my context.
I have found the advantages of blogging to really be worth the hour or so I spent every fortnight or so putting together a blog. One of the major advantages has been that I have been able to archive many resources that are pertinent to my mLearning research. I probably use the blog most often for finding links that I know I have blogged about and also to compare my current thoughts on a topic with the thoughts I put down in the blog a while back. It’s a great way to re-visit things that work and to also build on resources that have been gleaned from a wide variety of sources but now stored in a one stop shop.
The other thing I have found really useful, is checking my sitemeter every week or so. I have had the sitemeter set up for about a year and a half. The most frequent search terms that find my blog are on ‘limitations of Web 2.0’ and ‘activity theory’ although anything to do with ‘mlearning or eportfolios and apprentices’ usually also brings up this blog. I check the site meter each week and find links via the ‘by referrals’ summary of recent visitors. These have directed me towards interesting areas that I would not personally think about checking out. Each week, I will find links that are real gems, some which I will blog about but many I will archive in my ‘to explore further’ folder. These events always bring home to me how much more interconnected the world has become. It also reinforces for me the need to be always ready to look at how other people have approached things and how ideas in other contexts well removed from areas that I have contact with, come up with similar views, ways to do things or approach the problem from a totally different paradigm. This approach has really broadened my thinking about how I go about conceptualising the various projects I now work with. It has also given me a broad spectrum of ideas to draw. In my role as elearning facilitor and staff educator I work with diverse groups of tutors, all passionately teaching their subjects to a wide range of students. Being able to expand my database of possible solutions to challenges put forward by tutors has been a real asset. Especially when I can usually also provide tutors with actual documented examples of how the solution is being used by other teachers.
Blogging has put me in touch with kindred spirits. In some ways, I am sad about having to use the internet to touch base with people who are working on projects like mlearning for workplace learners. I am a person who enjoys having face to face conversations with like minded people. However, in the real world, I would probably never have had the opportunity to connect with the diverse bunch of people I now have on my contact list. I can now just email the right person to find out an answer to a question that I am struggling with or who can be a shoulder to lean on when things are getting overwhelming.
Another aspect of blogging is that it forces me to keep in touch with the developments in the areas that I have an interest in. Blogging provides the motivation to organise the things I find I need to follow up when they turn up on my bloglines. It gives focus to my readings, both on and off-line and also makes me read in a more structured way, so that I can summarise my thoughts better in writing when it comes time to put my thoughts down on my blog.
So, here’s to the next 100 :)