R685 – Final Reflection on Blogging

You can view my blog posts for R685 here.

I tried a lot of new things with my blog this semester because of the requirement that we do some blogging. For one, I posted more frequently than at the end of each semester completed. For another, I wrote my first-ever series of blog posts about something I’m interested in (in this case, the mobile learning experiment I did during that week in class). I have to admit that I procrastinated a lot more on blogging this semester than I would have liked to.

I have a million scraps of paper with ideas for blog posts jotted down on them, but unfortunately I had some personal and health struggles this semester that precluded me from ever have the time to develop these ideas as deeply as they deserved. Even still, this means I have a lot of seed topics for my blog for when I do have the time to get back to it. I procrastinated on commenting for my critical friends, as well, and I plan to catch up on it over the weekend.

I really enjoyed both Annisa and Christina as critical friends. They’re both incredibly intelligent and have a lot of good points. I wish either one of them would have responded to any of my comments I’d left on their blogs because I was really hoping to start a dialogue and each post failed to do so.

I suspect that the lack of comments during most of the semester was partially to blame for my constant procrastination; when I was getting comments, I remembered to keep on schedule and post, but once comments slowed and then disappeared, I started to forget. Then, when Christina was added as a second Critical Friend sometime mid-semester and she began to comment, I saw a brief flurry of activity before I lapsed into silence again.

I tried a number of different things with my blog posts to varying degrees of success. Reflecting on each week’s learning was useful to me during the first part of the semester. I tried for a couple of weeks to also include posts about the weekly tidbits and videos I was consuming, but that fizzled out rather quickly. I also shared the coursework I completed on my blog, motivated primarily because of a post by an IU student in the Learning Sciences department (you can, and should, read it here). McWilliams is one of the few non-entertainment bloggers I read regularly, and this particular blog post was the first one to get me really thinking about how much of an ivory tower higher education really is.

I’m fortunate enough to be an incredible student as well as an intelligent human being, and though many would consider me to have come from a relatively low-class family, I’ve managed to work hard enough that I have a lot of privilege regardless. I am fantastically lucky to be a member of a community of learners as wonderfully knowledgeable as the one at IU, but I don’t feel it’s appropriate to jealously guard my work as if someone else is going to steal it.

Having a blog also gave me a place to vent my constant need to be expansive about everything. I found that the free-form nature of the blogging assignment allowed me to do what worked best for me, and to work out the nature of my thoughts so that I could then rephrase them better in the forum discussions, when I did my blog before I did my discussions for the week.

Because of the kind of student I am, making the format and requirements for the blogs as open-ended as they were meant that I was consistently writing more than I might have if the assignment were “write a two-page reflection on this week’s topics.” I wrote until I didn’t have anything else to say about the topic, and then I published it; it was nice to not have to spend time worrying about saying too much or too little and instead just write what I felt was merited. I understand that this may be an opportunity for less-motivated students to do less work, but it really works for me as a student. The informal nature of posting a blog entry instead of handing in a paper also meant that I spent less time worrying about the mechanics and more time thinking about the content.

At the same time, however, the fact that my blog was not only readable by the entire internet, but being posted to the site I put on my resume, meant that I still had to do some pretty careful thinking about what I was posting. That meant that I had to back up things that I said, much like if I were working on research that I might try and publish in a peer-reviewed journal, except that the publishing process took much less time, and likely I’ll never revise anything I posted. So, at the same time as I was completing a homework assignment, I was experiencing the projected image of an IST scholar, something I’ve never been before, but which I’d like to be one day.

That’s actually a great way to describe my experience with this entire class, actually: I got to try on the identity of an IST student and see whether or not I liked it as much as I thought I would. Luckily, I did. Everything I read was interesting. I learned a lot of new perspectives on a lot of things that I was already familiar with, and I feel like I deepened my understanding of the concepts if I knew of them to begin with. Blogging was a big part of that; having to write about something forces me to think about it and connect ideas in a much more concrete way than just thinking about it requires.

There is much that could be said here about authentic activities and self-directed learning; I could apply a million of the concepts I learned about using blogs as an educational tool, about keeping students motivated to continue by assigning critical friends… there are a lot of lessons I’ve learned. But instead of writing about them, I think I’ll post this to my blog and see if I can get a discussion started about it.

So, there’s that. I’ve just had an entire semester of fun blogging for a class. Ask Me Anything.

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