The Old Blog
A couple of years back, I wanted my team to use blogging and wikis as a way to disseminate the content that the Center for Teaching Excellence was collecting and creating. The team was in a high energy state, moving fast, and making a significant impact. It seemed like every week we were breaking new ground. I really wanted to capture the benchmarking, research, and development of new faculty learning communities, workshops and programs. I had a great team and wanted the world to see their accomplishments.
I asked our amazing web developer to set up a blog site and wiki for the unit. I talked passionately about the impact of getting our content online and out in the open at our team meeting and individual meetings. I encouraged everyone to post something on the blog and to document their programs and research on the wiki. I was so excited about the future.
And…group blogging was an utter failure.
Ok, it was’t an utter failure. A few months later there was some activity. It did not take off like I had hoped. It faded into the past and is no longer active.
The major reason for the blog initiative was to disseminate the research and information that the Center for Teaching Excellence was collecting, curating, and creating to Faculty. As a faculty development unit, one measure of our impact is the number of Faculty that we engage and assist. Faculty have limited time to attend workshops and learning communities. Having the content on-demand, so that Faculty could engage with it when they had time, could substantially increase the Center’s impact. Blogging seemed like a simpler path to dissemination than building more formal web pages for the content.
The second was to encourage faculty to use non-traditional forms of publication in addition to traditional scholarly publications. Research has shown that the number of citations and downloads of a faculty members scholarly publications as well as their reputation can be enhanced by blogging about their research or having other cite their work in their blogs (McKenzie; Davis, Figgins, Hedengren & Klien; Shema, Bar-Ilan & Thelwall). Writing about their scholarship in an open forum can increase Faculty Impact.
The New Blog
Shortly after my attempt at a single site for the team to blog from, Adam Croom, Director of Digital Learning, brought the Domain of One’s Own idea to the University of Oklahoma and create.ou.edu became a reality.
Several of the CTE and Digital Learning team members developed their own Create sites, experimented with the tools and created a digital presence. Then came course sites and online workshop resources.
The blog I thought CTE needed was a central location that everyone contributed to as a team. What the team needed was a space to experiment and tools to create their own domain. By providing the resources, the individuals were empowered to build beyond what I had envisioned.
Great content is now out there in the open web on the individual domains. How does CTE make this readily available to Faculty? Syndication. The happy ending is not a another run at a group blog, but a syndication site to showcase all of the excellent individual scholarship and creative activity.
Lead from the Front
I asked my team to start blogging for the team, but I did not blog. How was I to expect them to go where I would not.
Domain of One’s Own
Group blogging can be successful. There are examples, but I noticed something about these group blogs. The authors are writing for themselves and the group. The authors are very passionate about the topics. There is value to the individual and the group. There is a sense of ownership that is important to the writing that I missed with my original thought of blogs for the Center.
The current blogs by the team members are personal, authentic, and powerful. It is their contribution to the world.
Not everyone will blog, and that is OK
Those that organically started blogging about their thoughts on education and creating faculty development sites did so because they found value in it and they believed in it. For others in our team, the value proposition may not be in blogging. Some members of the Team have taken time to developed excellent resource pages for the CTE website (Effective Lecturing). Not everyone in CTE will blog, and that is OK.
Some Faculty will see value in blogging about their scholarly activity or the best place to write on campus. Other Faculty will not, and that is OK.
The Blog is dead, Long Live the Blog!
NOTE: I hope this is the first of many posts. Now that I have taken my own advice, you should be hearing from me more often.