I have had an email from wordpress which means I have to re-vamp my theme in order to keep a mobile version. It’s made me think about my relationship with my blog and how I want to relate to it in the future. It’s probably a good point to think about this. It’s nearly 10 years since I set it up and whilst I used it loads between 2010 and 2012 to help me understand my learning on MSc Systems thinking in practice, I haven’t posted as much since then. In fact, I haven’t posted for over a year now.
People use blogs for many reasons. For me, the reason has been mostly personal. Writing is part of the act of constructing my knowledge – it isn’t just putting existing knowledge on the page. It’s only by writing that I learn about what I know. Vague thoughts and connections start coming together on the page and I end up learning about what I know – or knowing about what I have learned. However, I am always aware that a blog is public – other people can read it if they choose to do so. This means that sometimes I have to make a choice as to whether to write confidentially for myself or in the open. In the last few years, I have been more engaged in personal journalling connected to my PhD research so was less inclined to use the blog. This choice was partly shaped by ethics and partly shaped by the need to write shorter, less developed pieces of writing that (I perceive) others would not find helpful.
Two events in the past week have challenged my thinking…
Yesterday, a current TU812 student mentioned how they found my blogs helpful to get their head around the TU812 concepts. It’s weird that those blogs I wrote nearly 10 years ago now as a student still have a use beyond the purpose I had for them. I didn’t write them in order to help future students, they certainly weren’t written in the knowledge that I would end up being an associate lecturer on the MSc STiP programme.
This is more of an obscure connection but last weekend I was in Amsterdam. Like many other visitors there I went round Anne Frank’s house. I hadn’t realised that Anne herself was planning on publishing her ‘diary’ – she’d even worked to convert her original diaries into a manuscript. It was because of her, and her father’s decision to publish, that I learned as an 11/12 year old about the holocaust.
These two events are a timely reminder that writing a blog is a gift to others – even if writing is initially motivated by personal reasons, publishing opens up opportunities for others to learn. Wenger (2010) writes about the idea of learning citizenship – “the personal side of a social discipline of learning” (p.197). As I challenge myself to think about the learning contribution I have to offer, I realise that I’ve neglected to consider the potential contribution of my blog – not just as an archive, but as an active focal point for my learning – and for others if they choose to engage.
I guess it’s time for that re-vamp.
Wenger, E. (2010) Communities of practice and social learning systems: the career of a concept, in Blackmore, C. (editor), Social learning systems and communities of practice, Springer, London, pp. 179-198