Throwing Yourself Out There in a Networked World

Interesting reads this week for our blog post.  One of the comments I thought most interesting was taken from Tim Hitchcock’s article about twitter and blogs (http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2014/07/28/twitter-and-blogs-academic-public-sphere/).  He said:

“One of my favourite blogging experiences involves embedding blogs in undergraduate assessment.  By forcing students to write ‘publicly’, their writing rapidly improves.  From being characterized by the worst kind of bad academic prose – all passive voice pomposity – undergraduate writing in blogs is frequently transformed in to something more engaging, simply written, and to the point.  From writing for the eyes of an academic or two,  students are forced to imagine (or actually confront) a real audience.  Blogging has the same effect on more professional academic writers – many of whom assume that if the content is good, the writing somehow doesn’t matter.”

I thought that was an interesting comment on the how and why of involving students in networked learning and public discussion.  We teach students to work on homework assignments, tests, essays, etc. that will only be seen by the students themselves, their teacher, and maybe by a limited handful of classmates.  Particularly given the public nature of professional practice, teaching students to effectively communicate to broader and more diverse audiences can’t help but have a positive effect on their future success.  I think too, as he mentioned, that blogging can be beneficial to us as well because it forces us to evaluate our confidence in our own findings, practices, and approaches and determine how to represent those to others.  I worked in engineering practice for several years before coming back to school and I saw the positive impact that community of practice forums could have on my practice and on the community in general.  When we practice, study, research, or otherwise act in a vacuum, we often find (or don’t) ourselves re-treading wrong paths or stagnating in our development.  When we become more comfortable tossing ideas out there and bouncing them off others, I think, in spite of the potential for exposing our mistakes or maybe looking foolish on occasion, we end up learning far more and improving our work far more quickly than working in more secure, isolated conditions.

4 Replies to “Throwing Yourself Out There in a Networked World”

  1. I really enjoyed reading your post! I think you brought up so many important points. Particularly in engineering, it is so important that students learn how to communicate ideas, communicate with broad and diverse audiences, and consider multiple ideas and perspectives. So many times, engineering students get caught up in equations and numbers. But being able to talk about an idea or a concept is not only important in educational settings (it is important that students are able to understand concepts/implications/assumptions and not just reiterate equations and processes), it is important in workplace settings (like you described in your post). Thanks for the post!

  2. I agree with your opinions. It is easy to get uncomfortable when exposing mistakes to others, but without sharing and getting feedback we cannot learn and grow rapidly. We should get out of the comfort zone, especially an isolated condition, to throw ourselves in a network and use the connections to learn effectively.

  3. Thank you for your post! I agree with you that blogging helps us write better during the time and gives us voice to talk about our opinions and concerns fearlessly. I also think, by blogging, like many other forms of writing, we give shape to our thoughts, the ones that we ourselves might not be aware of. We write and we erase until we feel “Yes, that’s what I mean”, which I believe is a precious moment!

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