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.