Mistakes made in Academic Blogs

WarningThis is not quite the blatant rip-off of Darren Rowse’s post “Warning: Do You Recognize These 21 Blogging Mistakes?” as you might think, but close.

I have tried to make Darren’s list relevant to the kind of ‘mistakes’ both students and academics make on academic blogs.

Here goes;

  • Don’t give up: This is true for both tutors and students, especially if they are not comfortable with the technology (or subject matter). They will need a healthy support team to keep them active and engaged.
  • Echo everyone else / be the parrot: If in doubt, reply and say “I agree”. This does not constitute engaging in the process or activity. All this means is you know you have to contribute but can’t be bothered to think of something relevant.
  • Irregular Posting: If you’re instructed, as part of the activity, to post once or twice a week, then this is (or should be) part of the assessment criteria for the activity. If you, the tutor, say you’ll post comments or view the blog once a week then you should also do so. If you expect the students to follow the instructions, then you have to show willingness to follow the expectations you set.
  • Great post, naff title: How many blogs entries are titled with the date? The default setting for the blog tool in myBU is the current date/time … and less than 5% of participants change it. 
  • Not being useful: Taking the parrot-idea further, it’s even worse when you blog about something completely off-topic. This is really bad if you’ve been given a specific topic .. and you blog about something completely different.
  • Not understanding the WHY behind the blog: Has the reason for the blog been made and explained? Is it clear what you expect the students or your colleagues to gain/learn from the blog exercise? if not, why not?
  • Thinking you know it all: No one knows it all, not even close. You may know a lot, possibly more than those you are blogging with/about, but that doesn’t mean you know it all!

The rest of Darren’s list is more relevant to those of us who are public bloggers (adverts, colours, widgets, etc) and as such are not something that students, blogging in the controlled VLE, have any control over anyway.

PS. Read Darren’s (@ProBlogger) original list, it makes for some humbling reading for us blogger. We’ve all been guilty of some of these at some point or other! Which rules did you break?

  • This is a good list, and useful information for blogging activities. For the first item, do you mean “Giving up”, in keeping with the list as a series of mistakes rather than instructions?

  • Sorry, meant to put something better than “don’t give up” but couldn’t think of anything. Have reverted to the original. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • The first point is particularly relevant for me. The lads at HackCollege.com pointed out that starting a blog was a great way to educate yourself about a particular subject but it seems counter-intuitive writing about something with authority when you actually want to know more about it.

  • Wow, things have changed since I left academia. They actually make you blog now? I thought that was just what we did to avoid working on dissertations.

  • David, nice to find your blog. You hit the nail on the head especially with the ‘Why’ for blogging. I found if I got this one right at the outset that the rest rather fell into place. And yes … we learn as we go (final bullet point). Cheers.

  • John: Writing about something I know about has opened up so many new avenues in technology, pedagogy, social network & media, etc. It’s been great. Thanks for the comment.

    Adbpbt: If it part of the activity or assessment of the Unit the students are studying, then yes the ‘must’ blog. Those academics I work with who blog (like me) for professional gain are making contacts outside of the normal sphere of influence (and country) which can only be a good thing. Thanks for the comment.

    Kate: So often I find that the trouble people have with a blog as part of their study is that it simply hasn’t been explained to them. once they understand the ‘why’ then the ‘how’ is so much easier. Thanks for the comment.

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