05 November 2012

Blogging Journey (A Possible Representation)

This year my colleague, Lin Armstrong, and her new students on 2+2 Childhood Studies programme are to start blogging – as their predecessors did in previous years. When I spoke to them at our first blogging session, it occurred to me that the journey these students would have to make could be expressed in terms of transition from collector to curator to creator.

My usual advice to blogging newbies is to start with cutting and pasting the weblinks and YouTube videos, perhaps adding the titles of those pieces of content as well. This should be easy enough.

The next step is to provide a short description of what’s there, behind the weblink. Then another step – to provide also a short response to the viewed/read: I like it because…, I disagree because… Eventually we should reach the stage where the original reflection prevails; it well may be inspired by another piece of content, of course – an article read, TV programme watched, conversation heard etc. On the whole, the blog becomes a reflection of the author’s interests and abilities.

Blogs are not only a tool for reflective practice; they are also portfolios and depositories of useful materials. Therefore, it is quite appropriate to approach blogging as a collector would: to regard it as a huge box for storing all kinds of useful stuff for the future. In that aspect, a blog will provide evidence of the breadth of reading and other forms of content discovery. It seems to me that majority of people on Facebook stay forever in the collector’s slippers: they bubble away about what they see.

Curation starts with first strategic decisions: my blog will be about this and that, only materials on specific topics will be of interest to me and my audience, I would like to be perceived as someone knowledgeable on certain topics and adhering to certain values. Of course, every student has a manifold of interests and the blog should reflect that. At this stage paying attention to the blog’s audience is important: What would I like my readers to discover, get inspired by? The author is likely to move away from the collector’s excitement of “Wow, that’s interesting! I should keep it” to conscious researching decisions: “I need to pay attention to certain fields of academic (or any other suitable) discourse to build my knowledge and my own story and arguments”. Curation involves not only arranging and pointing out, but “collection development” too, using the librarians’ language.

Becoming a creator is exciting. It involves developing one’s own voice and – developing further – interests and passions. Does everyone has to be(come) a creator? – I think it’s a wrong question as everyone is a creator in one or another aspect. Life and learning are processes: we move from one experience to another, being changed for better or worse, feeling more inspired or less so. When we feel frustrated or discouraged, or just lazy sometimes to write anything longish, we should move back to cutting and pasting, and just commenting in few words, and so to starting all again – from collector to curator to creator. The ideal is being all three at the same time.

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