The Many Faces of Blogging


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Just as there are many different blogging platforms, there are also many different ways to blog. Some break it down into different tasks or unpacking why we blog. However, we often overlook what actually constitutes a blog in education. To make sense of these possibilities, I have broken them down into seven different types that help to develop a deeper appreciation of the possibilities that blogging enables:


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Personal

The most obvious place to start with blogging is as a personal space. Whether it is about digging deeper into a particular question or simply reflecting on life, a blog enables a particular type of voice. This could be informal and not necessarily intended to scale. Just about getting ideas down, a digital scrapbook, giving ideas life or thinking out loud. While at the other end of the scale, it could be quite formal with a conscious effort made to present a particular perspective. Maybe this could be a principal sharing their thoughts on the school’s journey or a consultant sharing particular ideas and resources.

For a range of personal blogs, check the extensive list of nominees associated with the 2015 Edublogs Awards.

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Portfolio

In some ways the blog as a portfolio is an extension of the personal. It too focuses on thinking out loud and reflection. Where it differs is that it adds a certain structure and a conscious intent. The expectations, whether it be standards being used, frequency of responses, the setting of goals or the kind of material included (and excluded), help guide the process. Although we often associate portfolios with students, they also apply to the teachers and leaders.

Here are some examples of portfolios:


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Subject

A flip of the personal blog is the subject based blog. What differentiates the two is the focus on a particular topic or problem, as opposed to an individual point of view. This might be a school website regularly updating information about news and events, a class sharing their learning, an organisation providing information about a project, a community challenge updated with new tasks, an event disseminating ideas beforehand or a writer sharing extracts from an upcoming book. Usually a project blog is not somebody’s primary space. More often than not, those behind a project also keep a personal blog.

Here are some examples of subject based blogs:


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Collaborative

A different take on the subject based blog is the collaborative blog. Often wikis and docs are considered the ideal spaces to connect and collaborate with others. However, blogs also provide the means to combine different voices in the one space. In a post exploring collaborative blogs, George Couros provides some positives to collaborative blogging:

  1. Takes the pressure off.
  2. Adds a kind of competitive nature to the process.
  3. Working with others supports reflection.
  4. Rich learning data.

Although a collaborative blog may also focus on theme, they involve a range of authors and perspectives. This is done either by creating different users or by syndicating content.

Here are some examples of collaborative blogs:


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Presentation

A different take on the theme based blog is the idea of the blog as presentation. At a basic level, this is where you use a content management system to create a somewhat static website. Taking this a step further, Alan Levine has shared how he hacks the code in WordPress to create sites that act like a slideshow. Either way, make a new blog for a presentation allows you to create a unique URL.

Here are a couple of examples of blogs as presentation:


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Curation

Another twist on the usual is blog as a form of curation and social bookmarking. This can take many forms. Sites like Diigo allow you to publish collections of links to a blog. This though has its limits. Blogs themselves provide some useful features that help to organise links using categories and tags, while applications like IFTTT allow you to automate the process of posting. Going a step further than this, there are numerous WordPress themes that allow you to turn your blog into something resembling Delicious or Pintereat. For something differemt, Known provides the means to not only curate links, but post elsewhere, while Mike Caulfield’s Wikity project a means of curating across a network.

Here are some examples of some blogs as social bookmarking:


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Social Space

Another form that pushes the constraint of the platform is blog as social media platform. This is where the lines blur between the traditional conception of a blog and a social media space. The P2 theme and its many children allow you to change the way comments are managed. Instead of clicking through to posts, it all occurs on the front page, acting similar to a message board. One of the useful features is that, compared with platforms like Edmodo, you have more control over the data. Even more powerful is the ability to break this down to particular users.

Here are some examples of some blogs that read more like a social media stream:


So there are my thoughts? What about you? Do you agree? Or have I missed something? Do you have an example to add to my lists or any resources that might relate? As always, comments welcome.


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Aaron Davis

I am an Australian educator supporting schools with the integration of technology and pedagogical innovation. I have an interest in how together we can work to make a better world.

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22 thoughts on “The Many Faces of Blogging

  1. Great post Aaron. I’ve been thinking a lot about this…and wondering “why” we blog. As I direct students, I consider purpose, audience, and then use that to inform design choices. But, as we advance in our use of the medium, we have to consider why we blog. Is it for me….or for my audience?

    Still trying to think through this. As you’ve suggested in this post…perhaps it’s a mix of the two depending on the different instances.

    1. Thank you Ian. I wonder if there is a difference between between genre and a writer’s intention. A part of me wonders if such definitions are convenient, but flawed. Maybe it is useful at seeing the potential of the medium, but does not really capture the why.

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