Today, I am thrilled to bring you another guest post from a student in my Masters course. As a part of my course, students are expected to maintain a blog that they post to regularly. In today’s post, Julie shares with you her thoughts on the assignment. Check out her most amazing blog here.
Until recently, I’ve suffered from failed blogging. Unfamiliar with this condition? It’s characterized by feverish ideas, bold plans, and procrastination. Sufferers are easy to spot by the sheer number of forsaken blogs they leave in their wake.
I was first diagnosed several years ago after abandoning a blog I was writing based on TV’s Friday Night Lights after only two posts. Other failed attempts quickly followed, culminating in my pronouncement that I would NEVER START ANOTHER BLOG. Cue graduate school.
My rehabilitation started with a service learning component for a Diversity class in my Library Science program. After working with students each week, we had to journal our experience in a private blog—only my fellow classmates [all five of them] and my professor could see our writing. It was highly structured in terms of topic and schedule. I did it. It was a rewarding, enriching experience, but it honestly didn’t feel like blogging [even though we were actually using Blogger as a journal platform] and I still identified as a failed blogger after that experience.
When Professor Hall assigned a blogging component as part of our course, I was nervous. Up until then, my readers were either a) family members; b) non-existent; or, c) forced to follow me. Here, my propensity towards failed blogging would be out there for anyone—from the WHOLE class of REAL teachers to the whole WORLD [i.e. my professor]—to see. No privacy settings. No easy quitting. No strict topic choice rules.
We could base our blogs on any aspect of literacy. Obviously, literacy is a broad, but absorbing topic. [Yes, even more interesting to me than Friday Night Lights.] I started tentatively with my chosen subject matter by talking about myself, naturally.
My first post—focused on the importance of removing barriers—was easy! But, I knew from experience—that first post is always easy. I was NOT confident about my long-term prognosis. Either I would abandon another blog, resulting in a bad grade, or I would slug through in a painful stupor.
Relief arrived in an unexpected way—comments. The way that our blogging assignment is structured—the requirement to comment on at least one classmate’s blog each week—makes this treatment readily available. Comments are crucial to recovering from failed blogging. What have been some of the benefits from my classmate’s comments?
- Community. I’m not a big talker in class, or anywhere. Blogging introduces another way for classmates to get to know each other. Of course, one of the globally-recognized benefits of blogging is community, but I was happy to find that blogging is building up our very own class community.
- New Ideas. Again, an obvious one, but I love hearing what my classmates think about my posts—whether it comes in the form of sentiments of approval/affirmation or new suggestions. Several comments have been so powerful that they have resulted in new practices in my library work. Once, I blogged about an idea I had received through a comment on a previous blog post. It was metablogging.
- Context. Comments help me think about my blogging—and my coursework—in the context of the real world. All of the readers of our blogs have a different mind-set—including work experiences, research background, and scholarship—that they bring to our blogs. It’s invaluable.
In addition to comments, these other factors from our class blogging have helped to cure me.
- Topic choice, within reason. I appreciated being able to focus my blog on any topic, but was even more appreciative that we were given a broad subject area—literacy—in which to narrow down our topic.
- Different mode of communication. My speaking skills are not the best. Usually, I think of a contribution to make to a class discussion on the drive home. Or, two days later. The asynchronous format of blogging—and commenting—allows me to reflect on classroom topics and discussions and then write about it days later.
- Requirement. Blogging is a class requirement, and honestly, that is the only way I would’ve done it.
- Professor involvement. Leigh reads our blogs, commenting on many and also uses excerpts from individual blogs during class time to springboard discussion.
- Opportunity to advocate for interests. Any platform that allows me to talk about diverse literature is a WIN! I’ve seen my classmates advocate for their professional interests or positions and it’s interesting. And energizing.
I’m both grateful and surprised that this assignment has helped treat my failed blogging affliction. And, with that statement, I’m not saying that my blog is a success. Rather, I’m only claiming that I’m doing it, and for me—for this former failed blogger—that is what success, and the cure, looks like.
 If you’re wondering why I would choose that subject matter, I’m going to guess that you’ve never watched the program.