Over the weekend I found a blog entry from August 2013 by Mark Carrigan (Digital Fellow at The Sociological Review), entitled ‘40 reasons why you should blog about your research’. A significant number of the reasons suggested are in keeping with my own intentions for this site so I felt it may be worthwhile taking a moment to discuss why I’ve created the blog, what I hope to achieve through it, and to explore some of the content I hope to be able to share.
My inaugural blog post (https://politicsandpedagogy.com/2017/10/31/i-my-inaugural-blog-post/) offered a little insight and background to my own academic experiences during my BA Hons Community Education programme in at the University of Edinburgh (2012-2016) and gave a brief rundown of how the part-time MSc Education (2017-2019), also at the University of Edinburgh, is going so far. The second entry ‘A Short Reflection on the Thoughts of Paulo Freire’ (https://politicsandpedagogy.com/2017/11/02/a-short-reflection-on-the-thoughts-of-paulo-freire/) explored in brief my own understanding of the two linguistic worlds of the everyday and the academic as described in the 1996 interview with the Brazilian Educator. However, this third piece will help me in refining exactly what I want to get out of this blogging experience, as well as outlining what I hope others may be able to take away from it.
Twitter has been an essential tool in helping me to engage with academia and university life (mostly through using the ‘Lists’ tool to isolate users relevant to my interests), and I intend to go into detail on how this aids my work in a later blog post. However, in brief the strict character limit forces others to condense their points into something far more accessible, without the often unnecessary additional terminology, therefore allowing those of us less tuned in to specialist academic phrasing to engage with the topic. It is my hope that creating this WordPress site will allow me to reflect on my own understandings on a more regular basis, offer some personal insights into the ‘university experience’ and postgraduate level study, as well as tracking developments in the initiatives I’m seeking to establish (e.g. the community and academic conference, and the Festival of Learning seminar)
Reading through Mark’s forty reasons (many his own with others sourced from Twitter users or user comments) the notions of producing short form content for non-exclusively academic audiences in a concise manner is one of my ideals. The increase in how frequently I produce academically-orientated content will force me to engage more in depth with a broader range of academic sources finding ways to relay the content in more relatable situations (essentially translating the academic into the everyday) which can later feed into my formal essays and potentially future journal submissions. I hope it will also reduce the anxiety of producing academic content to be graded for my university courses. It may also offer the lasting benefit of an increased academic profile, thereby a degree of ‘academic legitimacy’ when applying to grants to run new initiatives, and in demonstrating a level of academic competence and engagement should I need to contact welfare about further financial support. I’m quite encouraged with the reaction within and external to the university to my first two blog posts. The Twitter ‘likes’ have included several contemporary academics and tutors whom I have studied under at undergraduate or postgraduate level, whilst the blog has also been ‘followed’ by two academics / practitioners whom I have references in previous academic work.
Among the other suggestions in the article were several I hope can become a regular aspect of my blogging such as the site becoming a method of regular engagement with other academics working in my field (perhaps the ‘likes’ and ‘follows’ from academics suggest the early stages of this). I’ve been following a number of WordPress blogs for one time now so I’ll seek to engage more regularly with those. Doing do can hopefully lead to feedback on content, perhaps identifying areas of a blog topic that I may not have considered, or assisting with links to relevant news article, ongoing research, or journal entries. As often as possible I have provided links to related content and advice of what to read or watch for further information (as seen in my first blog post), so I will continue to do this. Additionally, I intend to start sharing content from other blogs that is of direct relevance to my own interests (and potentially those of my readers). The blog can also be an outlet for ongoing research as I work towards creating further submissions for academic or community-based publication.
It’s worth emphasising here that part of my application to my employer’s ‘Employee Further Education Support’ fund proposed writing regular blog posts for our internal online forum to ‘share the knowledge, insight, and expertise gained from my university level studies with my [work] colleagues’. I’m currently in my third year as a Support Worker in an overnight and generally lone worker capacity with a supported accommodation project, providing onsite assistance for care leavers (aged 16-25) in their transition into independent living. When blog articles I produce for this website are of particular relevance to my work with this organisation I’ll be posting them internally too, supplemented by a short contextualisation of the academic content and how it relates to my professional practice (e.g. how Freire’s points on personal and academic language relate to the Homework Club I run for our supported people).
The ‘40 reasons why you should blog about your research’ is available in full over at The Sociological Imagination: http://sociologicalimagination.org/archives/13910
Mark has his own WordPress site, which he refers to as his ‘online notebook’, at https://markcarrigan.net I particularly recommend checking out his recent work on Graphic Social Science – a project exploring how graphic novels could be used in making research and academic content more accessible to wider audiences.
Carrigan, M. (2013). 40 reasons why you should blog about your research. [online] The Sociological Imagination. Available at: http://sociologicalimagination.org/archives/13910 [Accessed 6 Nov. 2017].