Why Do Academics Blog? Mysteries of 21st century academia!

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Hope everyone is enjoying their Thanksgiving break!

A recent article published in Studies in Higher Education asks: Why do academics blog?

Hmm. I guess it seemed obvious. Why does anyone blog? Fame, fortune…? Then I got thinking. Yeah, why do academics blog?

Of course, as an academic and a blogger, I had to read the article. It is titled: “Why do Academics Blog? An Analysis of Audiences, Purposes, and Challenges.

Articles such as Why Academics Should Blog by McGuire at Huffington Post, say that people should blog for a number of reasons as “the point of academia is to expand knowledge,” and the hard to accept but admittedly true: “because some of your ideas are dumb.”

Of course, there are other reasons too, like promoting your ideas and that your blog is part of / and builds your reputation. The authors of the research article wonder if this is in fact true – why do academics blog? By investigating 100 academic blogs  via content analysis , the authors produce an interesting look inside the real reasons why academics blog.

This got me thinking about why I blog.

Why do I blog?

When I created this blog, I spent lots of time working on who I was writing for, and how I wanted to name my blog. I attempted to articulate that in my “About this blog” page. I’ll summarize:

Social media education is a new and emerging field. I want to be a part of that conversation.

To expand:

I teach social media. I have a vested interest in growing with the field. To be great at my job, I need to grow, change, adapt. I need to constantly learn. So, I want to learn and reflect on what I learn.  But I believe I can also help the field grow. I want to share my knowledge.  Maybe by talking about my experience, I can help other educators, or get people thinking about social media education. And too, I want to meet others with similar interests and goals.

How has a Blog has been helpful to me?

Oh, this list could go on and on. So here are a quick few:

  • I’ve met great professors who are great people – before I blogged, I was on Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. And I’d connected with some folks. It wasn’t until I began blogging that I really began having meaningful conversations with other academics. As I shared my knowledge, experience, and areas of interests, an amazing thing happened! Other people have learned about me, who I am, and what I have to say and what I am hoping to learn. Doesn’t that make it easier to connect and build relationships?
  • I’ve been asked to participate in events – from research to Google+ Hangouts, new opportunities to grow, learn, and enhance in the field have been presented to me by awesome people I never would have met (see item above).
  • It has given me a chance to reflect – I’m the sort of person who learns by talking things through or teaching them to others. 
  • It has helped me grow my other social media – I believe that when people see you have a blog, they see that you are participating in the social media conversation at a deeper level, and thus are more likely to follow and engage you on sites like Twitter. I’m not sure if the blog signifies a level of credibility, or that they anticipate gaining more from you because you have a blog. But, I have certainly been much more interactive with folks on social media. And if # of followers on Twitter is important to you – those metrics have grown significantly!
  • It has given me a chance to help others – and I love to help others! I’ve seen a lot of folks looking over my syllabi and assignments, and it makes me feel great that something I have done may inspire them in what they teach!
  • My own place to share my research – I first created a professional website when I was in grad school using Sharepoint. I then moved to WordPress, but the page was static. Having a blog is so much more dynamic, but I still use by blog to post my CV, research, and so forth. I’m always excited when I see people looking over my research or searching my research on Google and finding my site.

I hope you enjoy the research article!

Why do you blog? How has blogging opened opportunities for you? Are you thinking about blogging but haven’t started?

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

– Cheers!
Matt

photo – creative commons, opensourceway

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