Blogging, what a wonderful word. As you sit here reading, you are reading my blog. This for me serves as both a personal blog as well as a part of my professional site. Every person has the ability to blog. Some take it to the next level and develop these sites for their departments and universities.
This second session of the Student Affairs Technology Unconference in Michigan had a group of professionals at a variety of different levels in terms of their understanding of what it means to blog, what platforms can you use, and what would this look like on a college campus. Here are a few highlights from our conversation!
There are many platforms - The question came up about where to start, and this prompted an impromptu show and tell. There happened to be four or five professionals in the room who blog personally that all had a different platform to share. We were able to see and discuss: Weebly, Wordpress.com, Tumblr, and Blogger. Each have their pros and cons, but it was clear that overall it was easy to create, but was it easy to start
What to talk about - When discussing from a personal side, it is easy to say that it is whatever interests you. If you have multiple interests, share them and organize them with tags and categories. Explain to your audience that it is going to cover a lot of different things and that you hope they enjoy at least one of them. When talking about it from a department/university level, it really depends on your audience, so ask them! Find what gets students talking. At the same time, it is the department's time to generate their own content to use for a multitude of purposes. From recruitment to student reflections, there is no end to the opportunity, but it is your job to start.
Consistency is key - Most in the room that had a blog had a hard time at least once in there time of writing when they fell off the wagon. The key thing was how do you motivate yourself to send out regular posts. It was mentioned to add it as a reminder on your calendar. Another said that when the mood hits you, write multiple and save them in your drafts. There was also the point of writing for yourself, and if it doesn't come to you, don't force it. If you get on a spree, share the spree.
Generate conversation outside of the blog - To generate audience and attraction, conversation needs to occur outside the blog. Use social media to drive people to the source, but then spawn conversations on the *social* networks.
Student Employment is Power - The question came up if this were an internship, would there be enough work to do. I made a reference to a post I wrote and said yes, and you can make a team of it and still find people to work. Giving training and building that digital literacy about blogging is important, but so is freedom to create. Find students that have an knack for writing. Let them create their posts, many of these sites can create contributors where you end up as the sole person that can publish to the site. Students can then make it, you proof it and approve it, then it goes to the site.
Personal use is most important - Much like social media and other technology, we determined that it was important to experience this first personally before expanding to the department or university. Build your own digital literacy before attempting a large scale. To help build the literacy, there are tutorials upon tutorials to teach the mechanics and give suggestions to create the best product.