Sunday, April 6, 2008

Part 3 - Blogging as part of Research

Some professionals (such as those of us who are currently studying in the TL-DL program) are engaged in ongoing research for assignments and projects. Research processes are evolving with the expansion of technological tools.

Buffington’s article Blogging With Graduate Students looks at the use of blogs as a research tool. She wanted to explore the idea that the research process, the researcher’s thoughts and the publication process could be combined through a blog.

She describes the evolution of their blogging process:

"Our blog started slowly, with a few test posts and discussions of passwords and the functionality of the blog. As time went on, the posts changed to questions about the research process, testing out focus group questions, analyzing data, and generating theories about data. Additionally, the blog became a place to share successes and challenges with both the academic portions of thesis writing as well as the intellectual and family challenges of negotiating the thesis process."

Upon reflection, Buffington found two main factors which she believes contributed to the successful blogging experience of these graduate students:

* the nature and structure of the blog - its informality, the organization, and its focus

* the support of social interaction - the feedback and connections with those who have similar motivations

One of the students mentioned how this informality, as contrasted with the formality of the traditional thesis format, helped her think, generate ideas, and receive feedback, knowing that she could focus only on the ideas and not worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar, formatting, and so forth. This informality in tone, ideas, format, and length led to freedom to express ideas in emergent states and to experiment with alternate themes in data analysis.

Thus, professionals (and students) can utilize blogging as means to further their research and inquiry into relevant topics. Blogs can become the part of the process or journey of professional development. Because blogs allow for the responses and feedback of others, ideas can emerge through collaboration. Blogs are not meant to be a “soliloquy board” (Helms as cited in Bufferington), and only work when we read and respond to the work of others. To blog or not blog... that is the question!

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