4.2 Blogging as Reflection

Activity 16: Catherine and Megan

Once you’ve read Megan and Catherine’s blog posts, think about the following questions, then post your answers and comments below:

  • Why do Catherine and Megan blog?
  • Do you think they achieve what they set out to do?
  • Would you be comfortable sharing as they do? If not, why not?

Once you’ve finished, head back to section 4.2.

Megan’s purpose in blogging appears to be to develop her own research skills while also contributing to the development of a shared scientific community that shares openly and through doing so co-develop their skills and research competences. Catherine’s way of using er blog seems to be part reflexive-practitioner, part as a means to share her intitial thinking about her current research which allows for the possibility of feedback from interested scholars. Both of them are engaging in a form of open research by discussing their roles or methodologies as researchers and inviting commentary and critique.

I’m not sure if I would be that comfortable sharing as they do just yet, as I still feel I need more experience and knowledge as a researcher to build up my own competence. Nevertheless, I applaud the effort!

Yes, I agree with Thomas about the different purposes for Catherine and Megan’s reflective blogging, and I think they both achieve their purpose, admirably.

In Megan’s blog, I was particularly struck by the point about “having a beginner’s mind”, and that it’s something to embrace as you’re more open to possibilities, to uncertainty, and to learning, because it accords well with my own experience of blogging and developing as an open learner. Learning and reflecting openly seems to underscore the vulnerability and risk that’s inherent
and asks that we recognize it and embrace it. After all, in order to learn (or progress your research project) you’ve got to put something ‘out there’, thus exposing your ignorance, your difference, your half-baked understanding, your emergent findings – whatever. As such, reflecting openly is also about sharing; it’s about putting something out there for mutual benefit and for learning together. Over the last couple of years I’ve developed some level of comfort with the process, but as I’ve recently written, “it’s not easily going to be the default mode for everyone. It’s not exactly a walk in the park – learning in the open is complex, risky and emotional; good job it’s also rewarding and fun”.

I think the motivations for blogging, from the two examples, cluster into three types: Selfless, social and selfish

Selfless - the outbound process. The contribution of own thoughts and research to the outside world. As Megan puts it “You put your work out there, not only to be discovered, but also to start finding your own voice”.

Social - the interactive process. The Web 2.0 value of social and collaborative learning. Blogging and responding seem to fit the Social Constructivist approach to learning.

Selfish - the inbound process, a validation process. Essentially, exposing research and ideas through blogging is likely to generate legitimate challenge or questioning which may enable corrective action. Better now, at what Catherine calls the “liminal” stage, than at the time of defending a PhD thesis!

All these are a positive addition to the closed and isolated world of traditional research where outside academic interaction is either absent or restricted to a narrow group of close associates.

Both bloggers seem to like using their blogs, as noted by everyone else who commented before me, as a way to organize and crystallize their thoughts. They clearly achieved that goal, as their musings came to interesting points. In the case of Catherine’s blog entry, it looks like maybe she found some of those points after the fact, and recorded them in her postscript. (I could be wrong about that.)

Would I be comfortable sharing that much? Nope. :] Megan addressed some of the issues that probably plague a lot of people, which essentially boil down to stage fright. Because research is by definition working on stuff you don’t know how to do, imposter syndrome and stage fright play a big part in what people share, and how they do it. It makes sense that Megan (and most researchers who blog, which should come as no surprise) find it valuable to overcome those issues. For my part, I’ve looked over my private musings and thought “Oh god did I really write that? It’s terrible!” often enough that I’m careful about what I put online, lest I find my blithering stupidity fossilized on the Internet…

I am just completing what is the first completely distance MA in fine art in Europe. It has been a very long four years, during which I have kept my entire work on a blog - reflective journal, research material, jottings, trials and all else. although it is a closed community which has access to that, I now thoroughly have the habit of blogging, and of sharing information and thoughts in progress. I will soon have the time to set up new projects, and appreciate the idea of having specific blogs for particular projects, and even particular audiences. I have a popup gallery blog which will be a great platform for a research project, mixing it with art and other projects.
I don’t have much to add to the comments, which fairly summarise the points - but blogging is not just about sharing information, it’s also a great place to crystallise and collate thinking, giving an entire project an identity.

I agree that blogs work well as a repository for project work and reflection. In this mode they are convergent with eportfolios which some HE are using constructively for collating and critiquing portfolios associated with a course or module.

I got completely side-tracked by these 2 special people and followed many of their links!

Catherine is practising being the person with the digital identity that she is studying, which will ultimately give her more insight for her PhD and beyond.
Megan is practising being the person she is expecting teachers to be, but also growing and this will enhance her ability to spread the Open textbooks they produce.

I do not feel comfortable in this space, and describing why is almost impossible, but think I need to reread these blogs (and others) a few times.