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Blog Talk Garage: OMG I’m on the Front Page!

The Blog Talk Garage series was an inspiring way to get started with DML Commons. Here some things I learned from the webinar hosts Lee Bessette, Maha Bali, Laura Hilliger, Jim Groom, Alan Levine, and Howard Rheingold

As a Junior Scholar, I hear mixed messages about sharing ideas, work in progress and status reports online. On the one hand, senior scholar suggest to be considerate about what to share in the open before having established oneself in the field. Someone may come across an interesting idea, pick it up and further develop it without remembering the source. On the other hand, senior scholars advice to share ideas and work early and often. Blogs can be an opportunity to connect to people across the world in ways that is not usually possible through conventional publishing. DML Commons seems like a safe space to practice publishing in the open. Figuring out how to strike a balance is one of the things I hope to explore during the course.

Here is an overview of what else I learned about blogging from the Blog Talk Garage webinar series: 

It is super easy to connect a blog to DML Commons

  • Pick a good name and blog platform (e.g., Wordpress, Blogger, Tumblr)
  • Set up the blog and worry about looks later
  • Set up a Twitter account
  • Write and publish a blog post (e.g., introduce yourself and play with hashtags)
  • Connect the DML Commons site via form: http://dmlcommons.net/connect/ 
  • Info you’ll need: Twitter name, blog URL, blog RSS feed (I googled “How to find RSS feed Tumblr?”)
  • Go to http://dmlcommons.net/ and refresh, refresh, refresh, refresh, refresh until your post shows up

Reasons to blog

  • Blogging can help to learn how to write great titles and to use hashtags as categorization tools. 
  • Blogging is for sharing, for attracting collaborators, for commenting on other people’s posts, for remixing work through cross referencing and linking across several posts by different people.
  • Document the history of a project for people to get involved.
  • Open writing can be a reflective thinking process and for getting feedback as early as possible.
  • For additional reasons for why to blog, go to #DMLCommons on Twitter.
  • Use writing for taking a stand.
  • Your blog can be a way to keep track of ideas.
  • As a way to distribute your ideas, through open publishing on blogs, more people can benefit from your work.
  • Future of Education: In the future you will be at risk if you are not participating in the connected publishing alongside sanctioned peer-reviewed publishing. – Howard Rheingold

Commenting

  • Explore: Find your own commenting style
  • Enrich: Add to the post your commenting on
  • Distribute: There is no sharp distinction between online spaces, comment where you are (shared URL on Twitter, Facebook etc. or the blog itself).
  • Encourage others to comment by adding questions at the end of your post.
  • Converse: link to other posts and resources

Choosing what to blog about

  • Talk about what you are thinking about right now 
  • Let day-to-day interactions inspire you to find connections to your academic work
  • Mix personal and professional items, there is no need for a sharp distinction. Blogging gives the opportunity to Interject something on who you are.
  • Blog posts do not need to be about new topics, they can be a place for ongoing reflection about a topic that interests you. It can be an incentive for others to return to a topic.
  • For some people, the point emerges in writing.

Blogs and moving forward in DML Commons

  • Blogs will grow throughout the course.
  • Posts can be woven together to create connective posts that lead people back to original blog posts to add to the emerging of a conversation that is bigger than the sum of each parts.
  • Practice with other participants how to encourage openness (e.g., sharing drafts, commenting etc.)
  • Looking back later, the DML Commons blog can be a way of seeing how public writing improved, perhaps through valuable feedback from other participants.
  • Use your posts to point to ideas you want to share about. 

Remember

  • Take control over how to present yourself, e.g., by making trolls invisible. 
  • Write regularly to make sure that there is not only one post out there.
  • Find relevant images to augment your text in meaningful ways.

Making and Learning together

I am a doctoral student at the IU School of Education, and I am working as part of Dr. Kylie Peppler’s Creativity Labs on interesting projects that bridge my personal and educational interests in participatory design and making. 

Besides making fun things like DIY documentation stations for makers to capture, explore and share their work, facilitating design workshops in makerspaces across the US (see Maker Ed Open Portfolio Project), and crafting squishy circuits with pre-schoolers, I like to think about participatory design and how engaging in this dialogical design practice may support learning.

I have had the pleasure to be part of the DML Commons steering committee, co-designing two units for the Open Course: one for design-based research and one for Professional Pathways.

I am excited to see the courses take off and am looking forward to making new connections and learning, sharing and collaborating with the DML Commons community in the weeks to come!