Two quick ways to kill off blogging in education

Written by James

This has been rumbling away for a while with me so it needs a way out… I’m getting a kinda feeling (a bit like Lindon) that things are about to change with blogging and stuff (at least in higher ed).

Things like all of these ‘Weblogs @’ programs, the fact that multi-user weblogging is now a matter of choice rather than possibility, the number of ‘out of the blue’ calls I’m getting from faculty interested in this, the amount of interest in Blogtalk from across the academic spectrum and the number of mentions of blogging that seem to crop up at the last Educause conf (here’s a search, I’ve got some papers but don’t think they’re publically available).

I guess I don’t feel like I’m pushing so much anymore, more that it’s just happening around me. Which is a bit scary but also good but also scary as, I reckon, there are at least two ways that blogging in higher ed can swiftly do itself in, so, starting on the (hypothetical of course) local level and working outwards:

Number 1: The ‘IT Solutions Debacle’

Somewhere in the realms of power all of this seeps through to a VC or DVC and (that’s vice-chancellor and deputy… nothing to do with capital :o) and ‘it is spoken’… weblogs are to be a demonstration of the innovative and wonderful institution we are & this will get us press.

The head of IT is called in and asked to implement a weblog solution (for, after all, are these not the same as email, just another technology, just like our LMS!) they get the web manager who sorts out a template, they figure ‘hey, this is just adding content to a form isn’t it?’ and build it themselves, they put RSS, comments and other such riff-raff as ‘version 2’ (i.e. will never be done) and the spanking new system is unveiled to all and made compulsory to many.

Depression, despair and desolation sets in and blogging is never spoken of again.

Number 2: The ‘Learning Management System Takeover’

After much careful consideration and in being entirely responsive to customer needs one or more of the behemoths (sp?) of the Learning, ahem, sorry, Courseware Management Systems decides that blogging is a definite ‘must have’, as this verges on being a competitive advantage the other one follows them and before you know it every learner has their own blog. Hurrah!

Naturally these are within their authenticated environment. And only last for a 15 week semester (before being archived with the rest of the course) . And are basically form-filling exercises. And have alphanumeric grading possibilities for each post, making them ‘key assessment criteria’. And. And. And.

Can you think of any more?