Time to blog about blogging! Things 3 and 4 are all about blogging as the original Learning 2.0 programme used blogs as a way to track the progress of participants and encourage them to reflect on their learning. All participants were required to create a blog and register it and all participant blogs were listed on the main blog to encourage participation and support. Bloggers were allowed to be anonymous as long as the programme administrators knew who they were. For me this is a fascinating part of the learning 2.0 programme as reading these blogs is a great insight into what participants felt while actually participating. I’m sure this was much more valuable than trawling through piles of evaluation forms at the end of the course! There is an obvious downside in that many people feel as uncomfortable about ‘public writing’ as public speaking and making that writing compulsory, even anonymously, could be very intimidating. I came across at least one programme that made the blogging optional and used commenting on a main blog as a record of progress. Much as I have enjoyed reading the blogs I think I’d be tempted to go with the optional blog and use commenting more. I can see the value of using blogging as an assessment but if participants only have a limited amount of time to complete each task there could be a danger that more time is spent writing and rewriting the blog post than playing with and enjoying the tasks.
But what has blogging got to do with libraries? Explaining blogging is never as difficult as explaining the value of blogging. As always, the CommonCraft team have a great video on blogs to help but I think many people still view blogs as slightly dodgy amateur ramblings that are only read by people with far too much time on their hands. The only way to get past this has to be by demonstrating useful blogs full of great content. The Orange County Library System were able to use their own blogs for ‘Introduction to Blogs‘ including their Library Director’s blog ‘Library Leader‘ but there are plenty of great library related blogs out there to choose from. For anyone talking about public library blogs in the UK & Ireland I’d recommend The Manchester Lit List or the Galway Public Libraries Blog as good examples of sharing ‘official’ library blogs. But although news blogs are great for sharing information they can be nothing more than an easy way to produce an RSS feed and may be best kept for the RSS section of the programme.
My favourite blogs are the ones that challenge me to think and participate in the discussion. Since I’m interested in libraries and technology they tend to be library related blogs but now that blogging has been around for a while there are blogs to interest everyone and the Technorati Blog Directory can be useful for demonstrating this. Discussions can be difficult to demonstrate as they can take place over a number of blogs as writers link and respond to one another. Gaming in libraries is a great topic for provoking debate so I’d have to recommend The Shifted Librarian for examples of blog commenting and discussions.
Finally, what do you do when you have too many blogs to read? Start writing a blog weeding policy? I don’t think there’s an easy solution to this one although it certainly gets regularly addressed as a problem. Library and Information Update now has a regular column called ‘Blogwatch’ providing a summary of some key topics from library related blogs but I’m not sure they’re still hot topics by the time the print copy of Update comes through my door. I’d love to hear if anyone has come across an online equivalent, a blog that summarises what’s hot in library blogland? Or if you only had 10 minutes a day, what key blogs would you choose to keep up to date with library issues? Hmmm… off to think about that one!