Should All Learning Professionals be Blogging?This is an interesting question and it’s quite timely given recent occurrences.
- Brandon Hall Closes Free Yahoo Discussion Groups
In case you hadn't seen this, Brandon Hall has decided to stop moderating and to close their Yahoo Groups discussion groups and BH is starting an eventually paid social networking service. This sparked heated response from people who were heavier users of these groups.
- Corporate eLearning Professionals are Blogging More
More corporate eLearning professionals are taking up blogging. A couple recent interesting blogs as examples are:
In the Middle of the Curve - Good example post that I cite later: Fear of Blogging.
eTraining in the Trenches - Example post - Who Spends 2 Nonstop Hours on a Single Course?
Learn Me Happy - Example post - A really worrying trend....
and of course,
Corporate eLearning Development - Example - Is Your eLearning Broken?
Okay, so to me this is a timely question, but I want to avoid the "Should all do it?" question. "All" won’t happen anytime soon. Instead, but let me make a case for why YOU should.
Blogs are a Great Personal Learning Tool
As learning professionals, we should all be at the forefront of knowing how to learn ourselves. Writing is probably the single best way to codify personal knowledge. A blog is a fantastic way to do this and at the same time do it in a way that allows you to explore topics with others.
And as you gain experience with blogs, you can start to gain experience with other Personal Learning Tools.
Blogs are a Great New Community Mechanism
Take a look at Nancy White’s great paper - Blogs and Community – launching a new paradigm for online community?
What Nancy calls a topic centric community points out that as posts occur and other people comment on those posts or put up posts on their own blog, a discussion forms. Sure, it's messier than a discussion in a forum, but it allows communities to form in a more organic way (based on common interests). It also allows more of the person to come through. Personally, I’ve connected with several bloggers and have got to know them through their blogs. Brent Schlenker - Corporate eLearning Development - I met through blogging and through that he's going to be on a panel with me at DevLearn. I don’t feel the same sense of connection from threaded discussions.
On this topic, it's worth looking at What's Better to Build Community: Blogs or Forums? What struck me was:
- In general, blogs are great at connecting and bridging to a NEW community.
- In general, forums are great at harnessing and growing an EXISTING community.
Put in a different way, blogs allow us to grow a community without going to a single location. A forum or mailing list is most effective if everyone agrees to go to that single location and abide by those norms. Blogs allow community to be formed based on common interests and the community grows and evolves in a very fluid manner.
So, let me end this section by saying that YOU SHOULD take up starts with greatly improving your personal learning and includes a nice benefit of blogging to join an interesting community.
Now Let’s Examine Why You Won’t Start Blogging
The 1% Rule says that in collaborative environments, e.g., discussion groups, for every 100 people who sign up, 89 will lurk, 10 will participate in a limited fashion, and 1 will regularly post content. This has been seen across a variety of collaborative environments. So, history tells us that we should expect relatively low participation levels with Blogs (maybe 1%). However, learning professionals are way below 1% levels.
So, what reasons do people give?
- Cost or No Blog Tools Available
Whoops, it’s free from a lot of places. Try http://www.blogger.com/.
- Fear – Take a look at the post Fear of Blogging:
I had to fight through ALL of these emotions when I started blogging. - Will I be accepted or rejected?- How much criticism will I get?- Will others discoverNote: Wendy got over her fear and does a great job raising interesting questions on her blog.
that I am a phony and realize that I have absolutely no clue of what I am talking about?
- Lack of Time
How much time should you spend learning on your own each month about eLearning? Do you think you would be better served rearranging the time you spend to actually codify your learning?
- My Corporation Won’t Let Me
Most corporations have no such restrictions. Of course, you shouldn’t come close to the line of divulging anything sensitive and should avoid calling your boss a jerk, but having a discussion around a topic like – "should we be blogging" – is a great thing to do.
My honest belief is that even if you don't post regularly on your blog, but do post around interesting challenges you are facing, you will find personal value in blogging. If you start, let bloggers know. Post a response to the LCB Big Question. Post a challenge you are facing. If you don't find value, then let me know - because I will be really surprised.
Come on in - the water's fine.