Compressed version of a presentation for ALT-C 2010 on the postgrauate research student of blogging.
Who are you?
•We began our PhD work in 2005, all working on areas of educational technology.
•PhDs complete, graduation ceremony this summer, working as researchers and lecturers for approx 18 months.
What were you investigating?
This was a five-year study of research blogging.
What are blogs?
•Blogs = frequently updated websites consisting of short posts, usually personal, with commentary and links.
What are research blogs?
Online versions of research journal. Research journals are used as records, memoranda and as vehicles for reflection that can make us more aware of what we are doing.
Blogs offer additional features such as the blogroll, search facilities and categories – and the possibility of dialogue.
What data did you use?
We have now been blogging - and analysing our blogs - for nearly five years
Authentic source – not just blogs set up for the duration of a course or for purposes of assessment. Data
Our pilot study involved four blogs over a period of 11 months.
- And a group blog that no longer exists
What did you find out during your pilot study?
Reported this at ALT-C in 2007
You can find the paper via http://oro.open.ac.uk/12275
At this stage we were investigating the ways in which blogging a research journal might influence postgraduate research.
A grounded theory analysis of the four blogs over a year found that the posts could be classified in six ways.
Moving away from the textbook reasons as to why you keep a research journal – and some of the categories clearly relate to the community aspects of research blogging.
Can you summarise the findings of your pilot study?
Blogs were used to promote a community where students were encouraged to reflect and share ideas, skills and stories of research life. The blogs also acted as memory repositories and encouraged collaboration and educational dialogue.
Blogs support communities of practice. We can link to academics in our office, our department across the OU, and at other universities.
It’s cheaper than going to conferences – although it doesn’t involve as much Guinness.
The comment facility enables us to build knowledge through educational dialogue.
What did your pilot study conclude?
Blogs can link us into the worldwide academic community.
Blogging can support and extend the learning of postgraduate students.
It is more than an electronic form of the traditional, written research journal in that it offers a range of new affordances that can improve the experience of the postgraduate research student.
Universities should, therefore, offer a blogging facility to research students
Supervisors should draw attention to the potential benefits of this method of keeping a journal
Authors of books on research methods should cover this area in some detail.
What did you do in your main study?
We investigated these questions – which emerged from our pilot study.
Digital scholarship had become more of an issue. How do you evaluate online academic interaction? How does it compare to traditional books and journals and courses?
Which data did you use for the main study?
Our blogging practice had changed. We no longer used the group blog we had set up to support the pilot.
(Note that, because these were authentic blogs not set up for assessment purposes, we kept them going and we kept blogging)
We started a couple of targeted, outward-facing blogs
We were working as part of project teams, and we set up blogs relating to those.
Your data sources changed over the five years. What else changed?
We worked through and finis