Looking at the date of my last post, it’s been almost exactly two months since I last posted. I suppose that’s not surprising, since those two months contained an awful lot of stuff happening elsewhere in my life, such as moving house and Christmas.
However, it does mean that I’ve so far missed out on the traditional ritual of looking back on one’s year to date and using it as blog-fodder. So here we are then. Time to have a look back and see what I’ve learned from the experience so far.
2009 has been my first full year of blogging. It took me a while to get going, and to begin finding my voice (I’m still working on that), but then I made some decisions about my future career and suddenly this blog had a purpose: to give me a way to join in the e-learning community, reflect and learn. Since then, I’ve posted on pretty much whatever’s seemed appropriate, and started getting to grips with what makes this medium tick.
What did people read?
My most popular (i.e. most viewed) posts seem to fit into one or both of two categories: “hot topics” and conversations.
By “hot topics”, I mean subjects which interest a large portion of the online community enough to see what I’ve got to say. Examples of this type of post include:
- My three part beginners guide to Twitter;
- A brief note on the University of Sheffield’s decision to use Google Mail.
By “conversations”, I refer to posts which are actively trying to engage with my audience. My favourite of these (and my favourite post of the year) has to be:
I think its success lies in the fact that it was a question broad enough for everyone to have an opinion on and important enough for many people to want to comment on. I intentionally kept the original post quite short, and ensured that the question I was asking stood out.
Then, of course, there are posts which fall into both categories, such as my contribution to the debate on the death or otherwise of the VLE.
What didn’t work?
I tried a couple of different things to keep things interesting, such as posting a weekly summary of links that I’d found around the internet and trying monthly themes, but neither of these really caught on as I didn’t have the motivation to keep on with them.
I think perhaps the monthly theme idea would work better for a blog which was consciously aimed at being educational resource for the reader, forming part of the ongoing story which keeps learners engaged. For this blog, though, which is more reflective and tends to be a reaction to my own thoughts and experiences, it feels unnecessarily prescriptive.
In August, I moved from Wordpress.com to my own self-hosted blog, thanks to the generosity of a friend with a server to host it. I wanted to have scope to experiment and expand, so I went with Wordpress MU, the multi-user version of Wordpress which allows multiple blogs to run off a single installation.
I also tried my hand at writing some fiction in response to a challenge on Joanna Young’s Confident Writing blog. I really enjoyed it, but decided that it didn’t really fit into my plan for this blog, so I took advantage of Wordpress MU and started a separate non-work-related blog to keep all of the random writings and photos that I wanted to share.
I’ve found blogging to be valuable. It lets me reflect and organise my thoughts in a form suitable for consumption by other human beings; it lets me connect to the e-learning community and build a useful professional network; it lets me take part in a global conversation.
Here’s looking forward to the next twelve months.