Blogging is becoming a more important part of my life as an academic. I started blogging around August 2010 (and moved to WordPress in 2011) as a way of sharing interesting resources with students in online subjects I taught on community engagement and community capacity building, and later on working more broadly with families and communities. Given how I became an academic, I’m also interested in providing material that is relevant to practitioners working with families and communities.
The following are some of the ways I use blogging as an academic.
1. To collect resources for students and practitioners on working with families and communities
As I come across useful or interesting resources on working with families and communities, I put them on the blog. I often try to add something that adds value to the original material. For example, the Collaborative for Building After-School Systems has a video on 10 Ways to build school-community partnerships which I added to my blog with a list of their 10 ideas. At other times I place an interesting resource in the context of concepts covered in courses I teach. For example, Angela Blanchard has a great TED talk (Building on the strengths of communities) which I placed in the context of asset-based community-driven development.
2. To write original content for students
I am increasingly writing original content for students to introduce concepts (e.g., What is community capacity building?) or to discuss useful strategies (e.g., Making parents feel welcome in schools). Because my teaching is nearly all online, providing material through my blog is a good way to make it easily available.
3. To raise environmental issues and to discuss ways we can contribute to a more sustainable world
We are facing major environmental challenges and need to explore ways of becoming more sustainable. As much of my teaching has focused on community engagement, I have a particular interest in how community engagement can help create alternatives that are more sustainable. Through my blog I try to encourage readers to think how we can contribute to a more sustainable future as individuals (e.g., Parenting for a better world) and as a community (What is the Transition Streets Challenge?).
4. To reflect on, and document, my work
I continue to be actively involved in the practice of working with families and communities, and the blog is an opportunity to reflect on, and document, this work. In particular, I use it to reflect on my work on special projects (e.g., supporting rural family service to incorporate evidence-based practice or evidence-informed practice into their work) and my involvement in Alternatives to Violence Project workshops.
5. To help me develop my writing
Like many academics, I find writing challenging and the blog is a way to develop my writing. At times my posts are fairly informal (e.g., Reflections on the election) and at other times they are more formal (e.g., A strengths-based approach to collective impact).
6. To make my publications easily available
The blog is a good way to make my publications available to other people (e.g., Engaging Aboriginal fathers and Service-learning at retreats for children with special needs and their families).
7. To develop research ideas and publications
I sometimes use the blog to develop research ideas and publications (e.g., Evidence-based programs in rural family services). Writing for the blog forces me to refine my thinking and helps me create material that can be used towards a publication.
8. To reach the audience I want to reach
Finally, I’m particularly interested in writing for practitioners who often don’t have access to academic publications (if they even wanted to read them). As well as making academic publications available through the blog, I can also write posts specifically aimed at practitioners (e.g., An interactive exercise exploring parenting styles).
I’m convinced that blogging can be a useful tool for academics and hope that it will assist me to develop as an academic while maintaining my focus on the practice of strengths-based approaches to working with families and communities.
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