Years ago, back when I was a learning analyst, a colleague, Gary Woodill, had a big idea. He suggested we create a "Filter Blog"to draw traffic to our Web site. Gary was a big fan of Stephen Downes, who has an immensely popular newsletter on the topic of online learning called OLDaily. Our Blog was modelled on Stephen's e-newsletter. Every day, Gary Woodill, Janet Clarey, Tom Werner, and I would each spend about 30- to 45-minutes browsing news headlines related to workplace learning and development. Each of us would then summarize a story and provide our own analysis. With four posts per day, this Blog quickly became popular and met our goal of drawing traffic to our Web site. But, it also turned out to be a great learning tool. If you want to become an expert on a topic, start a filter Blog and commit to writing at least one post per week.
- You'll quickly get an understanding of what's going on in your topic area
- You'll develop critical thinking skills by having to differentiate valuable information from "fluff"
- You'll quickly identify the experts in your topic area since many of the resources you read will all point to the same source
- Your writing skills will improve
- With time, you''ll create a huge, searchable repository of valuable information
- Your posts will contribute to the knowledge of others
Great Blogging platforms such as Wordpress and Blogger are free, so your only investment in adding Blogs to your learning initiative is the time required to read content and write posts. Setting up a new Blog, either by opening an account with one of the popular hosted platforms, or by installing Blogging software on your own server, takes minutes. It isn't necessary for your LMS to contain built-in Blogging features. Blogs can be included within your learning management system even if you use third-party Blogging software. Here's an example of this Blog added as a resource:
Blogs can also be integrated into courses. Here's an example of a task to read and comment on a Blog post inserted as a lesson within a course:
Used this way, Blogs are an easy way to foster social learning activities within your LMS. Since the Blogs are accessible through the learning management system, formal and social learning content reside side-by-side. There's no need for learners to bookmark different resources. All can be accessed from the portal.