Blogging for Gold or Blog Bog.

At my institution we have been grappling with the role of blogging. To date, most of the informal discussion has centered on the relationship between personal blog content and the institution's image branding. Administrators, are not inclined to support technologies that introduce risk to the institution and have a vague return on investment, i.e. what exactly is in it for the institution? Some faculty, the early adopters, have recognized the academic value and have, without any explicit endorsement from the organization, found ways to make it available and integrate it with some of their courses. Of course, a blog site does not increase institutional risk in-and-of-itself any more than web pages. And web pages have been available to all the members of this community since the mid-nineties.

So what's the issue? There is simply a broader understanding and awareness of the communicative power of the web then in the past. Administrators are more aware and fully appreciate that the web is the way future and current students, and alum's engage with the institution. Concurrent with that awareness, most administrators recognize that the institutional message and content need to be controled, i.e., that there needs to be accountability. Higher Education is a competitive environment, consequently institutions need to take a more corporate, i.e., controled approach to organizational branding and marketing. At the same time there is a begrudging understanding among those familiar with the realities of public higher education that control and accountability, within moral and ethical limits, are somewhat antithetical to the values of an academic institution community. The exchange of ideas or debate around issues are what makes a academic community vibrant and precisely why a blog is such an attractive tool for the academic environment.

It has been suggested that blogging would be more readily acceptable if it could be contained within the community. This is a variation on the "walled-gardened" thinking of Web 1.0 and a manifestation of the desire to exercise control. Valid arguments can be made for this model. It would limit institution exposure, but more importantly may help protect students, argueably still in their formative years, from themselves as evidenced by the lack of judgment by many who use Facebook or mySpace poorly. On the other hand, a valid argument can be made that it's appropriate for college ages students to leave the nest with guidance from their academic institution. It will be interesting to see where the walled vs. open debate leads.

Assuming that at some point there is resolution on whether or not to have an official institutional (this site, is still a pilot for my institution) blog site for the institution, a debate, one that will be even more difficulty to navigate than the above, may develop surrounding compensation as professional academic boundries are blurred with the adoption of more Web 2.0 opportunities. In other words, will a professor be denied promotion or tenure, because they spend too much time blogging at their personal blog which generates ad revenue? Or the converse, will a professor be denied P and T because they don't "publish" enough on the institutional blog with no ad revenue? In the end blogging, regardless of ad revenue, will come to be seen as an extension of the research and publish requirement of academic environments, but only after some vigorous debate.

blog, blogging, branding, marketing, university, college

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About ken

Ken is the Director of MIS and Instructional Technology at Plymouth State University where he enjoys the opportunity to work with energetic, intelligent, motivated, competent and caring colleagues to advance the integration of technology into the institutional academic and administrative environments in the effort to promote a more informed citizenry.

4 thoughts on “Blogging for Gold or Blog Bog.

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