Blogging and lifelong learning
The authors conducted a study into how blogging supports non-formal learning, which they define as learning that happens on the learner’s own time, that is self-directed, and that is triggered by learner’s own goals or interests. The study included only 11 Finnish bloggers, all between 26 and 37 years old, almost all female, who seemingly blog about makeup, fashion, and food (among other topics), and none of that sounds very promising for me and my context. However, the article did yield some interesting insights.
- Creating, reflecting, and discussing in digital environments
- Blogging as self-actualization
- The field of blogging
- The functions of blogging and active participation
- Learning and studying
- Guidance and tutoring
- Bringing new perspectives to public discussions
- Applying expertise
- Creating in one’s own space and at one’s own pace
- Being part of a digital media culture
- Discussion and conclusion
Blogs are a form of digital media. Digital media (in general) support active participation and informal mentoring. Blogging (in particular) supports reflective writing. At least one study has found that bloggers think of blogging as a way to pursue their intellectual interests, but not as a community-centered activity. In this study, bloggers indicated that they think of blogging as not work, even though some blogs were related to their field or were in some ways related to their income.
Reasons for blogging
To learn and study:
- They considered blogging a tool to support their self-directed study.
- Motivation: ‘The desire to impress an audience by offering new and high quality content sometimes forced bloggers to struggle but also to work patiently with their topics, and in this way to excel’ (Harju et al., 2016, p. 10).
To give and get guidance:
- These bloggers try to provide specific tips, tutorials, advice, and parables
- Motivation: These bloggers have as their main motivation a desire to help others.
To influence ideas:
- These bloggers write in a journalistic style.
- Motivation: They want to add to an ongoing public dialogue, influence perspectives and help shape understanding.
To promote their expertise:
- These bloggers write in a factual style, sometimes formal or sometimes purposefully as a peer.
- Motivation: They want to enhance their image, usually in a work-related field (to advance in their career or to gain new customers).
To express themselves in a creative endeavor:
- These bloggers enjoy the creative process of writing, taking photos, and crafting visually appealing blogs.
- Motivation: They want to express themselves through creativity.
To engage with others:
- These bloggers request and desire feedback from others, sometimes leaving comments as ‘gifts exchanged with other bloggers’ (Harju et al., 2016, p. 12).
- Motivation: They want to get feedback about their writing, and also engage in the social connections that can happen via blog comments.
‘The audience, either actual or imaginary, is the spice of blogging. The sociality of blogs can promote joy and feelings of togetherness, and can motivate bloggers to create new posts and even to excel at it. In addition, other bloggers and discussions in blogs can offer opportunities for learning’ (Harju et al., 2016, p. 13).