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SoTL and Blogging


As I peruse through the blogs that I follow, I am continually asking myself “How do these written sources inform my teaching practice and my continued learning?” I realize as I look for new information within the field of higher education that not all blog sites meet Howard Rheingold’s CRAP detection  test I teach in my Introduction to Educational Technology course. Although most blogs do include current information and continue to update and inform the topic at hand, the reliability is difficult to ascertain. Mind you, the kind of information included in the resources are well vetted yet most of the content appears to be primarily opinion. That being said, I am always wondering how much of the content is appealing due to following like minded individuals. I decided to search for a variety of blogs to identify commonalities that would help me create a selection process that would transcend my concern with the reliability and point of view of the author.

In a recent blog post in the Chronicle for Higher Education, I ran across an author I had not followed previously. Although the blog post was a year old, the contents intrigued me. I followed an embedded link to the Bloomsbury Academic site that provided insight into the authors comparison of authorship online and in book form.  Weller (2011)-the author of the blog and book The Digital Scholar: How Technology is Transforming Digital Practice- dedicates an entire chapter scholarship and the definition prior to 2000 and beyond.  In this chapter he discusses Boyer’s (1990) components of scholarship:

  1. discovery,
  2. integration,
  3. application, and
  4. teaching.

Although Boyer’s work tends to be sited and used more readily in the humanities and not in the sciences, the intention of learning, connecting, and implementation within one’s practice are all important parts of scholarship. Weller also includes seven “primitives” of scholarship identified by Unsworth (2000). These include:

  1. discovering,
  2. annotating,
  3. comparing,
  4. referring,
  5. sampling,
  6. illustrating, and
  7. representing.

Reviewing the above lists and authors, I wondered how I could use these components of scholarship to guide my selection of scholarly blogs? I believe the first step is connecting the overarching ideas in CRAP detection and the specific content elements in Boyer’s and Unsworth’s research. My first goal is to create my own iteration of scholarly components. Pulling from the two references noted above I have chosen to use the following as markers during my blog searches:

  1. an overt attempt to discover new content,
  2. annotation of prior studies that support an integration of interpretation and cross curricular use,
  3. application of content through sampling, and
  4. representation of content within teaching.

My second goal is to merge the scholarly components with Rheigold’s CRAP detection. Thus, when I am reviewing the currency of the content I will make sure that there is an overt attempt of the author to share discovery of new content. Next, I will make sure that the reliability of the information is supported by annotations of prior studies conducted within the field.
Third, I will look for the authority of the author as it relates to the application of the content through sampling within the field of study. Finally, the author’s point of view should relate the content to the application and representation within the teaching field.

I am excited to begin my trial to see if this merger helps to identify scholarly blogs. I will keep you updated on my successes and failures in addition to new information Weller (2011) shares in his book.


Boyer, E. (1991). The Scholarship of Teaching from: Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate, College Teaching, 39 (1).

Unsworth J., 2000 “Scholarly Primitives : What Methods Do Humanities Researchers Have in Common, and How Might Our Tools Reflect This?’ Symposium on ‘Humanities Computing: Formal Methods, Experimental Practice.” King’s College LondonMay 13Available athttp://www3.isrl.illinois.edu/~unsworth/Kings.5-00/primitives.html, 11 February 2011

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