Yesterday I was reading a blog discussing the purpose of scholarship and the dissemination of research and new learning within the academic community. As I read, I came across this quote:
“Over and above anything else that academics do, they are observers: why, what, when and how is our bread and butter. It is unsurprising then that many bloggers are academics: those people already active in the market for ideas are likely to explore different avenues for communicating with different parts of the market.” (Maslen, 2011)
I began to wonder about the academy and the convergence of teaching and research. As researchers we are constantly observing our surroundings (as stated above) and questioning the reliability, validity, and influence of the collected knowledge base in our discipline. As educators, we are continually observing our students’ learning to validate the reliability of the influence of our practice. Is one purpose not the same as the other? If so, then what platform is best for working toward our purpose?
For a long time there were two main platforms: visual and spoken. Although the medium has changed over time (scrolls, stump speeches, hard bound books and articles, soft bound collections and editions) we now have a platform that allows a multi-modal creation. Although these mediums are engaging, thought provoking to create, and complex; they are not what is exciting to me as a learner, a teacher, and an inquirer. The ability to reach massive audiences and learn from them is what causes excitement and exhilaration!
Using social media platforms not only make creation in the visual and spoken ideas easier, but allows for an interaction that does not come from a static piece of work. We now have the ability to aggregate massive amounts of content in one place that can be accessed from anywhere. Taking pieces of information and synthesizing them (mash-ups) into new ideas and products guides individual and group critical thinking. But the most educationally liberating, is the ability to reach multiple audiences (peers included) in fractions of a second. Social media platforms transcend the dissemination of important research, newly designed processes, as well as personal experiences from our prior publishing practices to people we may never meet and places we might never visit. Not for a moment would I suggest trading one venue for another. However, I would say that having the opportunity to use both venues increases my knowledge growth and sharing.
Being able to share my learning and connect with others in real time has changed my scholarship and my practice. If I am not sharing my learning I am no longer an educator.
Casper, S.T. (2011, June. Why academics should blog: A college of one’s own. [Web Log Post]. Retrieved August 10, 2013 from http://www.dictionaryofneurology.com/2011/04/why-academics-should-blog-college-of.html
Maslen, G. (2011, June). Academics and universities should embrace blogging as a vital tool of academic communication and impact. [Web Log Post]. Retrieved August 10, 2013 from http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2011/06/20/academics-blogging-vital-tool-for-academic-communication-impact/