The Blogs are Coming!
By Dr. Pete Smith, Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs
In the past several years, Weblogs or "blogs" have popped up everywhere: personal journals written by friends and colleagues, blogs for business and industry to create a dialogue with their customers, as well as millions of blogs on diverse topics from "aardvarks" to "zoology." Weblogs on the topics of current events and politics are especially visible in the run-up to a presidential election year, and many political candidates now make blogging a part of their Internet presence. In May of this year, Technorati, the blog search engine, was indexing more than 70 million Weblogs!
What is a blog? In short, it is an easy-to-use form of Web publishing, allowing the "blogger" to present text, graphics, embed media, link to other blogs and resources, and to engage in online discussions with readers/viewers through comments left by visitors to a blog post. Wikipedia provides a more detailed description of this phenomenon at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog.
On campus, blogging has quickly emerged to support teaching and learning. One well-known example is the blog to support our campus-wide One Book program, which provided members of the UT Arlington community digital resources and recordings of program activities and presentations.
Blogs have also emerged for numerous campus classes, programs, and activities. One of UT Arlington´s best-know bloggers is Jeannine Hirtle (Education), who utilizes Weblogs in all of her on-campus and on-line classes, as well as to support electronic communities such as that for the Bluebonnet Writing Project (National Writing Project).
Another faculty blogger on campus is Chris Conway (Modern Languages), who utilizes his Weblogs for both teaching and research. Available at http://drconway.wordpress.com, his blog also embeds numerous examples of new media as well as live, Webbased chat via Meebo.
His recent post entitled "´Only Connect´?: Top 10 Reasons College Professors Should Blog? (http://drconway.wordpress. com/2007/05/12/only-connect-top-10-reasons-college-professors-should-blog/ provides a wonderful overview of the potential of blogging in academia.)
And there is good news on the blogging horizon. Starting this August, the Office of Information Technology, in cooperation with the Center for Distance Education, will make available a campus enterprise blogging solution, allowing faculty and staff to create and use Weblogs for academic purposes with the protections of NetID security, system back-up, and quality of service. Stay tuned for more details as the fall semester approaches!