Why Do We Need A Bloggers’ Strand at ResearchED 2013?

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Moves are afoot to establish a ResearchED Conference:

‘for teachers and researchers who are interested in evidence-based education’

to take place for the first time in September 2013.

I suggested that bloggers might be involved:

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and was invited by the organiser to put the case

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This very brief post does just that.

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Social media are becoming increasingly significant in the generation and dissemination of education research. Microblogging (Twitter) can be used to share research and discuss its findings, but the character limit does not support deeper engagement.

Most in-depth interaction with research is undertaken on specialist blogs. The UK education blogging community is growing and becoming increasingly influential but, as far as I’m aware, has never been drawn together, whether for discussion between themselves or for interaction with teachers and researchers.

Some bloggers are teachers, some are researchers, but many are neither teachers nor researchers. Teachers may distrust bloggers who are not current classroom practitioners; researchers in particular may distrust bloggers because they are not subject to the rigours of research practice (including peer review). Bridges need to be built between these groups.

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Venn

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Most serious education bloggers are engaged in a process of analysis, synthesis and mediation. They convey knowledge and understanding of educational issues to a community of readers, adding significant value in the process. Some blogging deserves to be recognised as a serious contribution to educational research in its own right. It is much more than mere journalism.

This community of readers will include teachers (or other educators) and researchers, but also learners, parents/carers, advocates and policy makers. Bloggers create important connections between these subgroups.

Bloggers have very different specialisms and perspectives but those operating outside the HE education research community (including teachers) face a set of common issues, including:

  • Establishing blog posts (and other social media) as a ‘respectable’ frame for educational discourse (as opposed to a journalistic vehicle for advertising more serious research papers published in academic journals).
  • Gaining a foothold in an environment dominated by the HE research community, which operates a whole range of restrictive practices.
  • Gaining access to education research (without climbing a steep paywall or belonging to a university library) and being able to share that research with their readers.

A discussion of education research issues would be greatly enriched by the inclusion of a cross-section of the UK edublogging community and might also provide the impetus for a new national network.

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If an invitation is not forthcoming, perhaps other bloggers might join me in establishing the network anyway.

What are the potential benefits of an edubloggers’ network? Here are some ‘starters for ten’.

It might:

  • Enable experienced bloggers to support comparative novices, including student bloggers – and encourage new bloggers to add their voices to the network.
  • Enable bloggers from different parts of the spectrum to collaborate on joint projects, bringing their very different expertise and experience to bear on some of our more intractable educational problems and issues.
  • Provide a basis for bloggers to push collectively for greater respect for – and recognition of – what they do, so that blog posts are more often cited in mainstream educational research and bloggers have more opportunities to present their work at conferences and similar educational events.
  • Give bloggers a platform from which to advocate for issues of concern to them, to provide each other with professional and technical advice and support, and to build connections with educational bloggers in other countries so achieving a global reach and reputation.
  • Allow them to support the further and faster development of blogging as an educational tool and to help cement its place as an integral element in social media’s potentially enormous contribution to education, advocacy, policy-making, research and professional development.

Is that worth doing fellow bloggers? Is that worth sponsoring anyone?

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GP

March 2013

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