Why I blog

Sheila MacNeill explains how blogging has become part of her professional portfolio.

Picture of hand on keyboard

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I’m really delighted that Shirley has asked me to be an occasional contributor to this new school blog. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m part of the Blended Learning team within GCU LEAD. You can find out more about me here and here.  In this post I’m going to share some of my motivations for blogging.

I have been blogging for about 7 or maybe even 8 years now.  So why do I do it? Well to begin with, I didn’t have any choice I was told that I had to.  That was quite scary.  I was working for one of the Jisc Innovation Support Centres, Cetis, and it was decided that our new web home page would be populated by individual blog posts. That way we would have constantly updated content.  It took a while for me to find and be comfortable with “my blogging voice”.  However after quite a short time,  I found that blogging provided me a perfect channel to connect and share what I was working on, where I had been (conferences, meetings) and generally help raise the profile of my work.  In 2013 I won the ALT Learning Technologist of the Year award, and this was largely down to the contribution I had made to the sector via my blog.

On of the first things I did when I left Cetis was set up my own blog.  Having found my blogging voice I didn’t want to lose it.  I  also wanted to keep the habit of blogging at least once a week.  People often ask me how I find the time to blog. The answer is simple, I make time.  Some weeks it might be half an hour, others an hour, others a day, other 10 minutes.  But finding time to consolidate my thoughts on “stuff” is now part and parcel of my working life. I keep doing it because it is really useful.  I don’t get huge traffic on my blog and that’s not my main driver. I write for me, if other people want to read it then that’s great.  I still get a buzz when I get comments on my blog, having that engagement with an extended peer network is really useful.

My blog is in many ways my professional portfolio and memory. If something is important I blog about it. Having that record of “stuff” has proved useful time and time again. I have just completed the AcceleRATE portfolio route for HEA accreditation, my blog was an invaluable, easy to find and reference source of evidence.

Here is a quick list of some of the main reasons I blog.

  • It gets and keeps you in the writing habit.
  • It’s a great middle ground between ideas and more formal academic publishing.
  • It is a good place to share ideas and connect.
  • It helps build your reputation within your peer group.
  • It can become your professional memory.
  • It can lead to unexpected opportunities.

I’m really looking forward to seeing this blog flourish and grow with the range of voices from within the school and be part of a growing blogging community, including the Blended Learning Team blog, within GCU.

Sheila MacNeill is a Senior Lecturer in Blended Learning at Glasgow Caledonian University, based in the Centre for Learning Enhancement and Academic Development (GCU LEAD).  Sheila is particularly interested in the development of open educational practice, digital literacies and exploring the potential of learning analytics in relation to learning design.