Monday, July 20, 2009

Why blog?

There are many reasons why blogging is a major component of ES2007S, Professional Communication: Principles and Practice, the course I teach at the National University of Singapore. Key course objectives include facilitating discussions of communication principles, encouraging students to practice various communication strategies, and promoting opportunities for them to develop their written communication skills. In that context, the logic of blogging falls neatly into place.

One reason for using blogging is that each student's blog becomes her platform for summarizing, analyzing and synthesizing ideas, presenting opinions and even story-telling on a number of communication topics. Because responding to any given post assignment can be done independently, where and when the student chooses, she also has time to mull over the topic and address it without the sort of pressures that might exist in class. At the same time, because the post will, in turn, be read and responded to by classmates and by me, the student writer needs to be aware of the demands of her authentic audience. When she reads that audience's comments, she needs to take their perspectives into consideration, at which point she can either respond to those accordingly in follow up comments or ignore them (perhaps at her own peril).

Another reason blogging makes sense for the course is that it's a chance for the student to consider and reconsider her means of written expression. Communication, especially of the professional sort, is not just about assembling information, thinking ideas through and developing opinions. It's as much or more so about expressing the information, ideas and opinions in a manner that demonstrates clarity, concreteness, conciseness and yet completeness, coherence, courtesy and grammatical correctness. (I'd add to these well known 7Cs of writing what I call the "mother" of them all: creativity). In the various course blog posts, the student can and usually will take these criteria into consideration. Not doing so might bring on the critical wrath of the teacher and/or any number of highly competitive classmates.

A final reason that blogging suits the course is that it is an Internet-based exercise, and in that way, a very current means of understanding, shaping and reshaping one's thoughts on a whole range of issues for anyone in cyberspace, while at the same time, archiving the process and product. The growing blog eventually evolves into an open-to-the-world interactive journal, a place where one's reflective character comes to be illustrated with words, audio and video clips, still photography and cartoons, website referrals AND feedback.

Appropriately, at the end of any blog post, week, month, term or year, the writer can sit back and take stock of the whole concoction, glowing perhaps with self satisfaction, or alternatively, flushing the whole thing or any part of it into the cyber-septic tank with a quick click.

My list of reasons for using blogging is not exhaustive. To learn why a professional coach sees blogging as important, check out this link.


Guo Cheng said...

It looks like the new semester is coming soon. You have to illustrate all these benefits again, don't you?

Having gone through your course made me a active blogger, too.

Danny Wong said...

Hey Brad,

Thanks for posting a blog about blogging. =)

For me personally, blogging is an entirely brand new experience for me. I have never blogged prior to ES2007S. In fact, I never really liked to express my ideas and feelings through writing, whether its on paper or cyberspace.

However, after going through the first part of the course on the 7Cs of writing, I learned to appreciate the art of writing and how the construction of sentences and the choice of words is important in expressing our thoughts and ideas, in a clear and concise manner.

I remembered taking almost 3 hours to compose my first blog even though the length of the post is just 100 words. I struggled because I thought that writing was not my forte and it is something I do not like doing. However, after learning the 7Cs of writing and other techniques in writing, I began to love writing, expressing my ideas in a clear and concise manner.

Besides gaining some love on writing, the assignment of blogging buddy (Sharon) in ES2007S enabled me to amend any grammar or sentence structure mistakes before posting it on my blog. The blogging buddy will always be able to pin point any mistakes that I had overlooked during writing.

Another component of blogging that I admire is the feedback/comments section. In this section, I am able to get feedbacks from my group regarding my blog post. I have gained so much new perspectives and knowledge by reading and analysing their comments. I have not only widen my perspective on a certain topic, but I have also learned to accept constructive criticisms to improve on my writing.

Last but not least, I would like to thank Brad for introducing the blogging exercise as part of the assessments in ES2007S. If the blogging exercise is not part of the assessments, I believe most of us would not have taken it seriously or would not have learned another art of writing, on the web.

If you are interested to visit my blog which I have created for ES2007S, please visit

Thanks for reading and I wish everyone in ES2007S all the best. You guys are in the hands of a very dedicated and fun-loving mentor. Make full use of him to accelerate your learning curve in writing and communications.


Sharon said...

Why blogging is useful for ES2007S:
1. "open-world interactive journal" vs personal private journal: learn to write in a way so that most people will understand (and not only yourself).
2. Take ownership, responsibility and pride in your own work: you control your posts and comments, whereas in a wiki others can change your work.
3. Blog posts tend to be more substantial (i.e. longer) as compared to forum posts: there may be more "pressure" to write well?

Possible limitations of blogging in ES2007S?
1. Does not really facilitate group work (e.g. discussions): tends to encourage individualism instead?
2. Keeping track of blogs, posts and comments...
3. What happens to the blogs after the semester is over? ... (oops!)

Annie Ang said...

When I received Brad's email to comment on his post about blogging, my first thought was of the difficulty I faced writing meaningful comments in ES2007s. I always thought I was opinioniated, but faced with the prospect of writing a comment that is relevant to the topic and differs within my blogging group stumped me.

Indeed, creativity is the most important C. Having many different experiences in your life helps too. Worse come to worse, reading widely also helps but I also believe personal experiences are the best.

Unfortunately, I have stopped actively blogging since ES2007s. Always was more of a reader than a writer. Will continue keeping tabs on your blog, Brad. GOOD LUCK to all the new ES2007s students!

Regina said...

"One reason for using blogging is that each student's blog becomes her platform for summarizing, analyzing and synthesizing ideas, presenting opinions and even story-telling on a number of communication topics."

hear hear!

your blog is my reference for punctuation by the way;)

roarhaha said...

Hey Brad,

Indeed, one has to be aware of so many things while blogging (having a blogging buddy really helps here). This awareness brings writing to a whole new level.

And the part where I can "sit back and take stock" of my past semester's effort? Yea, the satisfaction really kicks in.

Here's to the new semester.


Duane said...

Hi Brad,

In my view, the final reason you gave for blogging is very reflective of the blogging culture. It is indeed a way where one is able to shape and understand one's thoughts. However, at the same time, it is also a means for us to formulate the thoughts of those who read our blogs. As different technologies emerge, we are better equipped with different tools to not only formulate our own thoughts, but also influence those of others. Isn't that an aim of communicating as well? Hopefully, ES2007S will continue adopting new communicating strategies into its curriculum. Twittering, perhaps?


Benjamin Ng said...

Gosh I can’t even begin how stupid I used to think blogging was, until ES2007s that is. I’m sure quite a few eyebrows were raised when my classmates and I found out that blogging was part of the curriculum. Now, I no longer think blogging is only for attention whores who have nothing better to do than to share their ‘private’ lives with the world.

Blogging is an exceptional way to take learning out of the classroom. Through blogging, I found out so much more about my classmates through their blog layouts and writing styles. Being able to read and (especially) comment on each others’ posts allowed for a completely different kind of interaction not found in the classroom. Blogging also allows you to express your feelings for your classmates that you’d normally otherwise be too shy about sharing in a face-to-face situation too.

If you’ve never blogged before, this is a great way to get your inhibitions out of the way and get started!

liews_ryan said...

Hello BB sensei and all,

First of all, i would like to introduce myself. My name is Ryan. I'm a newbie to ES2007S as well as blogging and i would like to thank you for your great comments and wishes!

Previously, i was not that convince that blogging is effective based on the only explanations given during the first lesson--it was just pure explanations without any solid feedback from student. Just like Benjamin Ng stated on top, my impression for blogging was like:"Huh blogging? You must be kidding me. It is only for those are so "bo liao" (bored in Hockkien) that would like to do, right?" After finished reading BB sensei's explanations here as well as all the comments from the seniors here, i've started to change my mind and convince that blogging is really helpful for a more effective communication!

Last but not least too, best wish to those have already been through ES2007S and i hope the experiences you gained will be beneficial in your future.

Best regards,

Chee Siang said...

I have been maintaining my personal blog for years and there is no form of proper language in them. This blogging exercise will allow me to get in touch with the "forgotten" written language.

Unlike in a classroom context, i feel that blogging allows the students to express their view freely. In a way, we will be forced to "talk" and the length will not be an issue as there is no time limit. The reaction of other students will only come later in the form of comments and hence our thoughts will not be influenced by external factors at the moment of writing.

Catherine said...

Good evening and hello all.

I agree that blogging is a good platform for communication in this Internet-age since even a simple word-search on Google or any other search engines could lead to someone's blog (unless the blogger had protected his/her blog from search-engines).

Like Chee Siang, I have a personal blog which is a few years old but was surprised when we were told that as students of ES2007S, we not only had to create a blog as part of the course but there were certain "rules" to follow while blogging. Those "rules" I am referring to are the 7Cs.

I don't think I have used the 7Cs in my personal blog often but it seems that I do not have a choice now. I hope that this would be the start of a good habit, whether it is blogging or typing an email, that I would be able to apply the 7Cs through any communication channels.


Zheng, Rui said...

Hi Brad,

Before attending the class of ES2007S, I never used a blog before, as I am not a person that likes to express my feelings through Cyberspace. I still prefer the traditional way to write diaries on the paper, or just talk to my friends face to face. However, just as you mentioned above, through blogging, we can exchange our ideas with the classmates more easily. And, since other people will read what we write, we will pay more attention to our organizations, grammas, and so on, which are quite good for improving our writing skills. I hope that throughout the semester, I can find more good things about blogging.

Rachel, Zheng

elin said...

Thank you Brad! I never come across so many benefits about blogging before reading your blog. Different from Danny Wong, I used to be a believer of Chinese language and enjoy its beauty and power through writing and, blogging. However, due to the most common excuse - busyness (sometimes to be translated as laziness), I have stopped blogging for almost a year.

Being a ES2007S student, I am looking forward for communicating with my course mates casually yet effectively through blogging during and after the semester!