Academia is supposed to do three good things: teaching, research, and service. So, can blogging enhance or improve them? I think it can.
First, blogging can make teaching better:
- blogging often involves recording, curating, organizing, and refining ideas or information which can then be used in lectures or seminars;
- blogs often brings in ideas from broader sources than the standard textbooks of the field, such breadth can enhance teaching.
Second, blogging can improve research:
- blogging can record, organize, and refine ideas which can be later used in research;
- blog posts can test and try hunches and guesses;
- academic blogs can allow interested and knowledgeable non-academics to provide feedback and ideas;
- blogging can build-up links and networks among those with common interests, especially if those researchers would otherwise be dispersed by distance, divided into different disciplines, or isolated in an unusual niche or approach.
Third, blogging can enhance service:
- academic blogs can give the public a sense of what is going on in academia;
- blogging can publicize the discipline, the department, the faculty, and university;
- blogs can make research more accessible to a general audience;
- blogging can enable academics to convey scholarship to journalists, non-academic bloggers, and others in the arena of public opinion.
That’s why I think blogging is good for both academia and the public at large.
There are downsides too, but that is a subject for another occasion.