To blog or not to blog

As I’m sitting here, trying to figure out what I can possibly blog about this week, I’ve ticked off in my head the usual blog topics; fieldwork update, archival research update, CAP outreach rundown, etc…and I have nothing new to report on. Well this lack of information to disseminate got me thinking, why do we blog in the first place? I realize this is not a new and novel question, but I figured if I considered why we blog, then maybe I would have a flash of genius and come up with a blog topic. The more I looked into it, the more I wanted the “why” to actually be the topic.

Blogging has become ever more popular in the educational setting because of the increased interaction it encourages. Clark and Mayer(2003) describe two instructional tools that can be applied to educational blogging: directive and guided discovery techniques. a directive technique emphasizes a feedback loop between the students and instructor, while a guided discovery techniques are tools used to guide students to solutions in real-life challenges. Both of these techniques apply to the way CAP uses their blog, even though we are not in a traditional classroom setting.

Educational blogs have been referred to as a “transformative technology” because of their ability to “provide students with a high level of autonomy while simultaneously providing opportunity for greater interaction with peers” (Williams and Jacobs 2004:web resource). Blogs create an environment for students which encourages honest and heartfelt opinions without requiring hard and fast data. This allows students to gain confidence in their own opinions, while promoting critical analysis skills and creativity.

Blogging has also found its way into the realm of archaeology. It has become commonplace for archaeologists to create field journals that describe the day-to-day happenings of the field season. William Caraher, who has a blog for his excavation in Cyprus, explains that blogs are a “dynamic medium for the disseminating of archaeological knowledge” (Caraher 2008). Blogs allow the user to connect to a larger audience and interact with new communities of followers. The general public can be awe inspired to learn about archaeology while fellow colleagues can offer insight. Blogs have the power to bridge the gap between the knowledge of the hungry general public and the overly anxious archaeologist (Caraher 2008). Blogs create a transparency for excavations which encourages public trust (Caraher 2008). Additionally, this transparency provides a grounding for the general public to understand what real archaeology is, rather than what is portrayed on the silver screen.

Our goal for the CAP blog is exactly along these lines. We want to keep the public, and the University at large, informed of the history of MSU, through our archeology and blogging. Our research projects and public outreach revolve around the archeology of MSU’s campus, and we strive to disseminate our findings, while encouraging a strong sense of stewardship. We hope, that the more you know about the history of MSU, the more you’ll want it protected.

References:

Caraher, W. 2008. Blogging Archaeology and the Archeology of Blogging. Archaeology Magazine Online http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/blogs/index.html

Clark, R.C. and R.E. Mayer 2003 e-Learning and the science of instruction: proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Williams, J. and J. Jacobs 2004. Exploring the use of Blogs as Learning Spaces in the Higher Education Sector. Australasian Journal of Education Technology 20(2), 232-247.

*Excerpts for this blog were taken from Frederick, K. 2012. Blogging Archaeology: Experiences from the Morton Village Field School. Paper presented at Midwest Archaeological Conference 2012, East Lansing, MI



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