On why I write and why I’m not writing a book . . . yet

Photo of old books
(image: Timeless books, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Timeless_Books.jpg, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.)

Reflecting on my twitter stream recently, it seems like everyone is writing a book, or to be more accurate has just (self) published a book. Well maybe not quite everyone, but three of my favourite ed-tech peeps (Audrey Watters, David Kernohan and Martin Weller) have all recently done that book thang. Download/buy these books – they all deserve to be read.

I’m actually on the periphery of the self publishing activity. I have just co-authored a chapter with David Walker for a book David Hopkins is editing and self publishing (plug #EdTechBook) which is due out in early January. Writing a book “all by myself” isn’t something that I’m thinking of doing anytime soon. That said there is something very appealing to me trying collate some of my blog posts into a more coherent body of work. Audrey, David and Martin have all used their blogs (to a greater and lesser extent – Audrey’s book is based on her presentations over the past year, but they are all published on her blog) as the basis for their books. In his reflection of why he wrote a book Martin says “I don’t know how any academic writer functions without a blog”.

I don’t claim to be an academic writer, I don’t write a lot of proper “academic stuff”. However I do persist with my blogging which at times has a whiff of academese in it. I blog now because it I enjoy the writing process. More importantly it gives me an outlet to record and reflect on what I’m doing and/or what is happening within my community. I still get a buzz when I get comments on something I’ve written, but it is more a personal record or perhaps more accurately my professional memory. If something is important to me I am now in the habit of blogging about it, even if it is a sentence or two in my semi regular “what sheila’s seen this week’ posts. George Couros has recently written an excellent post, 5 reasons your portfolio should be a blog, where he argues that a portfolio should be more than a “digital dump”, it should be about connecting, finding your voice. I whole heartedly agree.

I’m in the process of compiling my application for fellowship of the HEA. Here at GCU we have a portfolio based route for more experienced staff. I can’t begin to explain just how useful my blogging has been in this process. It has acted not only as a memory jolt, but also as evidence and structure for my submission. I am toying with trying to collate the posts I wrote when I was at the height of my MOOC madness into perhaps a booklet, not sure about a book, but “my little MOOC-y book-y” is a tempting title. . .

The HEA are now looking “good standing” measures for Fellows. How better to show engagement and good standing within your discipline/community than through a blog? It can link to presentations, papers, drafts, anything – just like a portfolio. To go back to Martin’s quote I actually don’t know in this day and age how any academic functions without a blog.

6 comments

  1. Hear, hear! I didn’t mean to suggest that blogging was only useful if you were planning to write a book, just that is one of the ways it has been useful for me. You are quite right, anyone in an academic function should have recourse to a record, a place to synthesise and reflect. Given that much of other social media has become a bit unsavoury often, I still really feel at home in my blog, like a nice old pair of slippers. Yours is of course, a sparkly set of slippers. Thanks for the post

  2. I think “My Mooc-y Book-y” would be superb! (especially as your next book would then need to be called “revolution” and have @hallymk1-style numbered paragraphs 🙂 )

  3. Well, I’ve got to say it’s not about whether you want to write a book or not, it’s about whether you feel you’ve something to write about. Blog posts are good, but sometimes you might want to expand on it, write more or collate the thoughts in your blog into a more coherent, flowing, ‘entity’.

    You never know when your experience and expertise might come through, and a book might be worth it (fiction or non-fiction).

    🙂

    David

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