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The Role of Academic Blogging

November 2, 2011 7 comments

My colleague Mark Guzdial has a popular blog on computing education.  I commented to him last week that I was impressed with how often he’s able to come up with thoughtful posts. He posts several per week, and they’re all great.  He laughed and said “well, I usually just find an article I like and write a few lines before a quote from it. It’s not much really.”  Some of his posts are long, thoughtful essays, but a lot are as he describes–a pointer to something new that just came out with some framing comments.

I smiled and nodded and shook my head–I could never post that often on Next Bison. But it took me a few days to realize why. If you want a pointer to what’s going on in social media, you can read TechCrunch or Mashable or many others. There are a host of folks who make a living blogging about social media.  Y’all don’t need me.  Well, you might need me once in a while for a longer commentary on something thorny. But you don’t need me to do the more news-like, regular updates. Other folks have that covered.

Computer science education is  more important to our society than social media.  I have three half sisters, and they have degrees in anthropology, theater, and international studies. And as of last week they are all working on web design, development, and marketing.  Why aren’t we educating people for the jobs that are actually available?  Why aren’t there more computer science teachers? CS isn’t even offered at most schools.  Raise your hand if you have a friend  with a humanities degree who is now working in web design or management of information systems.  We all do.  Our education system is broken. Every kid should learn to program at age 12 at the latest, and have a full offering of different kinds of CS classes through high school.  CS education is important. There should be a Mashable for CS Ed, but there isn’t.

This brings me back to the role of academic blogging. Academic bloggers like Mark play a really important role.  Whether they’re writing insightful essays or just short posts drawing attention to what’s happening in their field. Going forwards,  I believe blogging is a central part of what academics have to offer the world.  It’s about taking all our hard-earned knowledge and sharing it with broader circles than journal readers and conference attendees.  What could be more important than that?

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