Why Bother with Blogs? Learning from U of K Students

By Cindy Vallance (Twitter @cdvallance)

Before I went on leave a couple of weeks ago, I promised to come back to the topic of trust. I will do so – because I believe that trust is a key foundational element to consider when accomplishing anything important that involves two or more people.

But today I want to share my thinking about blogs. A blog about blogs? Let me explain.

As part of the Social Sciences Change Academy initiative we agreed we wanted to find ways to communicate and build a dialogue with academic staff, professional services staff and students that went beyond emails, meetings, and standard website updates. My own decision to begin blogging and using twitter as part of Change Academy was informed in large part by the example set by Colum McGuire, Kent Union Vice President (Welfare). Colum wrote a great blog series about student housing last year that received an amazing amount of ‘hits.’ You can find Column’s blogs here: http://colummcguire.wordpress.com/

His blogs kept me engaged and reading, even though I wasn’t looking for a new place to live! They were lively and practical, short and sharp.

Moving along, we have even more excellent student initiated blog posts. Tom Ritchie, Kent Union President, has shared his thoughts about the value of Change Academy here:

http://tomritchie1.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/change-academy/

And my learning about blog writing hasn’t stopped there.

Another of our Change Academy members, Léo Wilkinson, Kent Union’s Social Sciences Student Representative, posted his first Change Academy blog on 12 May 2012.

Léo’s blog is a thought piece and call to action to continue to increase meaningful student involvement in decision-making.

Also on 12 May, and completely unrelated to Change Academy, is the blog I came across on twitter by Kenny Budd, Kent Union’s Vice President (Activities) about their Kent Union team development event at Medway:

http://buddblogging.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/meeting-new-team.html

Once again, a phenomenal blog – informal yet professional, personal yet factual, with great images and important messages including his remark:  “When asked if I thought the fact that we will be an all white, male sabbatical team was an issue (on the grounds of representing our diverse membership) my answer was “that it is always going to be an issue but it will only become a problem if we let it.”

So how do we look at the challenges of continuously improving communications between our diverse constituencies here at U of Kent? Is it an issue we can work on solving together or a problem? We all have our own reasons for being here but as a community Kent belongs to all of us. What can we learn from each other?

I learn every day, from students and colleagues, from reading, talking, observing, and thinking. I don’t always agree with those I interact with but I appreciate gaining insights from divergent views. In fact, a wise person once said to me “If two people always agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.”

We are all necessary, we all have valuable contributions to make to our Kent  community. As a first step, bookmark some student blogs, make comments on what you read, follow students on twitter, and see what you can learn.

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