This post was getting a little unwieldy, so I’m breaking it into (at least) two parts. Here’s part one.
Way back in July, fellow higher ed blogger Kyle James posted his thoughts about blogging after six months of it. In that post, he also called out “a few of my favorite higher ed bloggers” (flattery seldom fails with bloggers) to post something about “how blogging has Impacted their work.”
I was one of the bloggers Kyle called out, but in my typical sloth, and unlike folks like Karlyn Morissette, I failed to respond immediately. (Kyle started a mini-meme, though, as Paul Redfern also wrote a six-month post when his turn came about in October.
Now, it’s my turn. But it’s too late for a six-month post. I’ve been blogging here for more than three years now (my first post here was a Nov. 10, 2005, blip about the rising cost of education). There weren’t many higher ed bloggers in those days: just me, Karine Joly, Robert French (of course) and a few others, all loosely connected by the common ground of the Internet and our common interests. This was long before Brad Ward and Matt Herzberger launched BlogHighEd.org as a means of joinnig the small pieces of higher ed bloggers together.
These were the early days, the pioneering days. The dark ages of higher ed blogging. (Never mind that blogging was moving forward rapidly in just about every other sector, from media to IT. Higher ed, as usual, was bringing up the tail end.)
Anyway, it’s sort of this blog’s three-year anniversary, so I figure it’s a good time to reconsider Kyle’s question. Plus, it’s also a chance to plug Missouri S&T and our communications staff for the great blogging work we (well, mostly they) do.
How has blogging impacted my work?
Simply put, blogging has become an important focal point of our communications strategy with alumni, media, prospective students, the general public, and our faculty and staff. We use blogging as a platform for our news site, for special promotional campaigns, and for our internal newsletter. We used it to encourage dialogue and debate during the process of changing our name from the University of Missouri-Rolla to Missouri University of Science and Technology.
Here is a brief history of blogging at Missouri S&T:
February 2006 – We launched our first blog, Visions. Calling it “a see-through look” at our university’s research activities, the genesis for this blog was simple enough. We had been doing a quarterly “webzine” by the same name, but we found that when we sent out the email announcing the latest issue on our website (the target audience was research funding agencies and alumni), we discovered that people didn’t really know who we were. So we decided to flip the funnel and create a blog, letting only those who cared about the research subscribe and read.
June 2006 – We moved our sports website into a blog format.
January 2007 – We launched Name Change Conversations as a tool to involve alumni, students, faculty and staff in the discussion of our proposed name change. To date, this is the site that has stirred up the most conversation. But controversial topics will do that for you. That’s why blogs about politics and sports get so many comments.
April 2007 – Building on the success of Visions, we launched Experience This! to promote our various student design teams and publicize their competitions. We’ve since turned this blog over to our student design center, which employs a talented photographer-turned-blogger who has fully embraced the technology.
June 2007 – We converted our internal email-only newsletter, the eConnection, into a blog with email feed to all subscribers. While this switched faced some resistance initially (when we directed people to go to the blog) we’ve since struck a happy medium by feeding the links into a twice-weekly html email that our faculty and staff can skim and click.
2008 – The year of the blog at S&T. We created three specific PR/marketing campaigns that had blogs as a focal point. They were:
- The Best Ever Blog to promote the 100th anniversary of our campus’ famous St. Pat’s Celebration.
- The Solar Miner VI Blog to promote our campus’ entry in the North American Solar Challenge last summer.
- Most recently, we launched spacebook, a blog by and about S&T graduate and NASA astronaut Sandra Magnus, who is flying high above the earth in the Space Shuttle Endeavour on her way to the International Space Station. While on the space station, she’ll be blogging from space. Right now, as she’s en route, we’re posting her answers to questions from kids who attended Aerospace Camp on our campus last summer.
Also this year, we moved our news site into Movable Type, a blogging software, to make it 1.) easier on our staff to post news and 2.) easier for readers to comment and share news. We also feed our news and blogs through our Twitter account, which in turn feeds those posts to our official Missouri S&T Facebook page.
Coming next: Part 2, with a more personal observation about blogging and its impact on work and life.