Campus Blogging Since 2003

In his Inside Higher Ed blog, Joshua Kim writes:

A transformative step that learning technologists can participate in
proposing, pushing, guiding, leading, managing and maintaining would be
providing a campus-wide blogging platform and institutional aggregation
site. Here are some guidelines for what this could look like…

Here is the text of a comment I posted:

There is, of course, a value in creating a private online space for a
specific class, but if we put our best stuff behind the Blackboard
firewall, or if the content disappears into the Facebook or Twitter
data sink, then we’re missing the chance to use the web as a public
resource.  Thanks for posting these guidelines. I like your thinking,
Joshua, and I hope
that more faculty and administraors will see the value of social

In the fall of 2003, as a new hire at Seton Hill University (a small
liberal arts college near Pittsburgh), I used MovableType to set up, offering free, no-advertising blogs to students,
faculty, and

The default template I provide is subtly branded, with a modest logo
and link, but students can (and often do) choose a different design. 
The fact that the blogs live under the domain gives the
student writers clout, and the frequency of posts and the pattern of
cross-linking is interpreted favorably by Google (our aggregator has a
respectable Google PageRank of 5.10).

We paid a one-time fee (about $300, I think) for a site license that permits 300
active blogs.  Each year, I’ve opted for an annual tech support package that has saved
me hours of troubleshooting time, at a price that’s about what we pay
the web host.

Since went online, nearly 600 users have created
about 25,000 posts, attracting about 40,000 non-spam comments.
I have often wished for the time to do the coding necessary to rank
blogs by recent activity (in the last 24 hours, in the last week, in
the last month, in the last year, and “all time”), but for now a list
of recently updated blogs keeps the most active blogs visible.

Usually every semester, students get comments from the author of a
textbook or academic article we’ve used in class.  Students posting
their homework on The Scarlet Letter or the Associated Press Stylebook
likely to get some random search engine traffic.

A former admissions director blogged faithfully for some months before
leaving for a different job, and the library, the student paper, our
National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education, some students
involved in our Study Abroad program, all of my journalism and
literature students blog on the system, and about a dozen other classes
taught by other faculty members have experimented with blogging. 
Several faculty members have
experimented with using a blog as an official professional presence,
and one colleague got a book deal out of a collection of essays he
posted to
his blog while on a trip abroad. 

I don’t censor what the students write.  Of the 25,000 blog entries on
the site, I’d say that only three crossed the line into destructive
irresponsibility and offensiveness, and the authors of those posts
withdrew almost immediately after posting them. (Those posts are still
online, but you’d have to know what to search for in order to find

2 thoughts on “Campus Blogging Since 2003

  1. I read Kim’s post before you commented. You should check back, though–he’s responded to you.
    I love that I fit the profile of the “students continue to blog once they leave our campus”. :-)
    You probably don’t get thanked for this frequently, but thanks for doing what you to do make a worthwhile place to write and read!

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