This week I am celebrating my first year of having a blog, and what a ride it has been. I know that blogging isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it has been a revelation for me.
Through this blog I have met and become friends with people who I would never normally meet because of geographical and professional differences. I have developed the ability to use multi-media tools such as video, and I think I have improved my writing skills.
From an academic point of view, my experience with this blog has led to papers being accepted for publication, a book chapter and a number of conference presentations, which I don't think is too bad for only a year's work. I have progressed my thinking about e-mentoring and led a series of blogging workshops. And to cap it all, I have managed to get my CEO to start up a blog, as well as my husband and daughter.
Image: 'Me & Somayeh - Inside the Road' Fort Photo
This blog has become an invaluable tool for reflection. I have tried to journal in the past but it has never lasted. I feel differently about the blog because my reflections are open for peer review. I often get taken in directions I would never get to by the comments left by readers. That further enhances my own learning. The support and critique from readers has encouraged me to be open and honest which in turn has built my own confidence, particularly in relation to my role as a teacher.
Sharing knowledge and collaboration
I have been able to pass on my personal learning that has been meaningful and helpful to others, which in turn has led to a number of collaborative projects in the pipeline.
Yet at the same time, I have also been challenged about the way I use this blog for feedback and reflection. It has been suggested that I neglect 'real' life sources of help and support. This leaves me with an important issue to ponder in the next stage of my blogging life - am I too quick to go to my online network for support and information? Am I neglecting the 'real' world, to my detriment? What do you think about this?
Where to from here
Probably one of the most important things this blog has helped me do is reflect on my place in midwifery. After nearly 25 years as a midwife and 10 years as an educator, I have reached the stage of life where I am wondering what to do next. I am highly unlikely to go back to full time clinical practice mostly because I don't think my back will hold up to it. Yet at the same time, I am ready for a new challenge in my career.
I think my new challenge is looking at how networked learning through processes such as blogging can be incorporated into formal and informal midwifery education. The beauty of networked learning is that its ubiquitous nature allows me to keep one foot in midwifery, and at the same time connect with other professionals even outside of health - in other words, it offers me opportunities to develop my skills in areas that would otherwise be closed to me. And that has come about mostly by my work and reflections in this blog.
Image: 'Colorful_ness' ishrona
A big 'thank you' to all the readers of this blog
I cannot thank you all enough for reading this blog, for leaving comments, entering discussions and giving me your support. It's your encouragement that has got me to where I am in this blog. I know my blog is a real mish mash of topics, so I thank you for sticking with me, even if some of the posts are not that interesting or relevant to you.
I'd also like to thank Leigh Blackall, Sue Waters and Michele Martin who have been my blogging mentors.
Secret to successful blogging
To those of you who would like to know what makes a successful blog, I would echo the words of Sue Waters, who had her first blogging birthday a couple of months ago:
persistence, patience and commitment
I would also echo Sue's advice to newbie bloggers, to work through the 31 Day Blog Challenge and 31 day Comment Challenge - the activities in these challenges will really hone your blogging skills. My progress through the two challenges can be found in my ePortfolio.
Once again, thank you all for taking the time to drop by. Don't ever be afraid to leave a comment, even if it's to tell me that I write a load of old rubbish. I really value the comments and discussions that all contribute to my learning, and hopefully yours.