Educational Blogging:
A Forum for Developing Disciplinary and Professional Identity

Geoffrey C. Middlebrook
University of Southern California

Webtext design by John M. Bonham
University of Southern California


It is obvious that the blogosphere is a flourishing cyber-realm. Indeed, as of June 2008 the search engine Technorati was indexing more than one hundred and twelve million blogs internationally, a number that has assuredly risen much since. While the emphases of these many blogs not surprisingly differ, data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project (Lenhart & Fox, 2006) reveal that the most popular blogging topic, at least here in the United States, is one's own life and experiences. A self-referential use of weblogs certainly has merit; however, for those of us who are charged with guiding university students deeply into their fields and toward their careers, I am not convinced that an expressivist ambit, with the blog as personal journal, is where we ought to invest our pedagogical energies. My aim in this webtext is therefore to discuss an alternative use of the blogging platform as I pose two questions: What roles can blogs play in an advanced writing course, and more specifically, how can they be employed as a venue for developing students' disciplinary and professional identity? These queries in turn trigger another pair of questions: What is the nature of community in the blogosphere, and how does it inform a cost-benefit analysis of blogging as a professionalizing experience for undergraduates? The New Media Consortium's Horizon Report (2008) declares that the "academy is faced with a need to provide formal instruction in […] how to create meaningful content with today's tools" (p. 6), and in my responses to the questions above I hope to illustrate ways in which such instruction can take place with blogs.