Taking part in an academic blog was something which was unfamiliar to me, however, it has been a very rewarding experience. Knowing that the work I am posting is visible to the entire world is something which excites me and encourages me to ensure that the work which I produce is to the best of my ability. Also, reading other bloggers work, not just from my cohort but from all over the world, is extremely useful as it allows me to explore other people’s opinions and either argue with or support them within my own blog.
To begin with, I found the difference in the style of writing difficult. This was because I was working as though I was writing an essay. Once I established that there was a distinct difference between the two, I managed to structure my blogs in a way which was easier to read for the audience. I attempted to use shorter sentences and informal language. From my own experience, it is much easier to relate to the author when they don’t write as though they are academically superior. Other aspects of academic blogging, such as supporting your argument using references, was one which I was happy with. I am used to having to source strong references to back up points I am making as this is standard university practice. Also, because the blog was to be published online, it meant that accurate referencing was a necessity.
As the whole of the MA Urban Design course were responsible for the blog, we had fortnightly meetings. This allowed us to discuss where we were at in terms of blog posts, social media and the design of the blog. As a group, we were required to appoint someone to chair the meetings – I volunteered. I had never chaired a meeting before, so this was another new experience for me. I generally like to think of myself as fairly organised, so I felt that I could do a good job. Adem (minute taker) and I would meet up before scheduled meetings and plan what the discussion would entail. This was a particularly useful exercise as it helped structure the meetings. I do feel, however, that as we all prioritised other modules, such as Skills in Urban Regeneration, we struggled to focus 100% during these meetings.
My biggest challenge during the first semester was regularly blogging. I spent a lot of time in the studio working on the design project, and dedicated one day a week to work on the Urban Design Seminars module. Because of this, I struggled to dedicate enough time to research and writing a blog. When I came around to write my first official blog (which would be submitted), I actually really enjoyed the process. It allowed me to explore a particular topic from the lecture series in more depth, and have my own say on things. This is something which is not always possible when writing essays as you are limited to what you talk about.
Overall, I have enjoyed taking part in the blog during the first semester. I believe that I have developed new skills, as well as a newfound interest in blog writing – something which I will certainly continue with beyond university.