In this section I reflect on my experience of supporting colleagues to use professional blogs to develop their authentic academic voices, disseminate their academic practice and curate their own professional portfolios.
For the last fifteen years I have made extensive use of a wide range of social media technologies to facilitate teaching and learning, and to support my own open practice. My first Cetis blog and my twitter account, which I use to share practice and connect with the learning technology community, both date to 2007, and since 2013 I have maintained my own professional WordPress blog, Open World , on Reclaim Hosting. I use my blog to facilitate my open practice, curate my independent professional identity, and host my CMALT portfolio .
As a result of my experience with professional blogging, when the University of Edinburgh established their Academic Blogging Service in 2018, I was tasked with developing a digital skills workshop to highlight the benefits of professional blogging and to encourage colleagues to engage with the new service. Blogging to Build Your Professional Profile is the workshop I created, which covers the benefits of professional blogging, writing for blogs, privacy, openness, copyright and licensing, amplifying your blog with social media, online safety and dealing with comments. It also includes practical guidance on setting up a blog, links to additional digital skills resources and research, and examples of professional blogs to provide inspiration. All the materials for this workshop are shared on the Creative Commons licenced Blogging to Build Your Professional Profile  site which I built and maintain..
I teach Blogging to Build Your Professional Profile monthly, originally on-campus and now as an online workshop, which is open to all staff and postgraduate students at the University of Edinburgh. I update the workshop materials regularly to ensure the workshop remains popular and relevant. In 2020 I developed a new workshop for academic colleagues adjusting to the transition to hybrid teaching; Introduction to Blogging for Hybrid Teaching , which ran for 18 months. This workshop built on the pedagogical approaches explored in An Edinburgh Model of Online Teaching course and explored the benefits of blogging to build community and collegiality and reduce transactional distance. In addition, I also teach a number of bespoke workshops on professional blogging for undergraduate and postgraduate students who will be undertaking reflective blogging assignments for the GeoScience Outreach course, the Wellcome PhD Programme in Integrative Cell Mechanisms and the Institute of Genetics and Cancer.
In 2019, my senior colleague Karen Howie and I curated and edited a mini-series of 11 blog posts on Academic Blogging  written by staff and students for the University’s influential Teaching Matters blog. As part of this series we recorded a podcast with colleagues on Blogging to Enhance Professional Practice . In addition, Karen and I presented a paper at the ALT Conference on Influential voices – developing a blogging service based on trust and openness , in order to share the University of Edinburgh’s experience of developing and supporting an academic blogging service with the ALT community.
Blogging offers a wide range of professional and pedagogical benefits for both staff and students. In addition to enabling you to curate your professional identity and develop an online portfolio, it allows you to hone your craft as a writer, and provides a medium to demonstrate the development of your thinking and research and reflect on your practice. Sharing blogs on the open web functions as a form of networked participatory scholarship, which can help build professional identity, community, and collegiality. However it is important to acknowledge that not all individuals experience open scholarship in the same way, and that there are risks inherent in open practice. After a course participant raised the issue of online safety during a workshop, I reflected on these risks in a blog post, Professional Blogging: Acknowledging social media harassment . I felt that the workshops I developed and taught did not adequately acknowledge these risks or provide sufficient support for colleagues to deal with them. As a result, I added the following material to the workshop to cover this important topic:
“Although using social media, particularly twitter, can be a great way to amplify and disseminate your blog posts, it’s important to be aware that social media can be a hostile environment, particularly for women, people of colour and marginalised groups, who may experience targeted harassment. You should never feel obliged to engage with social media, particularly if you feel unsafe or attacked. Your online safety is of paramount importance.”
As an experienced blogger it is sometimes easy to forget how challenging it can be to take the leap to start blogging, and how vulnerable and anxious people may feel when sharing their writing and practice in public. I reflected on these anxieties in another blog post, Have No Fear – Learning to love your blog  which covers some common fears and apprehensions about blogging, and which I have subsequently incorporated into the workshops I teach. This blog post also generated some discussion on twitter where a number of colleagues commented on how useful they found it.
I am always touched by the enthusiastic response I receive when I teach, write and present  about the benefits of professional blogging. Sharing my own personal experience of how blogging has sustained me through difficult phases of my career, including precarity and redundancy, and the demonstrable benefit it has had in terms of extending my professional networks and evidencing my CMALT portfolio appears, to resonate with colleagues . The intersection of the personal and the professional appears to strike a chord and inspire people to take the first steps on their own blogging journey. At the same time, I am continually learning from my fellow bloggers and from the students and colleagues I teach, who challenge me to reconsider and re-evaluate the benefits and limitations of curating our professional identities and reflecting on our practice through academic blogging.
- Open World. My professional blog, which I have maintained since 2013.
- CMALT Portfolio. My open CMALT portfolio awarded in 2017.
- Blogging to Build your Professional Profile. Open resources I created for the digital skills workshop I have taught since 2018.
- Introduction to Blogging for Hybrid Teaching. Outline of the workshop I developed and taught from 2020 – 2021.
- Academic Blogging mini-series. A series of blog posts on the Teaching Matters blog curated by Karen Howie and I.
- Blogging to enhance professional practice. A Teaching Matters podcast featuring Karen Howie, Eli Appleby-Donald, James Lamb and I.
- Howie, K., and Campbell, L.M., (2019), Influential voices – developing a blogging service based on trust and openness, ALT Conference, University of Edinburgh, (abstract).
- Campbell, L.M. (2019), Professional Blogging: Acknowledging social media harassment, Open World.
- Campbell, L.M. (2019), Have No Fear – Learning to love your blog, Open World.
- Campbell, L.M., (2018), Using WordPress to build an online academic identity, PressED Conference. A twitter presentation about how I use my blog to build and maintain an independent, professional online identity and evidence formal skills recognition and certification through CMALT.
- Campbell, L.M. (2018), PressED Conference – The morning after the night before, Open World. Responses to my PressED twitter presentation.