Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Blog Comment of the Day

It looks like our OAH session "Is Blogging Scholarship" is getting more post-conference attention than most of other sessions that took place in Atlanta this past weekend.  Not bad for a Sunday morning panel.

This comment, written by "ebharlowe," was posted in the comments section of the Junto in response to Ken Owen's post on blogging.

"I’m wondering if Messiah College’s Admissions office is keeping track of applicants who consider coming to Messiah because of John Fea’s blog?"

Here is the entire comment:

As a faculty member who has been through the tenure process multiple times and who has sat on personnel committees a private liberal arts colleges and regional state universities, I have a different view of the tenure thing…

Let me say that there are, and should be, different standards for tenure at R1′s than for Liberal Arts and regional universities. The publishing bar is far lower at *most* non-R1′s and the committee is more likely to value the Ernest Boyer types of scholarship more.

This is not to say that you can get tenure without *any* refereed publications or university press books (though I’ve seen it happen). My experience is that a blog that focusses on disciplinary issues, like “the Junto”, would be well-received by tenure committees as an aspect of scholarship. Blogging is not a substitute for traditional scholarship, but at universities where continuous faculty engagement is valued over production, it will count. Bottom line to tenure aspirants….local conditions may vary.

The other two pillars of tenure are teaching and service. Blogs like “Historiann”, “Tenured Radical” and “The Way of Improvement Leads Home” are invaluable as commentary on the profession. Through their blogs each of these authors have become public mentors to young scholars. Blog posts generate on-line discussion of important professional issues. They also generate discussions at the academy’s equivalent of the water cooler, the Xerox machine.

Bloggers also offer ways to explore and discuss new pedagogies. “The Junto” has published on using particular assignments or sources in teaching, for example. Blogging demonstrates a commitment to improving one’s teaching and is more useful in thinking about teaching than a dozen teaching development workshops.

Another aspect of service is getting your university’s name out to a wider audience. Blogs generate publicity for the department in ways that the publicity brochure and website cannot. I’m wondering if Messiah College’s Admissions office is keeping track of applicants who consider coming to Messiah because of John Fea’s blog? Are more students considering graduate work at Colorado State after reading Ann Little or Jonathan Rees? University PR folk love publicity. Shouldn’t bloggers get credit for this in their tenure/promotion file?

As with scholarship, maintaining a blog does not replace service on your department’s outcomes assessment committee or exonerate your poor teaching record but it *is* service to the department/profession and should be counted as such.