A transformative step that learning technologists can participate in proposing, pushing, guiding, leading, managing and maintaining would be providing a campus-wide blogging platform and institutional aggregation site. Here are some guidelines for what this could look like:
1. The campus blogging platform should also be one of the largest consumer blogging platforms. Resist the urge to provide a homegrown solution. An important goal is to have our students continue to blog once they leave our campus. They will only do this if the platform is one that does not tie them to an institution and is also one they see being used by other people in their networks. According to a study done by the site Royal Pingdom, the top 3 platforms to consider are: Typepad, Wordpress, and Blogger.
2. The ideal blogging platform would be advertising-free and contain some subtle branding for your college or university. It seems that our institutions have some leverage here to negotiate favorable terms with one of the largest blogging platform providers that would make providing this lifetime service affordable.
3. Develop a prominent university/college page that aggregates all the blogs related to your institution. Set the page up so that blogs are categorized in relevant groups: current students, alumni, faculty and staff, and even maybe prospective students. Have this site edited and curated with a central blog that highlights and links to the most interesting posts from the community. Allow ranking of blogs by readership and commentary, pushing the most read and commented blogs to the top. Figure out how to let readers personalize the site by creating their own blog rolls and an easy way that they can launch a new blog and author existing ones. Only de-link blogs from your community that have clearly inappropriate content.
Negotiating a blogging platform deal and setting up an institutional aggregation site are the easiest parts of this project. What is more difficult, and more important, is making the case that providing your community with these tools is in the interest of all the stakeholders. We need to be able to answer questions about why it is important for our students to have an easy and convenient method to keep a public blog.
We need to make the case to create a first-year class on blogging for all of our students, one where they would apply writing and communication skills to their personal blogs. We need to figure out how to encourage our campus leaders to utilize this platform to blog regularly, setting examples for the community. And we need to communicate the importance of giving all the members of our community a place to express their views and opinions, even when these views may prove unpopular and uncomfortable.
Do you know of any campuses that have enacted something like this? Is anyone out there trying to make something like this happen?