- blog owners submit their blog RSS feed to the hub (as at Connected Courses)
- result is a consolidated RSS feed and OPML file (as at Connected Courses)
- result might also include a blog link directory (as at Connected Courses)
- results might also include a blog post display (as at Connected Courses)
I'll be using this blog post to brainstorm out loud about this for a few days and then see what I can cook up this weekend. Any and all feedback would be welcome, especially if anybody is at a school that DOES have some kind of blogging hub for faculty and staff to connect via blogs.
Updated Wed. morning: Thanks to folks at Twitter and G+ for feedback and questions! I've added some more information as a result.
Updated Sun. morning: Thanks again to folks at Twitter, G+, and in comments here for feedback. I've expanded on these ideas some more!
Here are some of the thoughts that I have in mind:
1. Class hubs at the Domains pilot. We've got a Domain of One's Own pilot going at OU, with students blogging like crazy at create.ou.edu. Each class functions as a "hub" by default because the student blogs are all tagged by the class the students are in, so you can browse by classes in the directory and you can also get an RSS feed for each class. So, I've been watching the different classes by subscribing to the class RSS feeds in my feed reader.
2. The power of blogging. Watching the classes that are part of the Domains pilot is one of the most exciting experiences I have had at OU. Even though I am not present for the actual classes, the flow of the blog posts — day by day, week by week — gives me the sense of really being there in the class, "hearing" the discussion as each student explores in their detailed, individual posts the topic at hand. For a specific example, see Adam Croom's post about the Journalism class and how they are sharing videos via their blogs: Scaling Creativity. It's fabulous!
3. A hub can include existing blogs, too. Hopefully many faculty and staff will take advantage of the Domains pilot (how to request an account), but of course there are existing blogs, too. If we had a hub like the Connected Courses hub, people with existing OU blogs could join in too. We don't have very many active blogs at OU (at least... not that I know of... yet!), but we do have a few really great ones. The College of Liberal Studies Insights blog is a favorite of mine, and that is just one example. Who knows what other great blogs there might be out there now or could be in the future... with just a little encouragement?
4. Help bloggers find readers. People who blog can get discouraged if they feel they do not have readers. Now speaking for myself personally, that's not a worry to me; I am a blogoholic, and I blog in the same way that other people might takes notes in a document — my blogs ARE my notebooks. But I've known plenty of people who get discouraged about their blogging because they feel like they don't have a readership. If we had a blog hub for faculty and staff my school, that could help people find a mutually supportive audience.
5. Blogs, not discussion boards. OU really does not have a viable discussion forum online anywhere (the Chatter experiment lasted a good long while, but it's no longer very active). My guess is that blogs, which people can configure and control themselves, are more likely to promote good communication than a discussion forum. Discussion forums belong to everybody/nobody, especially when there is not a strong pre-existing sense of online community and online engagement. Blogs, on the other hand, are personal spaces which individuals can manage in the way that they feel most comfortable with. They can moderate comments if they want, or they can even turn off comments; blogs still fulfill an important public communication function even without comments. Plus, for academics, blogs have this advantage: they easily allow for tl;dr thinking-out-loud. My blogs are proof of that! :-)
6. Distributed syndication, not a group blog. The idea here is that these blogs are independent blogs, running on any blog software that has full-feed RSS (WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, other blog platforms). People publish what they want to publish; people read what they want to read. It's a very a laissez-faire approach powered by inclusiveness, without all the editorial complications that an actual group blog poses.
7. More efficient than individual lists. For several years, I've been trying to subscribe to any University-of-Oklahoma-related blogs I can find, but that is inefficient in all kinds of ways. For one thing, it depends on me finding the blogs, which is very haphazard! And it's also really too personal; a hub for university blogs should not be bound up in one individual's maintenance of a blog list. For my own classes, running a syndicated blog hub with Inoreader makes sense (here's how I do that), but a university blog hub deserves better.
Okay, that is
Big oaks from little acorns grow.