Emerging practice: the liveblog as a tool for learning

We presented a new take on blogging research at the CAL conference, this time focusing on the practice of liveblogging.

Abstract extract

A liveblog consists of a series of contemporaneous notes of an event arranged chronologically and shared online by an individual author in order to support learning. Although liveblogs take their name from the blogs in which they originated, they can now be found on other social network sites, such as Cloudworks, and may appear as a synchronous stream of notes by the same author on microblogging sites such as Twitter. They are not transcripts or edited highlights but personal accounts, written for an interested audience, reflecting a personal understanding of an event or presentation.

This paper examines this new academic practice, and its implications for learning. It investigates the perceived benefits and disbenefits for the live blogger, for their audience and for the presenters and organisers of events that are live blogged. To do this, it draws on reflective accounts by four live bloggers, who have experience both of informal live blogging, and of live blogging conferences and presentations in an invited capacity.

For the live blogger, this practice offers an effective use of time, a set of easily locatable notes that can make it easier to focus on and remember a presentation. For presenters and organisers it can enhance an event by capturing questions, indicating audience response and adding to understanding of what is said. For the wider audience, it gives a flavour of an event, capturing elements and responses that are not available from an online set of PowerPoint slides. Balanced against these benefits are the problems: bloggers writing rather than reflecting, speakers wary of instant online critique, and audiences irritated by ill-structured notes and noisy typing.

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