Pushing the envelope: Requiring blogging for learning

May 16, 2008

Tony Karrer asked an interesting question earlier this week: Should blogging be mandatory (in contexts such as attending conferences, formal learning setting, and sustained learning activities). The post generated a great discussion and a lot of points were raised. Not surprisingly, most of us in the conversation seem to object to anything “mandatory.” But now I am wondering if maybe some form of mandatory blogging isn’t a bad idea. After all, there are a lot of mandatory things in the learning world. Examples from my own career:

  • Taking training courses, I have had to complete certain assignments, often involving some sort of report
  • In various projects, I often have had to report out to colleagues on problem-solving results, project status, lessons learned, etc.
  • For personal development goals (such as reading educational books, attending lectures or conferences) I have had to write a report and email it to the team, or give a presentation.

All of these were “mandatory,” although that word may not have been used. They were required because there is some understanding of the importance of sharing knowledge. We all benefit from sharing lessons learned and knowledge newly acquired.

So, isn’t blogging the same thing? It is just another tool for doing what people have always done: connect and share. But blogging has some new benefits for learning organizations: Being on-line and storable, they potentially become a powerful way of storing tribal knowledge and having it searchable and retrievable by others now and in the future. And unlike Word reports sent via email, blogs are much better for creating conversation and further learning from one another….and those conversations, too, becomes storable and searchable.

How cool is that?

So maybe we should require blogging in certain contexts. It’s a powerful tool for learning. And as learning professionals, we really should be pushing the envelope with new technologies and helping our organizations become flexible, strong, learning organizations. We need to push the power of “We learning.”