March 20, 2009

Choosing a blogging system for education?

Here at Warwick University we have 6 years of experience with blogging. Here's some stats on our Warwick Blogs system:

  • 5914 blogs
  • 120209 entries
  • 22396 tags
  • 122105 images

We built our own system for three reasons:

  1. At the time, there were no other systems suitable for very large scale deployment.
  2. We could evolve it's features in parallel to our users' growing understanding of what they could use it for, and to meet our own specific requirements.
  3. People blog most effectively within a clearly identified community. They might broadcast to the world, but they need to know that they are writing for a specific audience. We could design our own communities so as to help our bloggers to get a sense of audience. We provide aggregation pages at a whole institution level, as well as for smaller sub-groups. Bloggers can also set permissions, so that entries are only viewable or 'commentable' by specified groups.

That last point has been the most important lesson for us. A strong and certain sense of audience (narrowcast, broadcast, scattercast) is the key to getting people to write online. If you're choosing a blogging system for education, then make sure you can help people to get the right sense of audience.

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