Keeping up with the flow of information that is available online is a never-ending task. Where do you start? And perhaps more importantly, where do you stop? Blogs are a great source of information – they provide quick access to brief articles with up-to-date information and ideas. Blogging is gaining ground as an open format for communication and dialogue. This is happening in many industries as well as in academia. Education professionals are using blogs to share their ideas and research, and to ask questions online. As an online student, blogging helps you gain access to these professionals and their work, right from your computer.
With millions of blogs currently online, it's not realistic to try to keep up with everything. I recommend you develop a focused strategy – begin by selecting ten blogs that you can follow on a regular basis. From that group, you can then add and subtract, continually refining the stream of information to meet your needs. For online students, there are ten general blog topics I encourage you to consider. These are listed below with examples of each.
Ten Blogs for Online Students
- Writing – Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing This blog delivers on the title providing brief posts and daily tips that address all of your grammar, punctuation, and writing questions. There is a search feature to help you find what you are looking for and you can even submit questions to the site.
- Style Guide – APA Blog Your academic program will likely dictate which style guide you should be using for your course assignments. The APA Style Manual is a popular one, and has a blog to discuss citations and formatting. Other writing topics are also covered, including word choice and grammar. Find the site related to your required style guide and add it to your list (MLA and Chicago are just two other examples.)
- Studying – Study Hacks This book author blogs about college life, aspirations, and careers and provides a host of study tips along the way. Topics include: studying for exams, avoiding procrastination, paper writing productivity, and techniques for asking your professor for help.
- Research – ResearchBuzz "News about search engines, digital archives, online museums, databases, and other Internet information collections since 1998." This blog has a new post daily with the top stories of the day and links to more information about each. An eclectic but interesting read – great for sparking ideas.
- Internet Search – The Google Inside Search Blog As an online student, the Internet is your direct line to your courses and related information. This blog is brand new (started just this week) from Google. Follow it to find out more about Internet searches and how they work. Bing Search and Yahoo Search also have blogs.
- Higher Education News – Wired Campus This blog from The Chronicle of Higher Education features articles related to technology and education. Recent topics include copyright, online file sharing, and faculty trends. Find a blog or website that can help you stay up-to-date with issues specific to higher education.
- Careers – Position Ignition This is just one of the many career advice blogs available to you covering everything from career exploration and transition to resume writing and job search strategies. You might also like Brazen Careerist and the Vault Career Advice Blog. Be sure the one(s) you decide to follow are current and relevant to your field of study.
- Technology – Technology and Learning Blog From the Inside Higher Ed website, this blog covers technology issues as they relate specifically to education. As an online student you will encounter new technologies and new applications for technology within your academic program. Stay current on the latest information and trends, and be ready for innovations on the horizon. You might also like the range of technology articles on Lifehacker or Mashable.
- Current Events and Leaders – What are you studying? Who are the leaders on your field? No matter what your field is (technical, career, or professional) there are specialized blogs and websites available to help you stay up-to-date with the latest discussions, trends, and issues. Staying current will help you with your coursework and help prepare you for a future job search. Finding blogs written by professional associations in your field is a good place to start.
- Your School! –Higher education institutions are using blogs these days to disseminate announcements and updated information to students. You'll find these at the college/university level, as well as published by Career Centers and Advising Offices. Find the blogs at your school and add at least one to your list.
Manage Your Subscriptions
Subscribing to multiple blogs individually can result in a lot of email. To help manage all of this information, try a free blog reader! These tools allow you to subscribe to multiple blogs and other websites with one account. You will then have one access point you can refer to for the latest posts from all of your favorite blogs. Here are just a few blog readers to consider:
There are many more out there. As you compare these tools, keep in mind the features and functions they each provide as well as the look and feel of the interface. Make sure you select a tool that is user friendly so that you will return to it often to read the latest articles.
- How do you want to be able to search the blogs – by topic or author?
- Do you want to be able to organize your blogs into categories?
- How do you want to access all of this information – on a computer, tablet, or smartphone?
- Do you want to have easy control to add and delete new blogs?
Refine Your List
As you move through your program you'll find additional blogs to add to your list, and others on your list will no longer be relevant. This process of fine-tuning is ongoing. Your blog list is your list, so make sure you are modifying it to suite your needs. Don't forget to share your favorites with your classmates and instructors! Help them to build their blog lists, too.