Invited by the University of Glasgow to present at the ‘Blogging for Historians’ workshop (September 2014), LJMU students Jade Barber, Elliot McGaffney, and Victoria Hoffman shared their experiences of conducting original historical research by using online digital archives. Reflecting on the various experiences of publishing this work online via blogging and social media, they also introduced their role in the exciting, new Blogging Beyond the Classroom mentorship scheme, funded by the LJMU and Liverpool SU ‘Change Liverpool’ initiative.
Here are Jade’s thoughts:
I was recently part of a team of students to deliver a presentation at the University of Glasgow in which we discussed the benefits of using blogging and social media in the classroom. I’m a third year student studying on the ‘Writing Lives’ module this year, and I studied on the ‘Prison Voices’ module last year.
In the presentation I reflected on how I found the style of blogging a welcome change from the strict essay format of other modules, because although it is still a piece of academic writing (and you still have to use referencing), it also gives you the opportunity to be more creative and conduct your own historical research.
I focused on my first Prison Voices blog entitled ‘You Knocked Me Down Like A Bullock!’ – a study of a Victorian murder case in which a man murdered his wife. I discussed how I went about gathering research for this blog post using online resources, and how I used social media such as Twitter to promote it.
In particular, my post was noticed on twitter by the Feminist and Women’s Studies Association, and they consequently published my blog post on their website and requested permission to post any further blogs I wrote, which now appears on their site, here.
I also talked about the difficulty of finding a voice in blogging, because you have to be conscious of writing something that potentially the whole world could see, instead of just your tutor. This takes time as it can make you really self-aware, which I struggled with at first.
Another struggle was knowing how to find the right academic sources to use, as they can be different from the ones you would use in a ‘typical’ academic essay. It can be tempting to use sources like Wikipedia because blogging doesn’t seem like such an academic piece of writing.
Finally, I discussed the process of peer marking our work in class, and how it helped us to compare our work to that of others and to make sure we were all on track. I think it made us closer as a class, and allowed us to pool our research and resources which meant we had more time to do ‘hands on’ work with our own blogs.