Against Blogging

Zach Whalen

Associate Professor, University of Mary Washington

@zachwhalen |

Guiding Questions

What am I "against" here?

What is blogging for, anyway?

Why isn't it working anymore, and what's at stake?

What have I done instead?

What else can we imagine?

"Against Blogging"

the class blog, the required weekly post, the wordpress multiuser feedwordpress hub and spokes structure

What is the blog assignment meant to accomplish?

Blogging offers instructors rich, dynamic environments that challenge students to focus on process and audience, and to disrupt patterns and habits developed when writing more traditional essay forms.

- Diane Jakacki

...your goal is simply to create some kind of substantive content within this system that contributes to that goal. Because this is a public website, your primary audience is not yourself, your classmates, or even your me your instructor. Instead, [write for] a general public that may be interested in this class or in our projects.

- My ENGL 386 syllabus (2018)

  1. A class blog can build a sense of community.
  2. Short, low-stakes writing assignments can give me a pretty good sense of how well students know the material.
  3. The chronology of a series of posts can help students notice and write about their learning process.
  4. Blogging lets students write for different rhetorical situations.
  5. Sometimes students can actually connect with an authentic public audience beyond the class.

Why isn't it working anymore?

ENGL 253: Games and Culture, Fall 2018

Some Generalizations

  • Most students don't read blogs unless required/forced to
  • Students don't know about the web that spawned blogging because the web has changed
  • Class blogs are ubiquitous, familiar, safe -- no longer disruptive

What's at stake?

"has a blog"


"digitally fluent"




What can we do instead?

ENGL 350: Electronic Literature

Discord (or Slack)


... as personal learning journals

... as portfolio

... without blogs?

What else?

Snapchat? TikTok? Instagram stories? A Youtube channel? Twitter hashtag?

Other forms of open collaborative

Big Questions

What is a domain without a blog?

How do we meet students where they are digitally and let them use the digital skills they've developed without making "creepy treehouses"?