The fall semester is here. As I’m unable to travel (from NY to Helsinki) this Fall to teach, I stole an idea from a colleague/friend whose work I admire as a scholar and a journalist/activist. Sean Jacobs is a prof at the New School, International Affairs, as well as a master mind behind the wonderful & successful, media critical group blog Africa Is a Country. His point in a nutshell: blogs are already, and will extensively be, sites of serious opinion formation and generation. He uses blogs, and blogging as an activity, in his courses.

As Sean (who’s South African and has studied in the UK but lives in the US) notes, the trend is pronounced in the States. But it’s clearly a trend — even if, as Amelia noted in an earlier post, many establish a blog and quickly abandon it. For sure, blogging takes enthusiasm and commitment. But those pros or semi-pros who are active can have incredible impact, whether in politics or regarding consumer culture (more about that later).

As I interpreted a conversation with Sean, he thinks blogging is an important phenomenon for university students to examine, and to participate in — in order to understand the mechanisms of it.

And I’m convinced of it!  So I’ll teach a course on Communication Research in Action (on media activism, advocacy & engaged scholarship) via a blog! Admittedly, I’m very lucky to collaborate with Itir Akdogan, a colleague participating in the experiment in Helsinki, who can help the students f2f. But what a wonderful format for this particular topic: I see our ‘teaching blog’ (up officially 9/20) as a site of activism, as we’ll discuss, debate and share in an open, informal forum; about issues that matter to media reformers and to scholars engaged in such matters.

I’ve always learned tons from students, especially about digital living the intensity of which seems to be so much higher among them. Soon we’ll co-learn about important issues, some theories, many concrete cases — and about blogging as a form of engaged scholarship.

It would be interesting to hear if anyone has had experiences about such experiments? Ideas, advice?

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