Taking an interactive online course can be challenging and may feel overwhelming to a person who is used to traditional on-campus courses. In this case the person is suddenly exposed to many challenges in getting started with the learning activity, especially to get familiar with and use digital tools and platforms “the beasts”. This blogpost takes on one such beast: the blog. For the person who has never used a blog, it can be very scary and concerning to use it for expressing one’s thoughts and ideas out in the public. In the traditional on-campus courses, it used to be a small set of people (teachers and students) with whom one would share and discuss one’s thoughts and findings; but now with everyone using a blog?

Perhaps, using a blog may not feel scary if the
person takes a step back and investigates the following question:

“Am I already using any other digital tools or means similar to a blog
in my personal and/or professional life? If yes, then how different are those
tools from writing a blog.”

While investigating this question,
the very first sub-question that comes to mind is what is the purpose of using
a blog? According to Deng and Yuen [1], blog is a tool or means to quickly
share one’s thoughts, ideas and opinions with a broad pool of audience (basically
anyone who has access to the internet). A blog can be used not only to express
one’s thoughts, but also to reflect, interact and participate in a dialogue
based on the expressed thoughts.

This all looks very interesting and the person is now feeling somewhat motivated to use a blog. But, it still feels a bit scary. So, let’s try to explore the main question in light of the visitor-resident continuum model developed by White and Cornu [2], especially focussing in quadrant 4 as shown in Figure 1. In this model, there are two ends of the continuum along the horizontal axis. The visitor end is where a person uses web as a tool to occasionally do some work online, e.g., search for some information but work with the acquired information offline. At the visitor end, there is no trace of online presence of the person once getting offline. Whereas, at the resident end, the person has a continuous digital footprint. That is, a digital resident lives a portion of life online.

Figure 1: Visitor-resident continuum [2] (Figure is adapted from a screenshot taken from David White’s video [3]).

At first, it appears that one is more on the visitor side of the continuum. However, after some investigation and populating the visitor-resident continuum it is revealed that one may be pretty deep on the resident side. It is just that one may have not realised it yet. In this regard, there are some useful freely available online tools to perform self-assessment of one’s digital competence in a specific role, e.g., the self-assessment tool DigCompEdu [4].

Let us focus on the role of teaching researcher. Many teaching researchers are used to publishing scientific papers that are openly accessible to the public, e.g., on ResearchGate, LinkedIn, GitHub,  just to name a few. These forums are similar to blogs in the sense that anyone can read and comment on your published work and you can also start a dialogue using comments. Similarly, it is common for many teachers and researchers to publish online videos about their cool ideas, technical stuff, tools, and teaching and research methods. In a way this also works like a blog as the videos are openly accessible and the viewers can communicate with the owners of the videos by means of comments. Similarly, many teacher and researchers tend to help a wider community by addressing questions and engaging in technical or general discussions in online forums like stackoverflow, Quora, reddit, and public pages of Facebook. These activities are a lot more similar to writing a blog and engaging in discussions.

Take away messages:

  1. There is a lot to gain from the digital world provided one has the motivation to engage in digital literacies and online platforms.
  2. Being teachers, we love to share our knowledge with our students and fellow professionals. We have been doing this for a long time and we are comfortable with it. Why not to use a blog for expand the pool of receivers of our knowledge to everyone with access to the internet? ☺
  3. Many teaching researchers who do not use blogs, tend to use many other digital tools and platforms in “blog-mode”. They may not realise it that they already practice what it takes to use a blog. Using blog is a more systematic way of expressing and discussing one’s ideas to a much broader audience. Hence, blog does seem to be ‘the beast’ that one thought; it feels more familiar and friendly. Why not to get started with it!


[1] L. Deng, A. H. K. Yuen, Towards a framework for
educational affordances of blogs, Computers & Education, Volume 56, Issue
2, 2011, Pages 441-451,

[2] D. S. White, A. L. Cornu, Visitors and
Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, [S.l.], 2011,
ISSN 13960466, doi:

[3] D. S. White, Visitors and Residents: Credibility, YouTube video talk, published on 2014-03-10,, accessed on 2019-10-09.

[4] DigCompEdu self-assessment tool, The European Framework for the Digital Competence of Educators, available at:, accessed on 2019-10-09.

Online Participation and Digital Literacies: Blog—The First ‘Beast’ to Face