The simple benefits of publishing a student blog that might surprise you!
A student blog can help graduates find paid employment in a highly competitive job market. In an environment where many graduates hold the same university degree, demonstrating practical skills in blogging and digital content creation can be absolutely vital.
My students are asked to create a WordPress blog as part of their digital media studies at Deakin University. Below are four of the most important reasons for this (and some examples from my students)…
Why are we talking about the potential value of a student blog?
In the 2020 Graduate Outcomes Survey, 68.7% of undergraduates were in full-time employment 6-months after graduation (GOS 2020), with many sectors being negatively impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, ‘the largest falls in undergraduate full-time employment by study area have been in Communications, down from 60.1 per cent in 2019 to 52.8 per cent in 2020’ (GOS 2020:8). However, rather than focusing on the negative, these figures also highlight how important it is for students to stand out from the crowd, and blogging is one way they can do this (visit this post for extra advice about standing out in a changing job market).
It’s not about ‘going viral’ or even having a huge volume of work to showcase. Instead, a student blog can demonstrate passion, work ethic, commitment to an industry and practical media-making skills. In order to be successful, the blog should be developed strategically, and with a broader audience in mind than a teacher or small group of classmates.
A student blog can develop practical skills in real-world environments
We (students and teachers) talk regularly about the importance of writing for an external audience. This can be an abstract concept for students who are conditioned to working within a traditional educational system. They’re used to satisfying an assessment rubric, criteria or marker, but not necessarily a real-world audience. So, during our digital media units, we encourage students to engage in a process of ‘learning by doing’ with platforms such as WordPress, YouTube and Soundcloud. We also engage with students, industry professionals, and others, on social media platforms such as Twitter. This public engagement allows students to develop skills in online publishing, networking and community building.
Real-world engagement is also where the concept of an external audience starts to become more tangible. So, rather than doing the bare minimum to satisfy assessment criteria, students create engaging content that an audience will genuinely love and find value in. While some students discover this quickly, others need a little more time and encouragement. And one of the most powerful forms of encouragement can come from seeing the work of their peers, so here we go…
Inspiration from some stellar students!
Below is some media (a blog and two videos) created by students in a third-year Digital Media Entrepreneurship unit during 2021. The featured students created this content to ‘pitch’ their own (hypothetical) start-up concept and have given me permission to share their work here.
Firstly, Olivia’s blog features her pitch for a more sustainable alternative to single-use plastic bottles called OneWay. She writes with a consistent and engaging tone of voice, which places the reader front and centre in the story.
You’re on your way to work, but you’re running late because you simply didn’t want to get out of bed this morning. In your Monday morning madness, you pressed snooze one too many times.Olivia Styles (2021)
As a reader, it’s hard not to engage with content written like this because it’s creative, entertaining and informative!
The next video was created by Zoe and embedded in her blog to promote the concept of an educational app called Foresight. The detailed custom-made graphics featured throughout, along with excellent planning, filming and editing, have produced a very impressive result!
Our final feature is a video produced by Sam (also embedded in a blog) to promote her start-up idea for an LED illuminated dog harness with GPS tracker called Spot Spot.
The work featured above isn’t perfect (and neither is mine) but these students have demonstrated creativity, professionalism and clear communication skills in developing highly compelling content. They have discovered the ‘magic’ in creating content that engages audiences in meaningful ways.
Student blogs (and embedded multimedia content) can speak volumes about skill and motivation that a written application or university degree alone simply cannot. Not to mention that engaging with student work like this is my inspiration!
Based on the brilliant content that these students have produced, I think the future of the communications field is looking very bright!
A blog often forms just one part of a personal-professional online presence. If you want to dig deeper into this topic, head over to How to Brand Yourself.
Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (2021) 2021 Graduate Outcomes Survey National Report, QILT, accessed 25 November 2021.