The most common definition for a blog is that it is a “web log” (Marketing Terms, 2018). It can also be referred to as an online diary or discussion of events, in addition to being a source of information for researched topics. Over the years, its definition has expanded into covering a multitude of subject matter including anything from literature to politics. Additionally, blogs are places where like minded individuals have the opportunity to discuss and debate topics that are relevant to them in both their personal and professional lives.
An advantage to using blogs in training environments is that unless they are removed from the internet, then the information contained in them is always accessible as a point of reference for a specific time in history. That information can also be measured as to how well it continues to be relevant with current events. A disadvantage of a blog is that many times they are a reflection of the writers opinion, and are often biased and not objective. This can affect one’s research if it is being used as a reliable source of credibility. The credibility of the bloggers material as well as it being a reliable source will adversely affect how well they are received in the community of their peers and fans.
By using blogs as training tools, this allows individuals to capitalize on people’s strengths and enhance their opportunities. Depending on where their best abilities lie, micro blogging on platforms such as Twitter and Tumblr, may be appropriate for someone who is more visual and can express themselves more creatively. On the other hand, a traditional long form blog may be best suited for individuals whose strengths and skills are in writing. The combining of both provides a winning hand where each type of learner has an opportunity to improve in areas where their counterparts excel. Blogs also provide an electronic journal of discovery and revelation in addition to stories that can be applied to future learning and training environments.
The five blogs below are excellent resources for educators, leaders, or trainers who are using storytelling when facilitating workshops and its techniques to reach a wide variety of audiences.
- The International Storytelling Center – http://www.storytellingcenter.net/learning/stories-connect: The International Storytelling Center provides monthly information about storytelling around the world and how the center itself plays a role in preserving the art form in this blog. The topics vary but mainly show how stories are used to connect with the international community. The center is located in Jonesborough, TN where the art form experienced its revival over 40 years ago and has been responsible for the rebirth of storytelling since the first festival in 1973. While comments are permitted the blog is primarily a reflection of experiences from the International Storytelling Center Staff and its director and how storytelling impacted those experiences.
- The National Association of Black Storytellers – https://nabstalking.wordpress.com: This blog focuses specifically on African American storytelling and its continued importance and relevance to the black community. It also discusses the significance of the passing down of stories from one generation to the next. The organization has been around for over three decades and one of its founders is still alive today. Each year in November the organization produces a festival featuring tellers from around the world who specialize in the art of telling stories from the African diaspora. Many topics of discussion from that Diaspora are the focus of this blog which makes it unique from other storytelling blogs in that it highlights ethnic storytelling.
- National Storytelling Network – https://storynet.org/blog/: The National Storytelling Network blog covers any and all aspects of professional storytelling from boardroom to class room and front porch to the stage. It is done monthly on the many facets of storytelling including the business of storytelling and storytelling in business settings. Occasionally, followers will contribute and share their experiences. The longevity of the blog and its consistency is due to the status of the bloggers who contribute and are well respected in the storytelling community. This is an excellent resource for any professional looking to incorporate storytelling into their training with a number of blog posts relevant to many subjects.
- TEDBlog – https://blog.ted.com/: TED Talks are respected around the world and have a track record of producing quality education & informative talks on a number of subjects. Likewise, their blog is equally impressive. Entries are made throughout the month for followers to engage and interact with the posts. There readers will find topics of discussion pertinent to a training environment which include: storytelling, digital storytelling, leadership skills, communication and collaboration. Each is in line with the tagline of TED Talks which is the sharing of great ideas. The search engine is very comprehensive and leaves no shortage of interesting and educational blogs to explore.
- Training Mag – https://trainingmag.com/training-day: Training Mag has monthly tips for training professionals such as learning from seasoned individuals and training the next generation. Other topics covered include recruitment, retention, leadership skills, and learning theories. This is a credible organization with history of being in forefront of the training and development field for decades while partnering with reputable industry professionals. In addition to management and HR regulations, it covers best practices and strategies that are considered new and groundbreaking techniques in the training and development industry.
For individuals who are new to blogging, here are a few tips to assist with getting started. First, take interest in a subject or hobby where you have a true passion. This will encourage reading and research of the subject which will enhance the blog that you are planning to create. Secondly, look for blogs that have a consistent longevity of credible posts as well as comments. This shows that there is an effective dialogue taking place between the blog writer and the reader. A third best practice is to look for a blog that stands out and is different. The same can be said if you are starting a blog. Ask these questions. What is a trademark that will separate your blog from others? What information in the blog can readers not get elsewhere? What makes it special or unique? Does the blog have a brand attached to it?
If starting a blog for the first time, look for a user-friendly platform where you can add, edit, and change easily without getting frustrated and in need of constant technical assistance. In addition to these basic tips for beginners, there is a comprehensive list of 30 best practices as well as a beginning blogging guide by well-respected blogger Matt Banner (Banner, 2015). In it, is covered everything from topics to discuss, to the incorporation of videos, social media and beyond. The list though done in 2015, is still applicable today and is a must have fort anyone serious about blogging.