Blogging in academia is a tough topic to figure out. Is it acceptable? Maybe even encouraged? (One can dream). Do those working in academic institutions – be they faculty, staff or administration – truly understand the web and what it's capable of?
Institutional reputation is largely created through the faculty's online identity, and many institutions are now making it a priority to develop, recognize, and encourage practices such as blogging.
This point fits in perfectly with my post on education as a product. The web is now the ultimate gauge of reputation and reputation is a huge part of how a higher-ed institution is successful. It affects recruitment, graduate employment and faculty attraction and retention. Most of those factors influence funding to some degree. The cycle goes on, and on, and on.
By embracing blogging and open digital sharing from faculty, students and staff, an institution can benefit from increased visibility, transparency and reputation.
Students should have every incentive to begin heavily researching something and writing about it, and if they do so well enough, it should absolutely count toward their degree. Odds are they will learn much more by doing their own self-directed work than they could in a classroom, the results of their research is public, and they can use it to tap into the community for their area of work.
Students researching a topic and then writing about it. Tapping into a community. That sounds an awful lot like what graduate students do when working on a thesis or what academics do when writing papers. Maybe "blogging" isn't such a foreign concept to academia after all.