Blogging as Public Pedagogy: Creating Alternative Educational Futures

pedagogia publica

Blogs are everywhere these days. They are the must-have accessory for the contemporary scholar, digital or analogue. Easy-to use, freely available software means that anyone with time, inclination and minimal expertise can set up their own online space from which to articulate their version of the world. In excess of 400 million people world wide access such spaces each month, and each day tens of thousands of people add yet another blog to the more than 70 million already in existence –According to WordPress stats, which is one of several freely available blog hosting sites available (accessed June 24, 2015).

Given the pervasiveness of blogging, it is remarkable that there is not a greater body of scholarship theorizing their significance. Positioned as ‘third spaces’, blogs often have clear institutional affiliations yet exist somewhere beyond corporate boundaries. They are powerful contemporary vehicles for understanding an aspect of what it means to be human.

In “Blogging as Public Pedagogy”, I use the prolific digital data generated by two adult education blogging communities to theorize what it means to understand professionalism in relation to policy, pedagogy and the purposes of education. My exploration works within the epistemic frame of Public Pedagogy. This widely used but fabulously diffuse concept, originated in the work of Henry Giroux. However, Sandlin, O’Malley and Burdick curation of an extended body of literature has refined the concept and made it available for meaningful use. In Blogging as Public Pedagogy I make a valuable distinction between the more pervasive concept of academic blogging which are after all public spaces, and the blogs I explore as ‘intentioned pedagogic spaces’, which are theorized as offering a pedagogy conducted with / in and through a public of interested others who coalesce around them. I viewed these Public Pedagogic spaces through the prism of Burroway’s knowledge typology.

They attract a public of interested others who extend beyond established educational professionals. They serve purposes other than the generation of knowledge, fulfilling the reflexive impulse rather than instrumental need. Central to these Public Pedagogic spaces is the extent to which they pre-figuratively embody alternative educational futures.

Through the forensic analysis of two blogging communities, the paper argues that blogs enable the forging of a mutual solidarity with ‘resisting others’ through critical elaboration and the creation of  participatory spaces of solidarity and affinity. The spaces created are both inclusive and anti-hierarchical, working from a principle of education as a mechanism through which the public is able to claim moral and political agency. They enact a public pedagogy that makes authority politically and morally accountable. They embody a committed civic, political and moral public pedagogic practice.

Yet, the point of the study is not to conceptualize blogging as such. My intention is to treat these blogs as a source of data rather than as objects of analysis. My interest is in the exploration, location, tone, texture and cultivated audience surrounding voices of educational dissent. The paper concludes with the voice of one of my research participants who defines the role of the Public Pedagogue in terms of the three ‘R’s. Instead of the traditional reading, writing and arithmetic –these are alternatively created as respect, resistance and reality.

The paper concluded that these online Public Pedagogic spaces are defined, created and then occupy the possibility of alternative educational futures.



Carol Azumah Dennis

Dr. Dennis manages a partnership of five regional University Centre providers of Post-16 Initial Teacher Education. She is also an external examiner for Canterbury Christchurch, Birmingham, Sheffield and Brunel University, reviewing various programmes including teacher education and PhD theses. She is currently a lecturer in Education at the University of Hull, United Kingdom.