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ND blog network spurs online dialogue

Shannon O'Brien | Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Students, faculty and staff are using the Notre Dame blog network to connect globally, according to Don Schindler, the managing director of Marketing Communications at AgencyND.

Schindler, one of the founders of the network, suggested the idea upon starting his employment at the University in 2009.

“I was an avid blogger at my previous position before joining the University, and I believe that blogs are great way to communicate online, especially when it comes to being found via the search engines,” Schindler said.

Fueled by his passions for blogging, Schindler put his idea into action with the team at AgencyND, the University’s communications unit, using a program called WordPress, which currently powers over 60 million blogs worldwide. The Notre Dame blog network went live in February of 2010 and started to gain traction in June of that year, Schindler said.

The University provides this service for free, he said. It provides both student and faculty bloggers a platform to use under nd.edu, giving them an instantly higher search ranking than blogs posted elsewhere from a .com or .org domain.

“For students, the blog network allows them to get a feel for what blogging is like,” Schindler said. “Most small businesses and large corporations are creating blog networks and expect their employees to engage their customers through this type of platform.”

Currently, there are 171 blog sites with 602 users in the network, according to Schindler. More than 114,731 unique visitors have visited 189,617 times and looked at 432,203 pages as of Tuesday.

One current promoter of the Notre Dame blog network is professor Christine Becker of the Film, Television and Theatre Department. She has started using the blogs for her course on British television.

“I decided to try it out because I wanted to foster more conversation among the students and get them exposed to each other’s ideas more fully,” Becker said.

Students in Becker’s course are required to blog and post weekly comments, voicing their opinions and responses to different British television programs.

“I’m so often impressed by the depth of thought students express in short essays,” she said. “It struck me as unfortunate that I was the only one who got to read them and believed students would benefit from seeing what their peers were coming up with, so that’s another reason to have them blogging.”

According to Becker, blogging has become an important tool in the marketing world since it provides a coveted goal of many businesses: exposure. Not only does the Notre Dame blog network provide Notre Dame programs and courses with exposure in the virtual world, it also delivers a unique opportunity for experts in other parts of the world to contribute to the Notre Dame conversation.

“The class is on British television, so I also envisioned a possibility of student posts generating feedback from others beyond the class, including possibly British scholars and students who could lend first-hand insights from their cultural perspectives,” she said.

The blog posts are aggregated onto the main page of the website, which also provides a list of blogs students can follow. Students who wish to join the blog network need faculty approval and can visit http://blogs.nd.edu to get started.