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Essay #2

The blog pengsphotos.com is a blog aimed at photography hobbyists who are interested in learning more and engaging with the online photography community. The blog includes stories from my own experiences, lessons from those stories, basic information to improve photos, intermediate photography skills, and some opinion pieces regarding photography values. The imagined audience would be beginners who are interested in learning as much as they can from others to improve their photography skills. The real audience is small but is comprised of hobbyists who enjoy reading about other’s experiences for the entertainment rather than the lessons.

This imagined audience is addressed through the writing of mostly jargon-free blog posts and stories that are written from my experience, I then turn around and attempt at relaying the lessons I learned from those experiences. Photos taken by me are included in the blog posts to further explain concepts and enhance stories to give them meaning. In terms of design, the blog is made to be minimalistic yet easy to navigate. Drop down menus are made for the subcategories of the course assignments, and a static home page with an interesting photo and a short introduction are used to welcome new and returning readers.

In terms of value, the site is created to entertain readers as well as inform. This could be referred to as edutainment, which is “education meant to be educational” (Merriam Webster n.d.). However, this specific blog is meant to be read as entertainment first and education second. Playful learning is the term used by Mitchel Resnick (2004) in “Edutainment? No Thanks. I Prefer Playful Learning” in the Associazione Civita Report on Edutainment to describe an alternative approach to learning. Not through educating and entertainment, but through the active and willing participation of learners to learn through play. An example on the blog being the stories of failure having entertainment value with the secondary benefit being lessons that the readers can take away to use in their photography.

The use of stories engages the readers and teaches them a lesson through playful writing to emphasize the amusing mistakes that I make. This allows the reader to be engaged rather than knowingly consuming education that’s delivered as “a bitter medicine that needs the sugar-coating of entertainment to become palatable” (Resnick 2004).

This value would be provided to the main audience, who are readers that willingly read stories related to photography in order to gain entertainment value from it, though are interested in learning new skills and methods as well. What was learned from Google analytics was that not many people are interested in reading the lessons written on the blog, but they would rather read stories that are written with entertainment as a priority. Given this though, not many people visited the blog, so more valuable conclusions are not available to be made since google analytics were implemented too late in the semester to gather more data.

In the beginning of the term, the blog was thought of as being a purely educational blog with entertainment being secondary to education. Posts written had a stiff feeling as they truly embodied Resnick’s metaphor of the bitter pill. As posts were written throughout the semester, they became more playful as the writing got easier and flow of language along with my voice became clearer and established itself.

My thinking about writing blog has changed in that It has gotten more fluid. Syed Balkhi (n.d) wrote on the blog Constant Contact several tips to write more engaging content for online blogs. One that I had used to improve my writing is the “three sentence rule” which is keeping paragraphs short to allow the reader to process information more easily. In the beginning, I wrote posts quite long when I thought of the blog as education primary, and as I used this advice, my posts became shorter and more focused on entertainment. I became a lot more comfortable writing and it ended up being fun for me!

Looking forward, I would like to develop my blog further and possibly start integrating videos online to share stories and video content. My online self after this course will be more casual with less of an emphasis of communicating concepts to others, but rather to communicate feelings and ideas or opinions. I would also like to work on my writing skills as well. I would like to be able to more easily communicate feelings to give my readers more context for mistakes and situations. An example of this would be to cause them second-hand embarrassment.

Works cited:

Balkhi, S. (2020, November 11). How to Craft Epic Blog Posts That Engage Readers and Keep Them Coming Back. Retrieved from https://blogs.constantcontact.com/engage-readers/

Edutainment. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/edutainment

Resnick, M. (2004). Edutainment? No Thanks. I Prefer Playful Learning. Retrieved from https://llk.media.mit.edu/papers/edutainment.pdf

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