At the recent ASHA convention, I was proud to be a featured panelist on a Learning Lab session. At this venue, we talked about why it is imperative that SLPs understand and embrace the world of social media that is taking our profession by storm. Whether you want to interact daily or prefer to sit back and listen, social media has become an invaluable resource for communicating with colleagues and staying on top of recent research and trends.
Our booth and panel were both quite popular and our visitors expressed an interest in learning more that they could take home with them to digest at their leisure. We anticipated that this would be the case, so several of us “#SLPeeps,” together with Heidi Kay at PediaStaff, co-authored and produced a simple e-book that we would like to share with you as a blog hop.
My part below is part two! Please see the links below for the rest of the book. We will post the entire PDF next week, but in the meantime, please hop away and support all the fantastic contributors to this fantastic resource!
Essential Social Media Tools for SLPs — Part Two: Embracing Blogs
by Kim Lewis
When I find a new blog it’s like: discovering money in the pocket of last year’s jacket, or rounding the corner on my morning walk and seeing a family of deer, or having an adorable new kiddo (and low key) parent walk into therapy. It makes my day.
But many speech-language pathologists haven’t embraced the medium, and it’s a shame because there is so much to be gained.
WHAT EXACTLY IS A BLOG?
“Blog” is a portmanteau of “web log” and is, at its essence, an online journal.
A (speech) therapy blog is typically written by a certified speech-language pathologist and chronicles their days through the eyes of the profession. This might play out as: a record of materials they use/create, reviews and opinions of the apps they are using, humorous anecdotes from the trenches of work or school, or discussions on SLP related concerns. Truly, there are as many blog styles and viewpoints as there are therapists!
WHY SHOULD I CARE?
- Specialized/niche posts. Blogs can be remarkably specific since they don’t have the constraints of pleasing a large, general audience. Chances are someone is addressing the questions you have (and if they aren’t, start writing yourself!)
- Abundance: Most therapy blogs are putting up new information several times a month. This quantity greatly surpasses other, traditional options like journals, texts, workbooks and magazines.
- Immediacy: Need a new technique suggestion or therapy activity, maybe something seasonal? You can find it on a blog, at any time! All you need is a moment to search.
- Accessibility: Writing tends to be more casual and chatty. Though most will still use jargon typical to our field, many make an effort to use less technical terms making posts easier for parents to follow as well. This is particularly helpful if you need some basic information in a less familiar therapy area.
- Permanence: A blog entry is always out there unless the author specifically removes it. This means, unlike email or a file, you won’t misplace it or delete it. You will want to bookmark or otherwise keep track of posts you find useful, but the post itself remains on the web.
- Interaction: Bloggers LOVE to hear from readers and are usually quick to respond to notes and questions. At the end of the post, there is typically a place to post “comments.” Type in your query or remark and the author will most likely get back to you with clarification, more specifics or elaboration on the theme. Blogs can be a great way to stay connected to others in the field especially if you work in an environment where you are the only SLP in sight.
And to top it all off, blogs are free!
WHERE CAN I FIND THEM?
Blogs are so popular that the Google sidebar specifically has a blog search, but there are other options that will streamline the process:
- Check out a compilation blog like ASHASphere or PediaStaff. Both of these very popular sites regularly post items that they’ve found particularly interesting, pertinent or entertaining. Scroll through their posts and you’re bound to find authors that speak to your needs. Simply click on the link to their specific blog in the author bio and it will take you directly to their site where you can peruse additional posts.
- Look at “The Best Speech-Language Pathologist Blogs A to Z.” This post, authored by Heidi Kay of PediaStaff, appeared on the ASHAsphere website in March 2012 and had the lofty goal of compiling a list of noteworthy blogs and brief descriptions of their offerings. Over 35 are listed!
- Get on Twitter! The #SLPeeps recently added a new hashtag, #SLPBloggers. Search #SLPBloggers on Twitter and you will see a running list of new posts as announced by their authors. There will be a link within the tweet that you can click to go directly to their blog and the pertinent post.
- Try Pinterest, specifically the Speech Language Therapy Blog Posts Board. This board, created by ConsonantlySpeaking.com, is a location for bloggers to pin their own posts. Scroll through the ideas and click on the author’s website, listed at the bottom of each pin, to see their entire blog.
HOW DO I FOLLOW ONES THAT I LIKE?
- Subscribe! The easiest way to keep up with a blog and catch all their posts is to subscribe. In almost all cases, this is free. Usually, you need only provide your email address and it isn’t shared with other parties (though you should always read the fine print!) On the blogger’s website there is typically a clearly marked “subscribe” button, most often on the top right of your screen. You will receive an email every time a new post is published on that blog.
- Use Blogtrottr. This website allows you to receive email notifications from blogs that have an RSS feed (and no specific “subscribe” option). Simply enter the website address and your email address then confirm. It’s easy!
- Try Google Reader. Google allows you to compile a list of your favorite blogs and continually updates the entries with their newest post.
- Subscribe to the SLP blogs bundle. If you are still looking for new blogs, or don’t have the time to compile a list yourself, try this! It allows you to view updated blog posts on a large number of already “bundled” SLP blogs within your Google reader account. Sean Sweeney (aka SpeechTechie), put together a SLP Blog Bundle that currently contains over 60 blogs. Sean does a masterful job of very simply walking you through the needed steps to subscribe and update.
HOW DO I MANAGE ALL THIS READING?
- Bookmark it! These apps are great if you find a post you like and want to keep track of, particularly if you’re not sure you’d follow the blog on a regular basis. Both Evernote and Instapaper are great for this. Instapaper on the iPad works by “making a copy” of the article for you to read later, even if you aren’t on the internet. Evernote is a great organizational tool that allows you to group websites, posts, and personal documents.
- Create a personalized magazine. Apps such as Flipboard and Zite can be used as customized magazines filled with news and blogs specific to your interests.
My clinical skills are constantly honed and challenged by the masterful therapists out there sharing their work and passion. Open your eyes to others in our field that have opened the door to their therapy lives.