What is a Blog?
A weblog, or simply a blog, is basically a journal that is available on the web. The activity
of updating a blog is “blogging” and someone who keeps a blog is a “blogger”. Blogs are
typically updated daily using software that allows people with little or no technical
background to update and maintain the blog. Postings on a blog are mostly arranged in
chronological order with the most recent additions featured most prominently.
In simple terms, a blog is a website, where you write material on an ongoing basis. New
items show up at the top, so your visitors can read what's new. Then they may or may not
comment on it, or link to it, or email you.
Is a Blog a Webpage?
• To the reader, a blog is a webpage
• To the author, a blog is an authoring system that allows them to create a webpage
without knowing HTML or other web technologies and without needing special
How are Blogs Different?
• Blogs use a journal or diary metaphor
• A user makes a post instead of making a page
• Posts are most often ordered by date
• Posts can also be ordered by other criteria, such as user-defined categories
So Why Use a Blog?
• To make a website
• To make a website with many authors
• To publish a journal
All this can be accomplished without even knowing HTML, Frontpage or other web
Blogs in Education
The use of blogs in instructional settings is limited only by your imagination.
Options for instructors using blogs include:
• Content-related blogs as a professional practice
• Networking and personal knowledge sharing
• Instructional tips for students
• Course announcements and readings
• Annotated links
• Knowledge management
Options for students using blogs in courses include:
• Reflective or writing journals
• Knowledge management
• Assignment submission and review
• Dialogue for group work
• Share course-related resources
Features of a Blog-Based Class
Before choosing a blogging service, one must know their requirements. Following is a list
of features which could make a successful blog-based class:
• It must be possible for a teacher to create as many “class blogs” as deemed
necessary to organize class materials. For example, it must be possible for a
teacher to create a blog for class notes and another for posting group feedback.
• The class blogs must be viewable by all students. Furthermore, only the teacher
should have administrative privileges to modify these blogs.
• All students must have their own individual blog for posting assignments. Only two
people, the teacher and the student, can view the student’s individual blog.
Students can edit their own writing and the teacher can add comments to the
student’s submissions. However, students cannot edit the teacher’s comments.
• For the sake of organization, it must be simple for the teacher to change between
• The blogging service must provide server space on the Internet to store class and
• The blogging service must be free.
Although many blogging services are available, not all of them fit the stipulations above. In
order to have individual student blogs that allow the teacher to add comments and
modifications, a blogging service that allows “group blogs” is required. Blogger is one
blogging service that allows “group blogs”, as well as the other features previously stated.
Setting Up Class and Student Blogs at Blogger
An Account Can be Made in Three Steps:
1) For those without an account, a username and password must be created in the
2) The next step is to enter a title and URL for the new blog.
3) The last step is to choose a template to determine font, color and layout of the blog
when viewed as a webpage. You can easily change the template later or have your
own customized template, once your blog is set up.
Integrating Blogs into your Pedagogy
• Creation of class blogs should be done before the first class and assigned relevant
blog titles and URLs that communicate the purpose of the blog. For example, a blog
of class notes should be titled “class notes.
• By creating separate class blogs, information can be efficiently organized. For
example, one class blog can be solely for keeping lecture-based material. Another
blog can be kept solely for giving group feedback to the class. In this way students
can easily find pertinent information. Other possible class blogs are student
assignment instructions, vocabulary, and answers to past assignments.
• The teacher-created class blogs can be used as an example when introducing the
concept of blogs to the students.
• The creation of all the student blogs can be done on the first day of class.
• After introducing the class and the class blogs, give students a non-blog related
activity and have them come up to the teacher computer one at a time to create
their student blog.
Steps to a Create Student Blog:
1) From the teacher’s account, begin the process to create a new blog as previously
2) Enter the student’s name as the blog title and have the student enter a name for
their URL address. To keep the student blog private, this URL address should not be
shared with anyone.
3) Quickly have the student choose a template for the layout of their blog
4) After a few moments to process and create the blog, one is ready to start adding to
it. However, since the blog was created on the teacher’s account, students do not
have access to it as yet.
5) Adding the students as members to the blogs is the final, most important step in
setting up the student blogs.
6) In the settings menu of each of your blogs, there is a “members” option. Here,
group members can be added to the blogs via the add team member”button.
7) Following the instructions, have students type their email address in one of the new
user fields and click the save settings button
8) There is also a space to attach a message with the invitation. Since students must
have access to the class blogs that the teacher created, an easy way is to create a
message to the students containing all the information regarding the class blogs and
paste it into the message section of the invitation to join the student blog.
9) It is recommended that students bookmark these URL addresses on their computer
10) After all the students have completed this process, instruct them to check their
email. They should all find an invitation from Blogger with a link to follow to join the
11) After the students accept the invitations to join their blogs, the initial setup is
Viewing the Blogs
After logging in from the main page, www.blogger.com, users are taken to what Blogger
refers to as the “dashboard”. In the case of the teacher, all the class blogs and all of the
student-teacher group blogs are shown. In the student’s case, just the student-teacher
group blog is shown.
Note: It is important to tell students that when adding or editing a post, it will not be
saved until the “publish post” button is clicked. Students must be taught the
importance of this step or they will lose their work.
Advantages of Blogs to Teachers:
• Web based authoring – like Blackboard
• Design is totally separate from content
• Search, comment system and rich archiving tools are built in
• Content is stored in a database allowing for robust data-driven operations
Advantages of Blogs to Students:
• Students have access to instructor’s notes on the Internet. Students also have the
option of previewing the class material before class and reviewing the material after
• Because students are connected to the Internet, they have access to different
dictionaries and bibliographies.
• Because the class material is organized into sections, students can easily find
• Students can read comments for the class as a whole and comments directed at
them individually. This maximizes feedback and contact with the teacher.
• Students can observe their progress over time.
Disadavantages of Blogs:
• Blogs generally have no assessment or polling features.
• Although they often have a comment feature, blogs are not message or discussion
• In general, blogs have limited community features such as those found in
• Most people don’t have very much to say that’s interesting, and/or are unable to
write down their ideas in a compelling and clear manner.
• Blogs are easy to start but hard to maintain. Writing coherently is one of the most
difficult and time-consuming tasks. As a result, many blogs are not updated, thus
damaging rather than enhancing the reputation of the organization.
How Instructors Use Blogs
To teach writing and communication skills:
Walter Palmer: Black Bottom
Karl Fornes: College Composition
As a new form of academic publishing:
John Lovas: Jocalo's Blog
Harvard Law School: Harvard Weblogs
As public writing about their fields:
Mike Dorn: Disability Studies
Kevin McCabe: Neuroeconomics
Laurence Lessig: Lessig Blog
Temple University, Florida
Gerry McGovern, Web content management author and consultant
Blogs in Education