What is a blog?

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					                             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
        software


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
authoring tools.




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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
  • E-portfolios
  • 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
       students’ blogs.
   •   The blogging service must provide server space on the Internet to store class and
       student blogs.
   •   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


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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
(www.blogger.com)
An Account Can be Made in Three Steps:




   1) For those without an account, a username and password must be created in the
      first step.
   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.


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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
      described




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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




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   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
     student-teacher blog.
   11) After the students accept the invitations to join their blogs, the initial setup is
     complete.


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
       class.
   •   Because students are connected to the Internet, they have access to different
       dictionaries and bibliographies.


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   •   Because the class material is organized into sections, students can easily find
       information.
   •   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
       boards.
   •   In general, blogs have limited community features such as those found in
       Blackboard.
   •   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


References:

Temple University, Florida
Gerry McGovern, Web content management author and consultant
Blogs in Education




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