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Social Learning Tools: Blogs, Social Networking and RSS

Dear learners in previous unit you learned about the learning management system and its various features. These features provide the learner with a virtual classroom environment.

You might have observed that beside the classroom, learning occurs at ‘Out of the classroom environment’ as well. This learning includes peer to peer interaction. In this peer to peer interaction, learners enrich their learning by interacting and discussing with each other. They receive feedback, comments and share knowledge with each other (including the teacher). They also communicate with the teacher to clarify their queries, which were not resolved during classroom. They connect with each other for knowledge sharing, develop collaborative projects and completion of the assignments.

With the advancement of technology this ‘Out of the classroom environment’ has taken place in the virtual world. There are many tools, helping the learning community to perform these tasks on web based platform. These tools include emails, instant messaging, blogs social and networking websites. These tools have provided (besides their traditional uses) enormous opportunity and freedom to explore the new ways of teaching and learning.

Click on following link to learn how social media is giving a new dimension to teaching and learning:

Social Media in Education - Teaching Digital Natives: 

This unit shall discuss the uses of Blogs, Social Networking and RSS tools in the teaching and learning process. We will also discuss the some popular web sites and their features.

Learning Outcomes:

After going through this unit, you will be able to

  • Discuss the application of Blogs, Social Networking and RSS in teaching learning process
  • List various blogging, social networking and RSS tools with their features
  • Apply these tools in your teaching learning process

Introduction Blogs

Think about a situation when you have read an article on news paper or visited to a historical place. Now, you want to share your thoughts on this matter with others and like to know what they are thinking on your views. What you will do …..?

Would you send an e-mail to your connections without knowing their interests or share the same in any news paper where the editor will cut short or alter the main thought which you wanted to share...

Seems to be difficult task!! Is it? Don’t worry you will come to know about a free web based platform where you can do all the above activity hassle free and publish your thoughts to the world instantly. Curious to know more about it…? The platform is called BLOGS…

Before we move further, let’s watch a video to know more about blog. Please click on following video links

Blogs Blogs in Plain English:
A Brief and Basic Introduction to Blogging:

So the question comes, what is blog and how it is being used?

What is blog?

Blog is a product of www (World Wide Web) technology. The terminology “Blog” has originated from the term ‘web logging’.

Blogs (WeBLOGS) can be defined as a web based plat form for sharing of information in a sequential order where latest entry appears first. The web entries can be considered as online journal or online diary which includes web links and multimedia content such as images and videos (Boulos et al 2006). This type of website can be maintained by an individual or an organization.

You can learn more definitions and terminologies about blogs by clicking following link

Blog Definition(s): 

To know more about the blogs click on following links
Characteristics of a Blog:
7 things you should know about…Blogs

Characteristics of Blogs

Click on following link and go through the “Characteristics of Blogs” section of the PDF file
The Use of Blogs, Wikis and RSS in Education

Empowered with above interesting features, blogs are emerging as a valuable tool of educational technology. Using blogs, education community can create their digital profile, publish their work on web, perform group discussion, provide feedback and work on collaborative assignments.
Educationalists are exploring different ways of integrating the teaching learning process in blogs (Churchill, D. 2009).

Pedagogical Advantages of Blogs

From the above paragraph you can see that blogs are being used in education.
Can you think of; why blogs are being so popular among learning community and why they are attracting the educationalists to explore more of blogs in education?

Let us see some pedagogical advantages of blogs, which make the blogs to embrace by teachers and learners.

Click on following link and go through section “Educational Benefits and uses of Blogs” of the PDF file
The Use of Blogs, Wikis and RSS in Education

To know more about the Educational usages of blogs click on following video link
Blogs in Education

Blogs in Classroom Scenario

Obviously you would be thinking about how the blogs can be used in classroom. Let us explore some of modes, blogs can be used:

Click on following link and go through section “Using the Blog in the Classroom
Using the Blog in the Classroom

To know more about the classroom implications of blogs click on following video link
series/blogs.html Blog Uses and Applications:
(Note: To see the above video you would require downloading QuickTime software)

1. List out 4 features of bogs applicable to teaching and learning process.
2. How the blogs can be used in administrative purpose in educational institute. Describe in 50 words.

Examples of Blogging Sites

There are many educational blogging sites. You will learn about some of the very popular blogging sites and their important features. You can use any of the web sites in your teaching and learning process according to your convenience.

This one is one of most popular blog hosting tool and it is absolutely free (Open Source). This website is hosted by Google and it provides opportunity for integrating web links and updating multimedia contents. You also have the choice to remove your postings, which helps your posts to be advertisement free.

Blogger was created by Pyra Labs and acquired by Google in 2003. Blogger is available in many languages including Indian languages such as Bengali, Hindi, Oriya, Tamil and Telugu. (

To know more about click on

This is open source blogging service provider with huge numbers of users. You are required to just install this free software in your computer and use it. You can set up your layout, color scheme, theme and everything just the way you want it.

In 2003 WordPress initiated with a single string of code and now it is being used by billions of people. Every thing in this service is created by the community and for the community. Integrated with many features and plug-in software, WordPress can host a wide range of content (

To know more about features of, click on following link
Introduction to

Founded by James Farmer in 2005, is world’s most popular education blogging service. It provides three types of services namely Edublogs Free, Pro and Campus. Edublogs Free is specially designed for students and available free. On other hand Edublogs Pro and Campus (paid services) are designed for individual teachers and educational institutes respectively (

To know more about the ways Edublogs can be used click on following video link:
Ten Ways to Use Your Edublog:


Launched in 2003 by SAY Media TypePad is a Blog service available in several languages. TypePAd provides variety of categories of blogs.
TypePAd supports Linked-in application and being used by big corporates (

TypePad is available with three paid versions titled as Plus, Unlimited and Premium.

Microblogging sites

The word ‘Microblogging’; itself explains that it is a blogging with restricted content. Microblogging enables its users to communicate with limited (specified by the service provider) content in from of text and/or audio, video and web links. Different in size from blog posts, messages posted in the microblog are known as microposts.(

To know more about microblogging and its educational use, click on following PDF link
7 things you should know about...Microblogging:

Let us discuss some examples of microblogging sites


This is the most popular microblogging service with real-time information network. Microposts of Twitter are known as ‘Tweets’ with limit of 140 characters. Twitter is available in many languages with facility for mobile integration.

Click on following video links to see Twitter in action:

Twitter in Plain English
Twitter: Yours to discover: 


This is also a microblogging service with almost same features of Twitter. With work limit of 140 characters, you can collaborate with friends, students. You can embed images, sounds, streaming videos and files of different format. You can own your groups which can be open or closed groups and organize quizzes. Interestingly you can import your posts from twitter and blogs (

1. List out 4 features of bogs applicable to teaching and learning process.
2. How the blogs can be used in administrative purpose in educational institute. Describe in 50 words.

Social networking in education- An introduction

Social Networking sites can be defined as web based platform which allows you to create your portfolio and then enable you to search your friends and friends of friends (Boyd & Ellison, 2008).

Click on the following video to learn the concept of Social Networking
Social Networking in Plain English

Click on the following video link to know about What Is Social Media?
What Is Social Media

The above video shows how the social networking is penetrating the every aspect of life. Social networking has also made its prominent place in education world and teaching learning community is exploring the benefits of social media in various ways.

Click on following video link to learn about social networking and its educational uses.

 •Social Networking within the Classroom:

Click on following link to the presentation on ‘Introduction social Media in teaching and learning.

Introduction social Media in teaching and learning:

Educational Advantages of Social Networking

Click on the link below and read the section “Educational value of social networking sites”
Social networking sites and education

The above section describes that Social Networking encourages learning beyond the class room and it is being popular in teaching learning community.

By now you may be curious to know about how these sites are being used in classroom.
Click on the following link to address your query...

Social Networking Goes to School

Examples of Social Networking Sites

There is large number of social networking sites with different features. Some websites are completely free and some are paid. There are websites which are dedicated to particular community like Linked-in (professional networking sites) and Delicious. Let us discuss some of the social networking sites and their features. You can use any of the web sites in your teaching and learning process according to your convenience.

Facebook was invented by a Harvard student, Mark Zuckerberg as ‘Facemash’ in October 2003. In Facemash students’ faces could be compared and commented.

You can visit to know about history and details about Facebook.

Click on following video link to learn about educational uses of Facebook

About Schools on Facebook, the Facebook application for Higher Education

This is specialized social networking site for education. Its features are similar to Facebook; however it is dedicated for teaching learning community. It accommodate all the classroom activity such as assignment postings, feedback by peers, submission of homework, online discussion etc. Teachers can grade the students’ assignments and learners can see the same. Creation of classroom group is possible.

You can visit the following link to know more about practical aspects of Edumpbo.

Click on the following link to see video tutorials on

Edmodo at a glance:
Edmodo In Action

“Elgg is an award-winning open source social networking engine that provides a robust framework on which to build all kinds of social environments, from a campus wide social network for your university, school or college or an internal collaborative platform for your organization through to a brand-building communications tool for your company and its clients” (

Click on following video link to know more about

Getting started with an ELGG social network is a venture based social networking service which works in organizationally owned secured network. Yammer has easy user interface like Facebook and Twitter, however it supports corporate network (

Click on following video link to know more about

Getting Started on Yammer:

Ning is a web based platform for individuals and institutions build customized social networks according to their own requirements. Ning is paid service with three customized plans called ‘MINI”, ‘PLUS’ and ‘PRO’.

Click on following video link to know more about

What is Ning

Founded in 2003 and Headquartered in California, is a social bookmarking service. This website is popular for storing and sharing your favorite webs. Easy to use, you can simply add and stake (categorize) your web links and personalize them with your comment. You can share the above compilation with among your contacts to get their involvement in it.

Delicious has an interesting feature where a new user can bring in his/ her bookmarks from the web browsers ( This site is very popular among teaching learning community, where individuals can share informative webs among others. This site helps in educational resource building.

Click on following video link to know more about Social Bookmarking

Social Bookmarking in Plain English
Social Bookmarking - Delicious

1. Define social networking and list out three social networking sites.
2. Visit and list out its educational features.
3. In what ways social bookmarking can help the teachers? Explain in 50 words.


RSS is abbreviation for ‘Rich Site Summary’ or ‘Real Simple Syndication’. RSS enables users to get the updates of particular web sites, blogs using a service called newsreaders or aggregators. The updates received from these web sites are known as ‘RSS Feed’. Once subscribed for RSS feed from a particular site, Users are no longer required to visit again and again to know the updates of the concern web site. Any information which has been updated on the web site, it will automatically be captured and structured by RSS (Duffy, P. and Bruns, A. 2006).

Click on following video link to know more about RSS

RSS in Plain English

Click on following link to know more about RSS:

What is RSS

Educational Benefits of RSS

Click on following link and go through the “Educational benefits and uses of RSS” section of the PDF file
The Use of Blogs, Wikis and RSS in Education

Examples of RSS

Most of the sites related to blogs, news, social networking, medical websites and customer information provide the RSS link through various service providers. These service providers use software “RSS reader” or “"aggregator" for enabling RSS feed. Let us discuss some examples of RSS.

a. Google Reader

Google Reader is a Web-based ‘feed’ aggregator. Google Reader is completely free of cost and compatible with most browsers. It does not require any installation. Google reader helps the user to save the time in searching for updates and provides all the updates at one location. It helps you to check the latest updates in your news site, article, product and blogs. You can share the same with your connections (

Click on following video link to know more about Google reader:
X3Y Google Reader in Plain English:

b. Bloglines

Bloglines is a web-based news aggregator for reading RSS. Bloglines is also enables its users to subscribe and administer their news feed from interested web sites. With 2 million users, it is the largest news and feed aggregators.
Like Google reader it is free and does not require any software installation. It is compatible with all kind of web based devices and allows its users to personalize their feed (

Click on following video link to know more about Bloglines:
Bloglines Quick Overview


1. What is the purpose of RSS and how it helps the user?
2. List out the software used in RSS.


In this chapter you learned about how social learning tools are becoming the integral part of educational world and facilitating teaching and learning. The focus of our discussion was blogs, social networking and RSS.

Commonalty between all the three tools is that, they all are based on social communication and collaborative learning, which is the core of teaching and learning. Learning is always more when there is motivation, reinforcement, feedback and variety of ways to learn. Significantly blogs, social networking and RSS tools have these features inbuilt.

Blogs enables individuals to express their thoughts, interchange of feedback and ability to think critically. Social networking gives the learner with the feel of part of the community, explore new resources, and create group of people with common interest. RSS provides individuals with real time updates of the knowledge resources.
Collectively these social learning tools bring more interactivity between individuals and enrich them with new ways and resources of learning.