User:Fordn/Books/Blogging for teachers
- 1 Lets Blog
- 2 Reading blogs
- 3 Finding Edubloggers
- 4 Teaching with blogs
This module introduces you to blogging in educational settings. This is a hands on course so get ready to exercise your fingers
What is a blog?
As you watch the video 'Blogging in plain english' think about "Who are the bloggers and who are the audience in educational settings?"
In school settings bloggers could be the children (individually or in groups), the teachers, the principal, the board of trustees, the parents/carers. The audience could be the children, the parents/relatives, other classes/schools in the area, other classes/schools worldwide, other teachers. In tertiary settings bloggers could be the lecturer/researcher, the students, the vice chancellor, the council, heads of school, faculty deans, marketing. The audience could be prospective students, current students, parents/relatives, other lecturers/researchers within and without the institution.
Exactly who is the blogger and who is the audience depends on the purpose of the blog.
- School/class newsletter aimed at parents
- Course news with links to newly published articles aimed at students
- Research news for a consortium of funders, available only to them
- Homework blog, so children can’t forget what they need to do
- Student portfolio for themselves
- Reflective journal by teacher aimed at other teachers
Do you begin to see how you might use a blog?
Still cant see how you would use a blog?
If you need more ideas of how blogs are being used in educational settings have a browse around http://nzedublogs.wikispaces.com/
Go get your blog
In this activity you will create a blog and make your first post.
There are lots of different blogging platforms available on the web. Blogger, WordPress and EduBlogs are free and commonly used by educators. If you will get your students blogging and want to keep things "private" We would recommend Edublogs as they have better controls for teachers in these situations.
Using the resources below to
- create an account,
- create a blog and
- make your first post using one of the following blog services:
Watch & Read
Watch the videos below to assist you in creating your blog.
- Google Blogger quick tour and introductory video tutorial
- WordPress Get Started Tutorial
- Edublogs Introduction and Video
When you have created a blog and make a reflective post about your experience of and rational for creating a blog..
Other blog bits and pieces
Blogs are not just a series of posts. They have a lot more functionality than that.
In this topic we are going to look at the extra facets of blogs that you can choose to use or add.
Here are some common elements you should consider
- Your profile.This tells readers about you. As you will see as you read more and more blogs a profile is as varied as people's personalities. As a teacher you will want this to be professional but still say who you are. Think of your profile as an "About Me" snippet.
- Comments. Do you want to allow comments from others? This can be most helpful if you are after feedback. However be aware that there is also comment spam, so my advice is to never allow commenting by others without moderation. In other words you give the OK to publish the comment. You can also block users in some systems.
- Templates/Themes. This enables you to change the look and feel of your blog.
- Blog rolls. This is a list of other blogs you recommend. Not necessarily called a blog roll.
- Trackback.This shows people who have made a link to your post. You can choose whether to show the trackback or not. Showing trackbacks adds authority to your blog on the basis that for someone to mention it, it must be worth mentioning. This is a bit like citation ranking, the more your article is cited the more highly it is regarded.
- Archives. You can organise your past posts so people can look at posts you have written. Many people organise these by month.
- Categories. You can categorise your posts so then people can pull them up by category. You can often see categories written in the post as "Filed under..."
- Tags. Like Categories, only more refined. You might add a posts to maybe 1 or 2 categories, but you can give your posts lots of tags. Tags can be thought of as being like keywords in journal articles.
- Recent Articles/Comments. Some bloggers provide links to their recent posts/comments on every post, so people can easily navigate there.
- Pages. It might seem a bit odd, but a blog can also have pages. So you can put up more static content that you don't want to get lost as time goes by and you create more and more posts.
- Share. Most bloggers now include a way for readers to easily share posts via social media and indexing sites with one click. So readers can easily share via Facebook, Twitter, Technorati, Delicious etc.
- Go to the help page for where you have created you blog.
- Read up on what's possible and decide what you want to change or install.
- Make the changes and create your blog the way you want it.
This module introduces you to a feed reader, a tool for reading lots of blogs without the need to visit each site individually
What is a Feed Reader? Read
Reading blogs individually on their own web page is OK if you only read a few blogs.
If you read lots of blogs however you would soon get fed up with going to hundreds of pages each day only to discover that many had nothing new on them.
Thankfully blogs, and many other websites, have what is called an RSS feed. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. With RSS we can subscribe to feeds with a tool called a feed reader, which will monitor each site for us as show us new content as it arrives. That way we only have to look in one place - the new stuff comes to us.
Watch this video 'RSS in Plain English' which RSS further.
Using a Feed Reader
So now you know what an RSS feed is let's get using a feed reader.
There are lots of different readers to choose from:
The feed readers listed above are all webservices. An advantage of webservices is that you can login from any computer anywhere in the world and your RSS feed will be current.
If you prefer you can have a desktop reader. Many people like these, but be aware that if you install a desktop reader on different computers they won't be in sync with each other. So if you use a lot of different computers a webbased reader will probably suit you better.
Here are some desktop readers:
- Blogbridge - www.blogbridge.com Windows, Mac OSX and Linux
- RSSOwl - www.rssowl.org Windows, Mac OSX and Linux
- FeedReader - www.feedreader.com Windows
Choose one of the Feed Readers above, create an account or download and install it to your machine. Then using the resourcses listed below to help you subscribe to at least 20 RSS feeds.
- NZ Edublogs
- Google Reader - Tour | Help | Video
- Bloglines - FAQ |Video
- Netvibes - Tour | FAQ | Video
- Blogbridge - FAQ | Getting Started | Videos
- RSSOwl - Help | Overview
- FeedReader - FAQ | Help | Video
In this module we are going to look at how to find other bloggers that are also teachers, or work in education. Educational bloggers are called edubloggers.
Start with what you know
Solutions are often right under people's noses and they don't know it.
In this case start with your colleagues and friends who blog.
- Ask friends/colleagues with an interest in education if they blog, and if they do read their blogs.
- Ask friends/colleagues which edublogs they recommend, and read those.
- Look on the blog rolls of edublogs you already read to see which blogs they suggest. If you like the stuff they write, chances are they also read blogs you’ll like.
- Note other edublogs mentioned in those you already read.
- You might find an edublogger you would never have found otherwise.
- When you attend conferences and meetings ask over coffee which blogs people read, and read those.
- Subscribe to your choosen blogs in your feed reader.
- Read them for a few weeks and if you don't find them useful just unsubscribe. It's a bit like trying out new authors in the library, some your like, some you won't and some you'll absolutely love.
The great and the good
Blogging awards and other rankings are great ways to find great edubloggers.
- The Edublogs awards have been awarded since 2004. You'll remember Edublogs is also a blogging platform. It was an honour to be nominated in 2005 for some research I did with an ex-colleague Lyn Boddington (sadly now deceased) at Lincoln University.
- Dangerously Irrelevant did a posting on the Top 50 P-12 Edublogs? – June 2008 using Technorati’s Authority and Ranking data.
- An old list maybe, but most of the blogs are still going and are still top of the game.
- Social Media Explorer used PostRank to draw up a list of 50 Top EduBlogs in Jan 2009 25 EduBlogs You Simply Don’t Want to Miss! by ZaidLearn, is in a different format on Slideshare
- Subscribe to some of these blogs using a feed reader.
- As before, read them for a few weeks and if you don't find them useful just unsubscribe.
Edublog directories provide lists of edublogs, often self nominated, but still worthy of a look.
You could add your own blog perhaps?
- Australian Edubloggers
- International Edubloggers Directory
- UK & Ireland EduBloggers Directory
- India Edubloggers
- Teacher Lingo
- Subscribe to some of these blogs to your feed reader.
- Read them for a few weeks and if you don't find them useful just unsubscribe.
Search engines & indices
Search engines are a great way to find information on any topic. General ones can be a bit limiting as a search for blogs on teaching will find any pages mentioning those word, not necessarily blogs on teaching.
Edublogs is a Google Beta Custom Search created by Stephen Downs, whose edublog you probably want to add to your list. With this tool you can search for blog posts containing your keywords enabling you to find blogs of interest.
Blog search engines specialise, as the name implies, in indexing blogs. They are not edublog search engines but you will still find edublogs. Just add edublog or education or school or K12 (you get the idea) to you search term(s).
- Use your feed reader to subscribe to some of the blogs you find.
- Read them for a few weeks and if you don't find them useful just unsubscribe.
By now you should have a fair list of edublogs you are following. As you will see they are used for all sorts of purposes. In the next module we are going to look at some of the uses for edublogs.
Teaching with blogs
Why use blogs in education?
This post from Anne Davis of Edublog Insights is probably one of the most commented post on the subject with 215 comments at the time of writing (now that's engagement of your audience)
I quote from her page:
Blogging is educationally sound for teaching students because:
- Blogs provide a space for sharing opinions and learning in order to grow communities of discourse and knowledge — a space where students and teachers can learn from each other.
- Blogs help learners to see knowledge as interconnected as opposed to a set of discrete facts.
- Blogs can give students a totally new perspective on the meaning of voice. As students explore their own learning and thinking and their distinctive voices emerge. Student voices are essential to the conversations we need to have about learning.
- Blogs foster ownership and choice. They help lead us away from students trying to find what the teacher wants in terms of an answer.
- The worldwide audience provides recognition for students that can be quite profound. Students feel more compelled to write when they believe many others may read and respond. It gives them motivation to excel. Students need to be taught skills to foster a contributing audience on their blog.
- The archive feature of blogging records ongoing learning. It facilitates reflection and evaluation. One student told me that he could easily find his thoughts on a matter and he could see how his thinking had changed and why.
- The opportunity for collective and collaborative learning is enormous. Students have the opportunity to read their classmates blogs and those of others. This is not possible in a regular classroom setting.
- Blogging provides the possibility of connecting with experts on the topic students are writing.
- The interactive nature of blogging creates enthusiasm for writing and communication.
- Blogging engages students in conversation and learning.
- Blogging encourages global conversations about learning–conversations not previously possible in our classrooms.
- Blogging provides the opportunity for our students to learn to write for life-long learning.
- Blogging affords us the opportunity to teach responsible public writing. Students can learn about the power of the published word and the responsibilities involved with public writing.
- Add your comment to Anne's post.
- Write your thoughts about this in your own blog.
How to use blogging in education Read
Stephen Downe's is one of the top edubloggers. In one of his blogs "Half An Hour" he wrote
- Begin simply. Most uses of blogs in the classroom began with the instructor using blogs to post class information such as lists of readings and assignment deadlines. This fosters in the teacher a familiarity with the technology and with students a habit of regularly checking the online resource.
- Lead by example. Before requiring students to blog, instructors should lead by example, creating their own blogs and adding links to interesting resources and commentary on class topics. This not only produces a useful source of supplemental information for students, it creates a pattern and sets expectations for when students begin their own blogging.
- Read. Students should begin their entry into blogging by reading other blogs. Teachers should use this practice not only to demonstrate how other people use blogs to support learning but also to foster critical thinking and reading skills. Teaching how to respond to blog posts is as important as creating blog posts.
- Create a context. Like the author facing a blank sheet of paper, a blogger will be perplexed unless given something specific to write about. Have students blog about a current issue, about a specific peice of writing, or some question that comes up in the course.
- Encourage interaction. Blogging should not be a solo activity. Encourage bloggers to read each other’s works and to comment on them. Encouraging students to set up an RSS reader with each other’s blogs will make reading and commenting a lot easier. Teachers, also, should subscribe to student blogs and offer comments, again setting an example of the expected practice.
- Respect ownership. A student blog becomes important because it is a manifestation of his or her own work. However, to have this value, a student’s ownership of a blog must be genuine. While reasonable limits or codes of practice need to be respected, student bloggers should have the widest latitude possible for personal expression and opinion.
- Address issues immediately. The most significant danger to students online is posed by other students. In particular, bullying (or ragging) is a significant problem. It is important to spot instances of bullying as soon as they occur and to take steps to prevent further incidents. Teachers should educate themselves as online bullying can be invisible and hard to address.
- Read the Educause article on Educational Blogging linked to in Downe's post above.
- Create a code of practice for your class.
- Post a copy for comment in your blog.
Ideas for blogging
Here is a list of sites to give you some ideas for using blogs in your teaching.
Browse the sites which interest you.
- Ideas: Using Blogs in the Classroom
- Blog Ideas
- Ten Ways to Use Your Edublog
- Using Blogs to Integrate Technology in the Classroom
- Blogging for Better Communication
- Ideas for Journalism Educators
- Using blogs for educational purposes
Create your action plan
According to BusinessDirectory.com an action plan is a sequence of steps that must be taken, or activities that must be performed well, for a strategy to succeed.
An action plan has three major elements
- Specific tasks: what will be done and by whom.
- Time horizon: when will it be done.
- Resource allocation: what specific funds are available for specific activities.
It is also called an action program.It's your plan to achieve a goal or outcome.
At the end of my courses I always recommend that people plan what they are going to do to embed their new knowledge and skills into their teaching and learning.
Here are some links to sites on action planning:
- How to write an action plan
- Small scale planning
- [http://www.intrahealth.org/tol/intro7.html What is an action plan?
Write your action plan for the steps you are going to take now your have finished this course.
- Keep your plan in a prominent place. Share it with your colleagues to help you achieve it.
- Post your plan in the forum. Is anyone else doing something similar? Why not link up?