Blogging For Beginners Jay Devaughn Director of Library Services Community College of Aurora
What is Blogging and Why Do I Care? • Stands for Web Log (weblog) and is called Blog for short • Easily created, easily updateable Web sites that allow authors to publish instantly to the Internet from any Internet connection. • “A weblog is a coffeehouse conversation intext, with references as required.”-- Rebecca Blood, The Weblog Handbook
Learning the Jargon • Blog – a noun and a verb • Blogger - the author of a blog. • People who post new journal entries to their blog may often say they blogged today, they blogged it to their site, or that they still have to blog.
The writings are called “entries” or “posts,” and generally appear in reverse chronological order Entries of a certain age often disappear and are usually archived. What is a Blog?
Growth of Blogs • In 1999, a company called “Pyra” released “Blogger,” a service that let anyone publish a blog for free by typing in a box in their web browser. • The blog movement started to grow, but September 11, 2001, marked a tipping point. –Scripting News –Kottke.org • Today, there could be as many as 70 million blogs using dozens of blogging products.
Characteristics of a Blog • 1. Usually maintained by one person • 2. Written in a conversational manner • 3. Updated frequently (daily basis) • 4. Provides context by linking to sites on the Internet
Why You Should Care about Blogs 1.They act as information filters to help you handle information overload. • Help you keep current 2.They allow you to easily disseminate your own ideas, thoughts, or information. • Including information related to your life, work, etc. • “Telling Your Story” 3.Networking
Blogs can.… • Filter information • Provide context • Promote media literacy • Provide alternate points of view • Encourage evaluation of information • Encourage participation
Most Blogs… • are comprised of short posts • allow readers to comment on each post • display a calendar or a date list for accessing archives • include a “blogroll” that lists the various sites that particular blogger reads • provide an “RSS feed” that “syndicates” the content and lets you read posts in a separate reader called an “aggregator”
Types of Blogs • Basic- short items about a particular topic • Group- multiple writers contributing items • Family and Friends- planning for family events, sharing experiences • Collaborative- colleagues working on projects • Photo- or audio or video • Community- sharing local news and events • Business- within organizations; sometimes toattract visitors • Knowledge- to manage information in a group
Advantage of blogging • Don’t need to know HTML or any programming language • Can update your site from anywhere • Lets you concentrate on content, not the process
Blogging in Education • Early-adopters are beginning to explore the use of the genre as a teaching/learning tool in educational environments around the world.
Secret Life of Bees • In New Jersey, a high school literature teacher used a blog to facilitate: • Online Discussions • Artistic Interpretations • Research/Links • Author Involvement
Online Discussions • Students were each assigned two posts: • Chapter Summaries • Character Sketches • Artistic Interpretation • Historical Events • Symbols and Themes • Class Discussion Summaries • Choose how many additional comments (of quality) to post: 4 = D, 10 = A
Artistic Interpretation • Chose significant passages in the book • Scanned or digitally produced • Depicted symbolism • Generated discussion
Artistic Interpretation Example
Author Involvement “Dear Students, It is an exceptionally nice honor to have you reading my novel in your Modern American Literature class! I'm extremely impressed with your weblog, which I've been following. What fun for the author to listen in on your discussions and see the wonderful and provocative artistic interpretations that you've created. The experience has opened my eyes to new ideas about my own work!...” --Sue Monk Kidd
Effects of Blogging on Class Participation • Reticent students participated in the discussion: “I have to disagree with Brian's post saying that Rosaleen does stupid things. To Rosaleen I don't think that she believes that her actions are stupid. I think she is just trying to show that you should stand up for yourself even if it involves you getting hurt. In Rosaleen's mind she believed that it was first a lesson to Lily that you should stand up for your principles and Rosaleen stood for the rights of the black people. Secondly she had to stand up to the white men for herself, she needed to show them that they can't just walk all over her and keep her from participating in voting. So overall I don't believe that Rosaleen was acting stupid, irresponsible, or anything of the sort. I think she was standing for her principles and that is something to be looked [well] upon not looked down on. “
Effects of Blogging on Classroom Discussion • Reflection and debate • Portfolio of links and easy access to relevant outside resources • Literature in larger context • Author interaction • Instructor-Student Interaction
Writing before discussion • Helps students think through what they want to talk about • Provides a way to “think aloud on paper” • Captures ideas inspired by what was read.
Writing after discussion • Helps students synthesize the many ideas floating in the air. • Provides multiple interpretations of text.
So… what aboutwriting as discussion • Every “voice” has equal weight. • Introverted students can express their opinions more freely • Barriers disappear. • Can invite thoughtful response.(Putting thoughts in print requires somewhat more thought than just speaking them aloud)
Potentials for Education • Student Learning Logs/Portfolios • Professional Development • Classroom Collaboration • Research Logs with links to sources.
General Classroom Considerations • 1. Software--all weblog software is not the same. Instructors need to find the best tool for intended use, and should think about ease of use, depth of content, collaboration, etc. • 2. Access -- not all students have the same amount of access • 3. Privacy--posts can be accessible by anyone, or can be only viewed locally depending on software. Collaboration and feedback can be limited and moderated depending on software.
Classroom Considerations • 4. Time and Support -- planning and set-up take time, and tech support is required. • 5. Assessment -- what and how.
Finding and Searching Blogs • Weblog specific search engines and/or directories • Feedster http://www.feedster.com/ • Bloogz http://www.bloogz.com/ • Blogstreet http://www.blogstreet.com/ • Bloglines http://www.bloglines.com/
Place to get your blog • Blogger • http://www.blogger.com/start • Xanga • http://www.xanga.com/ • MSN Space • http://spaces.msn.com/ • Blogstream • http://www.blogstream.com/