What is a blog?
A weblog or "blog" is a web-based journal in which items are posted on a regular basis and displayed in reverse chronological order. It allows the writer or “blogger” to post ideas and thoughts quickly using conversational language for many to read. Each entry includes a link to leave comments. The contents of each blog differ, depending on the interests and style of the author. Some common themes/topics of weblogs include: philosophical musings, news, website links, commentaries, reviews, politics, and current events among others. They range in scale from the writings of one occasional author to the collaboration of a large community of writers commenting on each entry.
Uses of Blogs in EducationEdit
Rationale for BloggingEdit
- Authentic audience for students
- Demonstrate learning and thinking
- Student ownership of product
- Communication with parents/community
- Ed Tech Standards
The number of educational bloggers is growing as teachers and schools are starting to use weblogs as a way to communicate with students and parents, learn with remote collaborators, and manage the knowledge that members of the school community create. In some schools, weblogs are being used by administrators to assist in communicating and collaborating with staff and the community. In others, weblogs are being used to power entire district or school websites, like the one at Lewis Elementary School. Its website features the latest in news and events as gathered from a series of separate weblogs that are linked together using RSS, allowing the school’s website to serve as a timely source of information.
The collaborative feature of weblogs is what has attracted many educators into the fold. The commenting capabilities in many of the blogging software allow for easy peer review for students and teachers, making it a forum for interacting. A classroom can be extended, where discussions are continued and where every student gets an equal voice. It also can bring in the opinions of experts/mentors from outside the classroom, allowing everyone to work together in a joint intellectual effort. One such example is Mr. Richardson’s literature class from two years ago. His class had selected Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees for their Modern American Literature assignment. Will Richardson, an educator and one of the leading advocates of blogging in education, created a weblog to carry on conversations about the book with his students outside of class. Since his school was probably the first in the country to study the novel, he asked the author if she would like to join his students’ online discussion. To their surprise, she did, and the students benefited from it a great deal. In addition, a Weblog was also set up for parents of the students who were interested in the book to hold their own online discussions. (see Will Richardson's video introduction)
The range of uses for weblogs within the realm of education is wide. Librarians use weblogs to share information about resources and to hold conversations about books and literacy. Teachers use weblogs as classroom portals to post handouts, homework assignments, class time and rules, suggested readings, questions, and exercises. Students use weblogs as digital portfolios to store their work, post reviews/feedback to other students’ work, and to continue class discussions outside of class. The new add-on tools such as audio capabilities, photo albums, polling tools, and quizzing capabilities increase its range of uses even more. Overall, weblogs have become a dynamic, flexible tool that is easy to use whether one is creating with it or simply viewing it.
1. How do I create a weblog for myself or my classroom?
- There are a number of possibilities depending on your level of technical expertise and support, the number of weblogs you wish to create, and your budget. The simplest solution is to sign up for a free account at a website like Blogger. For a password-protected blog, there are other options (see #9 below). For a complete listing of blog resources, see the Resources list below.
2. Do I need to know HTML?
- You do not need to know HTML to use most blog software packages. That is one of the main reasons why blogs have been embraced by many users - publishing to the web is as simple as filling in an online form. Read more at Asapy
3. What are the technical and cost issues surrounding weblog implementation?
- A free hosted service is the easiest and quickest way to start. Services like www.blogger.com allow new users to set up an account for free (or a premium version for $35 per year) and begin posting literally in a matter of minutes. Blogger can host the blog, or the user can post to his/her own site.
- If you have access to a server that allows you to run CGI scripts and/or mysql, Movabletype is a robust solution (free for non-commercial, $150 for commercial). Some technical skills are required to configure the blog and database. Installation is also offered for a fee.
- Desktop blog programs are installed on a user's computer, and posts are then uploaded to a host server. Thingamablog is a free program for this purpose. Radio Userland is a program for $35.95, which includes hosting and upgrades for a year.
4. Do you have any tips for how or what to write about?
- See 10 writing tips
5. How does the teacher manage content?
- Through expectation-setting by the classroom teacher, rubrics, acceptable-use policies, and, most of all, the teacher themselves via the blogging software used. Many blogging applications feature "moderation," meaning NOTHING gets published online until the teacher reviews and approves it. We use the free, open-source blogging app Wordpress at our school (I manage the installs on our school webservers); we are very happy. David Warlick's http://classblogmeister.com/ is also excellent, completely free, and includes hosting. Totally simple, plug-and-play classroom blogging, with complete teacher control over EVERYTHING.
6. What content quality guidelines are established?
- Teachers provide exemplars, rubrics, and supporting discussion about assignments - just as they do with regular written work.
7. What other alternatives exist to blogging?
- Plenty, including Discusware (http://www.discusware.com/), traditional forum software (http://www.phpbb.com), and others - but the issue isn't the software, it's how it's used. We've found that kids are really "into" the blogging interface, they love the look and feel of our Wordpress sites, and they love that their work is featured online. We find students re-write constantly to get their best work in. It's a beautiful thing. :)
9. How can I password-protect my blog and insure appropriate use with children?
- If you're looking for a simple, password based solution, I would recommend http://classblogmeister.com/. David Warlick supports this site, and it caters to younger students.
- We've used Wordpress stand alone and wordpress mu for blogs at Collegiate. We figured out how to use the apache pam authentication module to authenticate to our active directory. By editing your 'sites' apache file, you can adjust who has access to the blog via Active Directory group, or by ip address - so internally, everyone has access, but from outside the school, you need to log in. It also allows us to restrict blogs to faculty or specific classes. Great functionality, but complex implementation.
- There is also http://learnerblogs.org which are for student use.
- We have set up a moodle server and will be implementing that as it offers many more features for teachers and is password protected as well.
Examples and Links to Real BlogsEdit
- Here is Will's List of Bookmarks to blogs
- Here is Will's class blog for The Secret Life of Bees
- Check out Will Richardson's book: Blogs, Wikis and Podcasts
Classroom Blogs k-12Edit
- Support Blogging - List of k-12 blogs
- Room 613 Student Blogs - 6th grade social studies
- The Simple Machine Blog - 4th Grade illustrations
- Happy Headlines - Welcome to Miss Higginbothan
- Carmack's Critters - 1st grade
- WebKinz Travels - Kindergarten
- Mr. Huecker's Weblog
- Tom Daccord's Best of History Websites
Blogs of School Heads & PrincipalsEdit
College Course BlogsEdit
- Seton Hall Journalism Class Weblog
- Journalism 1 at HCRHS
- CommWeb Daily
- american studies - This weblog is being used to get students and parents talking about the process of the course not just the content.
Ed-Tech Related Blogs by Independent School EducatorsEdit
- K12-Converge by Jim Heynderickx
- 21apples by arvind s grover
- A Teacher's Life by Lucy Gray
- ncs-tech.org Kevin Jarrett
- Learning Blog by Alex Ragone
- KASSBLOG by Richard Kassissieh
- The Infinite Thinking Machine sponsored by WestEd and Google, contributions by Lucy Gray and other assorted edubloggers
- Multi-faceted Refractions by Vinnie Vrotny
- Linux Laptops by Alex Inman - dedicated to Linux Laptops and Open Source in K-12
Ed-Tech Movers & Shakers BlogsEdit
Schools Using Blogs to Power Their WebsiteEdit
- Lewis Elementary School
- Bryant Elementary School
- Hunterdon Central Regional High School
- From the Desk of Dr. Tyson
- Delano High School
- Butlerville Elementary
- [http://www.emerson.u98.k12.me.us/ Conners Emerson Schoo
- Mrs Britton's Class - A communication tool between Maryland and Michigan.
- NJ-Georgia Connection - A journalism connection between New Jersey and Georgia
- Brandon's Online Magazine - A collection of weblogs and podcasts written by Mr. Mayo's students at Brandon Middle School in Virginia Beach, VA.
- Mustang Times - Student created newspaper featuring: news, current events, reviews, poems, art, comics, sports, and many more.
- Chris Burnett's Class Blog - The Clem 113
- A Look at Bullying - ESL students exploring an issue of consequence
- pingWillauerKayaks - 8th Grade Boatbuilding Expedition
Electronic Filing CabinetsEdit
Professional Learning CommunityEdit
Enhanced Reading ExperienceEdit
(with multimedia / hypertext)
Enhancing Literacy/Language DiscussionsEdit
- The Write Weblog
- The Secret Life of Bees
- Pre-Cal 40S - (secondary math weblog) An interactive log for satudents and parents
- Awesome Readers and Writers
- Idioms Are Fun!
- a list of ideas to get kids blogging: http://www.teachersfirst.com/content/blog/blogideas2.cfm
Free Online Blogging ServicesEdit
- Blogger Google's blogging service. Free hosting or publish to your own FTP server. Simple WYSIWYG interface. Must access the blogger.com website to post to blog. Multiple blogs and multiple authors supported.
- BlogLines Primarily a web-based blog reader, but also has a blogging component.
- EduBlog offers free blogging service to educators, and also includes free wikispaces.
- BlogMeister is a free blogging tool for schools created by David Warlick. It allows the teacher to approve all posts/comments before they can appear on the web.
- Userland Manila Web-based application tool to create and manage websites, weblogs, wikis and collaboration portals.
Free Blogging SoftwareEdit
- Thingamablog is a free software package that saves your entries locally but then publishes to your web site. Your site does not need to have mySQL or any other special software, you just need account access.
- WordPress WordPress 2.0 is a software package that you can install on your web server. It has a lot of good features. Multiple authors, roles, antispam protection, linkrolls, drop-in themes and customizable themes. One of the most popular blog engines on the web. Open source, runs on PHP/MySQL.
- Moveable Type is a software package that you can install on your web server. It is a weblog publishing platform for businesses, organizations, developers, and web designers.
- b2evolution Free, open source, PHP/MySQL-based blog engine with many features including multiple blogs, multiple users/authors, antispam protection, categories, xhtml compliance. See official features list.
- KidzLog Blogging software designed for younger children.
- Expression Engine Core is a software package that you can install on your web server. They provide a version free for non-profit use with no support called Expression Engine Core, and have a fully support commercial option as well, called PMachine PRO.
- Nucleus CMS is a software package that you can install on your web server. Fully-featured blog package includes: multi-blog, multiple authors, categories. Runs on PHP/MySQL. Open source and free. Lots of plugins available.
- Mac OS X Server 10.4 comes with Weblog Server software built in. It is based on Blojsom and supports calendar-based navigation, user and group blogs and HTML, RSS, RSS2, RDF or ATOM protocols. It is easy to use and set up. If you already have an OS X server going, it's worth trying out.
Commercial Blogging ServicesEdit
- 21publish Support a central "page" for a blogging community. They have a free version that includes adds.
- LiveJournal They also have a free option.
- Wikibooks hosts a free wiki textbook "Weblogs: An Introduction" that gives a thorough overview of blogs, how they work, and how they can be used.
ED-TECH and ISED List-Serv Archives
Downes, S. (2004, September). Educational blogging. Educause Review. Retrieved March 2, 2006, from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0450.pdf
Lackner, M. (2005, February). Weblogs in education: instructional uses of weblogs. Retrieved April 12, 2006, from http://web.archive.org/20050316115133/mustangblog.typepad.com/educationalweblogs/instructional_uses_of_weblogs/index.html
Lohnes, S. (2003). Weblogs in education: bringing the world to the liberal arts classroom. The Newsletter of the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education. Retrieved March 2, 2006, from http://newsletter.nitle.org/v2_n1_winter2003/features_weblogs.php
Richardson, W. (2004, January). Blogging and RSS – the “what’s it?” and “how to” of powerful new web tools for educators. Information Today. Retrieved March 2, 2006, from http://www.infotoday.com/MMSchools/jan04/richardson.shtml
Richardson, W. (2006).Weblogg-Ed - The read/write web in the classroom: FAQ. Retrieved March 26, 2006, from http://www.weblogg-ed.com/stories/storyReader$414#what4
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