Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Ultimate Guide to The Use of Blogs in Teaching

Blogging is one of the eventual realization of web 2.0 technologies. It is the driving engine behind this online information revolution. Thousands of blogs are created everyday and for different purposes. Some people blog to make money, some to share their voice with the world, some to immortalize their life events and diaries, and others blog for trolling purposes.

The tremendous ease of use of a blog has made it a web tool of great potential in education. From 2005 up to this moment, thousands of educational blogs have seen the light and educators from all around the globe have been experiencing with this medium in their teaching.In this regard, I deemed it important to pause for a while and create an easy and simple guide to remind you ( in case you are an experienced blogger ) and walk the new teachers ( excited about how to use blogs in their classroom ) through the different procedures and pedagogical implications behind the use of blogs in education. I am very much hoping that this guide is not like  any other guide you would find online but a real summary and fruitful addition to the load of information written on this topic.

Let me provide you first with the outline of this paper :

1- What is Blogging ?
2- Difference between A Blog and a Website
3- Free Blogging Platforms for Teachers and Students
4- How to set up a blog
5-Things to Pay Heed to when Setting up a Classroom  Blog
6- Blogging Tips for Teachers
7- Advantages of Blogging in Education
8- Ways Teachers Can Use Blogs in their Classrooms
9- Examples of Successful Student, Class, and Teacher Blogs


1- What is a blog ?
" A blog is a personal website that contains content organized like a journal or a diary. Each entry is dated, and the entries are displayed on the web page in reverse chronological order, so that the most recent entry is posted at the top. Readers catch up with blogs by starting at the top and reading down until they encounter material they’ve already read. "

1- Difference between a blog and a website
Many students and some teachers still can not draw a clear border between a blog and a website. Yes a blog is, in effect, a kind of a website organized by time and is the equivalent of a diary.It  is like a digital magazine  fuelled by fresh content to engage audience . The idea of content refreshment is in fact one of the major differences that sets a blog from a website. The content of a website remains mostly the same. Though the webmaster could add additional pages to the website to increase the content, but the order by which the information is presented could not be later changed.. In blogs, there are posts, like the one you are reading now. Each post has its static page ( its own URL ), but the main page of the blog is dedicated to the series of later posts in reverse-chronological ( latest to oldest ) order. As for form, a blog has certain characteristics that a website does not such as : short posts, follower widgets, and commenting system . However, as a teacher here is what you need to keep in mind about a blog :
  • It is a form of a website
  • It is updated so often
  • Its articles appear in reverse-chronological  order
  • It is frequently crawled by search engines
  • It covers a wide variety of articles
  • It is easily set up
3- Free Blogging platforms for teachers and students :
Now that you have an idea about what a blog is all about, here is a list of some of the best platforms to start with. Due to space constraints, I will only cite the four popular platforms but you can check out the rest of the free blogging platforms for teachers and students in the presentation embedded below.

A- Edublogs
The world's most popular educational blogging service, Edublogs lets you easily create and manage student and teacher blogs, quickly customize and include videos.


B- Blogger
This is a free weblog publishing tool from Google, for sharing text, photos and video. This is probably the most user friendly blogging platform out there. You can set up as many blogs as you want and right from your Google account.


C- Wordpress
This is another great blogging platform for students and teachers and is very easy to use and completely free.

Check out the complete list of free blogging platforms for both teachers and students in my presentation below :


4- How to set up a blog
It depends on the kind of blogging platform you are going to use but generally speaking, the process is very easy and takes only a couple of minutes. Here are some  tutorials : How to set up a blog on Edublog How to set up a blog on Blogger How to set up a blog on Wordpress.

5- Things to pay heed to when setting up a classroom blog
  • Choose an appropriate blogging platform for your situation
  • Understand why and how you will use it in your class
  • Understand the features you and your students will need to use
  • Set up your students accounts
  • Know what to do when students forget their log in information and keep that info safe
  • Make sure that all of your students will have fair and equal access to computers to get the job done
  • Let parents and guardians know what you are doing
  • Set the rules for students
  • Create a code of ethics.
6-  Blogging Tips for teachers
Now that you have considered using blogs with your students, here are some tips to keep in your mind before you get started :
  • Choose the easiest platform for you and your students and one with which you are familiar. Chances are your students might already have blogs, ask them which platform they like and use it for your classroom.
  •  Ask for parents permission
  • Teach students about online safety. Check out this article for resources
  • Teach students how to comment properly.
  • Posts should always be short and informative. It is better to start with an introduction of themselves and get them to write comments on each others posts.
  • Use simple language and correct grammatical structures
  • Invite parents to contribute in your class blog and get them to comment too
  • If you have blogs of other classes or you know of similar blogs then get them connected and let students build their communities
  • Give students some freedom to explore the blog
  • Don't grade. Blogging is meant to be a way to practice writing for an audience and learning to respond to critique, not a graded paper.
  • Challenge students. Use activities and games and inspire your students to write about certain topics
  • Give it more time. If you think all students would straight away fall in love with  your classroom blog then you are wrong. Some students  take to it right away, others are  not so sure, and yet they will all end up loving it.
7- Benefits of blogging in education
Here are some of the main reasons why teachers and educators should consider blogging as an educational medium :
  • Students enjoy blogging
  • Blogging enhances literacy skills
  • Using a blog makes learning independent of time  and place
  • It gets students engaged and boost their motivation
  • It promotes their communication skills
  • Just like other asynchronous media, blogs give time to students to reflect
  • It makes teaching students oriented
  • It emphasizes the " test and learn" and " learning by doing" strategies instead of " plan and execute " ones
  • It fosters the learning bonds between teachers and students
  • It gives a chance to shy students to participate with their peers and get their voice heard
  • It keeps parents updated about their kids progress
  • It enhances home-school links
  • It gives students a genuine and potentially worldwide audience for their work.
  • Blogging gives students ownership over their own learning and an authentic voice allowing them to articulate their needs and inform their learning.
  • It contributes to identity-formation in students
  • Blogging  helps teachers develop professionally
  • It fosters the development of writing and research skills as well as digital skills.
8- Ways to use blogs in your classroom
Here are some ways on how teachers can use blogs in their classrooms:
  • Provide further assignments for students to work on
  • Have students work in small groups to write and post summaries of content covered in class to build a compendium for content covered over a semester
  • Get students to do their writing assignments in the form of blog posts
  • Encourage students to post comments on each others postings
  • Use blogs for peer learning. Get students to read their colleagues writings and underline spelling and grammatical mistakes
  • Use blogs for classroom projects where students can include videos, clips, audio,, text and images
  • Teachers can create a specific section just for website links and references to other interesting content online.
  • Use activities, games, puzzles to enrich students learning experiences
  • Use blogs to conduct an online survey in relation to your students learning needs. You can also include parents in the surveys. Check out these free survey tools for teachers.
  • Post  your classroom guidelines and code of conduct on your classroom blog for students to review
  • Publish a list of the objectives ( general as well as specific goals )
  • Challenge your students to write, record and post tutorials about certain concepts of things you teach them
  • Use a section in your blog for classroom news where to communicate the general classroom news. Work with students to identify the kinds of information they would like to share with their parents, then engage them in writing and posting daily or weekly news updates
  • Post weekly challenges such as a riddle or brainteaser that requires your students to think creatively and critically.  Ask students to post their answers on the blog then discuss the solutions with the whole class at the end of the week. This will tremendously improve their problem-solving skills
  • Again use your blog as a communicative tool both with your students and their parents.
9- Examples of successful blogs

 Here are some examples of some of the best blogs nominated for Edublogs awards for the year 2011.
Webliography :
 1- Blogs in Education 2- Connecting through blogs 3- 11 advantages of using blogs for teachers 4- Moderating and ethics for the classroom instructional blog 5- Should all learning professionals be blogging 6- Resourcing the curriculum 7- 14 Steps to meaningful students blogging 8- 15 Awesome ways to use blogs in your classroom 9- My 17 point check-list for teaching good writing and blogging 10- How to set up a classroom blog: ten essential steps 11- Educational Blogging 12- A List of the best tools for teachers to create blogs for their students

5 comments:

  1. Your information has definitely inspired me to get started on this - something I've been considering for quite some time. Thank you for the great information!

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  2. Thanks for this useful overview of blogging in classrooms. I've linked it as a resource in an account of new media citizenship for STEM educators that I've started to assemble at http://techleaders.michianastem.org/Roadmap.

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  3. Thank you so much for all of the information shared!!!

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  4. Thank you jacqui, Yara and Tom for your feedback.

    ReplyDelete