What is blogging?
A combination of the words web and log, this popular form of written communication today used to be called a weblog. The word was quickly shortened to blog. A vehicle for self-expression and identity, a blog is similar to an online journal however some owners use blogs as a personal website. Because blogs can be published on the web, they form a vehicle for connecting with others and sharing of information. They have changed the landscape in news reporting making information instantaneously available.
Blogs belong to a larger group of applications called "social software" which enables people to rendezvous and connect via technology. This specialized group of software is designed to engage people in knowledge sharing, reflection and debate, encouraging networking and collaboration. Other technologies in this group include wikis, Twitter and peer-to-peer networking tools such as Facebook.
How does a blog work?
Whether the blog exists on a special web site dedicated to that purpose such as wordpress.com or lives within a course management system, the blog works the same way. The owner posts commentary to the blog using a text editor. Within that editor, there exists the ability to link to supporting web resources, upload associated images and videos. The reader often, but not always, has the opportunity to respond, fostering discussion and the exchange of ideas and opinions. Posts are traditionally chronological.
Depending on the hosting software, the appearance of the blog can be customized to reflect the personality of the writer. This can be done through the use of template styles offered on the hosting side or the owner can create their own format if they know html or the scripting background language. This ability to customize the look of the blog allows for a more constant formation of identity and the creation of a personal space. Combined with the thoughts of the author, their look and feel often mirrors the personality of the author.
What educational advantages are there to using a blog?
- foster critical thinking offering questioning and analysis
- enables and encourages connection of information and people, offering the opportunity to then reflect on these connections
- support the theory of collaborative learning by the opportunity to exchange information
- demonstrate growth over time since they are chronological
- help develop persuasive writing skills
- give students a sense of ownership and responsibility
- support information literacy
- encourage useful information foraging
- be used to support community research and connect to others with similar interests
- encourage non-linear thought through the use of hyperlinks and shows connections between pieces of information
- records accomplishments and challenges
- promote creativity and celebrate differences
What do blogs not do well?
Blogs do not support:
- discussion between a number of students
- topic organization ...a blog is chronological in nature unless a special blogs are created for special topics
Example of blogs:
Blogs can reflect the personality of the author depending on the capability of the software. The first example shows a blog in a Blackboard course shell and is available for reading only within the course. The second example is a blog that is public, customized from a template available from the blog service where it resides.
Types of Blogging:
- Video blogging
- Photo Blogging
- Mobile Blogging
- Audio Blogging
- How are blogs different than a discussion board?
Content in a blog is collected in one space as opposed to a discussion board. This gives a sense of ownership and responsibility and can show growth over time either in writing skill or critical thinking. In a discussion board, posts by students are spread throughout the threads and one does not get the same sense of student identity and personality.
- How can I decide if I should have my students create an outside blog or use a blog inside of a content management system?
There are a couple of reasons to use an "outside" blogging tool such as wordpress.com. Usually these tools offer sophisticated editing and comment features. They are a perfect tool to use if you want your students to connect with other individuals outside of the class to support research or social causes. The disadvantage of using an outside tool is that it is truly public. There are many ways to prevent unwanted comments from being posted but remember, the purpose is to promote global communication, collaboration and discourse.
Outside blogs to consider
So many choices! How does one decide what type of blog tool to use?
There are two basic considerations:
- Will there be one author or many?
- Does the blog need to be "private" or "public"?
The answer depends on your educational objectives.
If the material students are writing about is confidential in nature, best to use a blog tool that is private. For example, if you would like students to reflect on their experiences in a clinical internship, because of HIPAA regulations, the Blackboard Private Journal would be an excellent choice. This journal resides in a Blackboard course so only those students enrolled in the course have authoring and viewing access. This journal tool best supports one author for private reflection. Consider the Blackboard Blog tool if you are looking for a blog to support one to many authors.
However, if your objective is for your students to contribute to the overall professional community in a discipline, one of the free outside blog websites is a better choice. If all your students are going to contribute to the same outside blog, then the Seton Hall Supported Wordpress service is an option.
Seton Hall Supported Blog
The Teaching, Learning and Technology Center offers a blog service, powered by Wordpress, to the Seton Hall faculty. This blog exists outside of Blackboard and is viewable to the public. If you are interested in finding out more about this service or want to request a blog please visit Blogs by TLT Center (http://blogs.shu.edu/) or contact Michael Soupios at x2157.
For more information on how to create and use a blog in Blackboard, click on the appropriate tutorial below:
Blackboard Journal Tool
Blackboard Blog Tool
Resources and Interesting Blogs