1. What is a blog?

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Meg’s PressGO! objectives

  1. To identify the structural characteristics of blogs.
  2. To compare the functionality of at least two different types of blogging software.

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Your PressGO! objectives

What are you hoping to learn from this module? Your objectives can be the same as mine, but is there anything else you are expecting to learn? Write it down (or, better still, blog it! Don’t worry — we can set up a blog for you at the end of the module …) or discuss with a partner or small group in the class.

Blog it here.

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Introduction

Blogs are one of the most powerful Web 2.0 applications to have arisen in recent years and they are starting to really make an impact on education because of the engagement and reflection they encourage amongst students. They also enhance the student learning experience by encouraging deep rather than surface approaches to learning. This module introduces you to blogging basics. In this module you will learn:

  • Blogging basics.
  • How to find a suitable blog host.

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Focus questions: What do you know about blogs?

What do you know about blogs? In what context have you heard them discussed? (On the radio? Your kids or workmates have mentioned them? Maybe you know someone who blogs …) Have you ever read a blog? Why do people blog? What do you need to know more about? Write down your experiences, discuss with a partner or small group in the class, or blog it!

Blog it here.

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Blogs: the basics

A blog is simply a website. Bloggers typically write short ‘posts‘ on a topic, and readers make comments on those posts. This is what makes blogs a ‘Web 2.0’ technology: the ability for writers and readers to participate directly in the conversation.

 

A blog can

  • Be professional or personal.
  • Have single or multiple authors.
  • Be open to the public or only viewable to those who you invite.

 

Most blog are structured like this:

  • Newest material is shown at the top of the blog.
  • Posts can include any amount of interactive media, including links, photos, video, audio and graphics.
  • Posts are also ‘tagged‘ (meaning that authors give them multiple keywords so that they can be retrieved later on) and archived.

 

There are many blogging software sites that will allow you to set up a blog for free. Some of the most popular are WordPress, Blogger, and Moveable Type. All you need to do to get a blog is to sign up with a blogging site by creating a username and password. You could be blogging in 30 seconds from now!

 

Blogs are

  • Flexible.
  • Dynamic.
  • Responsive.
  • Dead easy to set up.
  • Dead easy to use.
  • Customisable.

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Finding a suitable blog host

When introducing students to online spaces, DET Victoria (Word) recommends that you consider the following:

  • Is the site age appropriate?
  • Does the site provide a privacy statement?
  • Does the site provide support – for example does it have a FAQ section and an email address for assistance with problems?
  • Are the services offered by the site appropriate for readers of your posting to use?
  • Are there are any costs associated with creating and maintaining your participation on the site?
  • Is there advice about how you can remove any information posted and how quickly that can occur?

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Exercise: Compare blogging sites

Visit at least two different blogging sites (or, better still, register with them (next module) — it will make the exercise easier). Explore the functionality of each (e.g., WordPress, Blogger, Moveable Type), especially noting

  • What sort of support is provided? FAQs? Forums?
  • Can you moderate comments?
  • Can you remove posted information quickly?
  • What are the conditions of use of the blog?
  • Can you customise the look of the blog?
  • Can you add widgets?
  • Can the blog have multiple authors?
  • How much space is your blog allocated?
  • Are there any ongoing or hidden costs?
  • Can you set up static pages?
  • What are the privacy options?
  • Can you delete the blog?

Write down your discoveries, discuss with a partner or small group in the class, or blog your comparisons.

Blog it here.

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A note on Meg’s PressGO! website

Blogging software such as WordPress is extremely powerful and allows you to set things up just as you want. For example, ‘PressGO!’ (the website you’re looking at right now) is simply a blog that I’ve customised to suit my own needs. Instead of visitors going straight to the ‘blog’ part of the site, I’ve organised it so that they first see a static page. Then, they can choose to visit other static pages (by navigating using the right-hand menu), or they can click on links, or they read my blog posts according to categories or tags. So here, and with my personal website MeganPoore.com, I’ve simply used free WordPress blogging software to set up a website how I want!

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Reflection

Write down your thoughts, discuss with a partner or small group in the class, or blog it!

  • What have I learnt?
  • What is still unclear?
  • What do I need to follow up on?
  • Where to from here?
  • What other stuff I have read or accessed to help me make sense of it all?

Blog it here.

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Links and resources

WordPress

Blogger

Moveable Type

Blog software comparison site

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