Blogtalk: A Practical Introduction to Educational Blogging. Island Pro-D Day, Feb. 17, 06. Working Notes

My apologies to anyone who has read this before. I am not up to reinventing the wheel today… any thoughts, comments, or glaring omissions? Please let me know…

the single biggest problem facing education today is that our Digital Immigrant instructors, who speak an outdated language (that of the pre-digital age), are struggling to teach a population that speaks an entirely new language
(Prensky, “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants,? 2).

The Tip of the Iceberg:
‘Brevity is the Soul of Whit’ (Polonius, Hamlet ).
The irony of Polonius’ statement is that he rambles on after making it.
This being said, I will attempt to be bried (and witty), but will probably end up rambling on. If this very brief introduction to blogging piques your interest, I would suggest you check out some of the ‘recommended reading’ list below, as well as some of the recommended ed-blogs.

What is a Blog?
Some excerpts from a blog entry by the same name:
The term ‘blog’ is short for web log, which is basically a net based website that is organised in chronological format. David Tosh and Ben Werdmuller offer a more precise definition in “EPortfolios and Weblogs: One Vision for ePortfolio Development:?

Ethos of the weblog:
A weblog is defined as any web page with content organised according to date […] Weblogs have enormous strengths as a communication medium. This is in part due to some of the technology underlying them, but it is also related to the ease of publishing. A weblog author can press a button to load their weblog client, type some words into a box, press another button – and it’s posted up for the world to see. This immediacy and ease of use is paralleled only by email, which may go some way to explain weblogs’ increasing popularity. (“Eportfolios,? 3-4)

The arrival of blog technology allows access to those who are not necessarily ‘net literate:’ “[Blogs allow] average users with no technical ability to easily maintain a regularly updated web presence? ( “Learning Landscape,? 4). The implications of this user friendly interface are that they enable efficient and free access to net real estate. If you know how to e-mail, then you can blog. It is really that simple.


Who Uses Blogs? Some Quick Stats.
Technorati , a blog dedicated search engine (we’ll call it the ‘Google’ of blogging), currently monitors 27.9 million blogs and 2 billion links (accessed Feb. 15/06. That is up from 22.4 million blogs and 1.8 billion links in December (accessed Dec. 06/05), an addition of 7.5 million blogs in just over two months. These are blogs that are registered with Technorati, not all blogs.

– “Microsoft announced [April 10, 05] more than 4.5 million spaces (a term for their own weblogs) have been created. That’s 3 million added in about 90 days, since 11 January 2005? ( .

– “80,000 new blogs [are created] every day? (Seth Godin, “Who’s There?? 6).

– In the last U.S. Presidential election, parties used blogs to present their platform and as a propaganda tool ( , accessed Dec 06/05)

– There is now a blog reporter in the White House Press Corps (Source: Time Magazine, Mar. 21, 2005 .

– Reporters for ‘Global News’ riding along on campaign busses in the last Canadian election used blogs, as well as digital phones with photo and video capability and were able to post from these.

– The majority of people using blogs are under the age of 19 (somewhere around 90%).

Harvard ( ) and Stanford ( ) now widely use blogs.

Translation: These are pretty popular…

My Blog Examples:
My own ed-blogging experience (after much cynicism, research, and reading) began by creating a personal blog:
Palimpsest Redux: You can read my thoughts on education and blogging there. You are reading them right now.
I strongly suggest you create your own blog if you are interested in using blogs for the classroom. Doing so will provide you with experience, practice, and insight into how blogging works. It will also provide students with a relevant and personal example of appropriate use.
(ie: not using full names or giving out personal information, appropriate discussion and topics, use of proper grammar and spelling {using a word processor to compose and spell check work prior to posting})

The next step I took was to change my course homepage from a traditional webpage to a blog format:
DCS Literature 12 blog homepage:

My reasons (very briefly) for doing so are as follows:
1. Using a homepage was a great communicative tool for my classes, but I just spent too much time staring at html code and trying to figure out why it didn’t look the way it was supposed to . The switch to a blog homepage was a logical step, and has also greatly increased efficiency in communication. Now I simply write a post or add a link with ease (ie: no coding required, it is done for you).

2. Using a blog as a homepage models appropriate use and provides an opportunity for students to get familiar with the look and feel of a blog. Students can see first hand what a ‘purposeful’ blog is, and also interact with it on a daily basis. This eases students who are not familiar with blogs into familiarity.

3. Connection with a potentially global audience and conversation. This helps deconstruct the walls of the classroom.(see: ).

The next step in this process for me was to introduce a team blog, where students are equal contributors of content.
DCS Lit. 12 Team Blog:

Students post explorations here. This is a group environment, where interaction is free and open, but I have to admit that most of the interaction is between students and myself. Little seems to be done in terms of communication between students unless it is assigned.

My Current Classroom Blogs
Literature 12 home
The Literature Team Blog
English 12 home
Currently, my English 12 students use their own blogs. You can check out their blogs by following the links on the English 12 homepage.

Let’s Get Practical…
Question: Why do I need a blog?
Answer: You don’t…

But with one, communication with students and parents becomes simple and efficient. You can easily (read: cut and paste) post assignments, course updates, reading schedules, etc.

Possible Ideas…
Professional Development – Blogs are a brilliant tool and medium to use for pro.d. I use my own to reflect on teaching, gather research, and construct/ reflect on my own learning. There is also a great community of Ed. professionals out there who are putting up their own ideas and research on their own blogs. See the list of recommended ed-bloggers at the bottom of this document. (Esp. Aaron Nelson’s ‘Teacher in Development’ blog. Pro.D and pro. portfolios are passions of his.

The enigma called a Grad Portfolio Yes, you could do it all under one virtual roof!

Phys-Ed: team updates, press, practice schedules, tournament updates and coverage. You could also send along school reporters to cover tournaments via team blogs
Bible: discussion space, post assignments, have interactive assignments where students post comments and assignments via the net vs. paper. Students can follow and interact with mission workers.

Socials: Connecting with the outside world through following blogs such as “Radio Free Nepal”, reporting and discussing global issues, social justice reporting (see: Reporters Without Borders ( )

Examples of Other Ed-blogs :

Science: ,

Organic Chemistry 11

Phys-Ed: ,Dance:

Social Studies (gr. 6 class):

Social Justice issues: Radio Free Nepal, ,

English and Math:

AP Calculus:

Principal’s Blog:

English: (This novel study occurred online and the teacher actually got the author of the text to drop in and share comments on the blog!)


Library: ,

Art: ,

Home Ec: (for inspiration) : ,

For a more exhaustive list of classroom examples, check out: A master at work. Will Richardson is an Ed-Blogging guru. If you want to be inspired, check out his class blogs that he lists.

The Process of Creation:
A walkthrough of signing up for a blog, logging in, changing its’ look, creating a link, a category, and writing a first post.
Moderating comments: How to.
This will be demonstrated during the meeting using ‘edublogs’. The process is the same for using ‘learnerblogs’.

Note: Blogger lacks the ability to have categories, and simple links. You can link, but you have to know html basics (talk to me if you want to know how– it is pretty simple).

Sign Me Up (free blog resources):

Bloglines is a tremendous tool to help you track blogs and news you follow on the internet. It saves you from running around by bringing all the new entries and news items that you subscribe to into one place. It’s like getting a newspaper every morning with things you want to read in it!

Edublogs–for teaching professionals:

Learnerblogs–for students:

Blogger– a simple blog platform

The I.E. 5.0 problem — If the computer you or your students use to blog with is running Internet Explorer 5.0 or below, then you will not be able to use ‘Edublogs’ and ‘Learnerblogs,’ as posts will not be fully published and will be lost. Blogger may be the solution to this, or upgrading to a more current version of IE (5.5 or above).

Recommended Reading:

Prensky, Mark. “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants? From “On the Horizon? (NCB University Press, Vol. 9 No. 5, October 2001) © 2001 Marc Prensky.

Ganley, Barbara. “BLOGTALK Paper?

Godin, Seth. “Who’s There? Seth Godin’s Incomplete Guide to Blogs and the New Web.? ©2005, Do You Zoom, Inc.

David Tosh and Ben Werdmuller. “Creation of a Learning Landscape: Weblogging and Social Networking in the Context of E-portfolios.? 15/07/2004 . University of Edinburgh, (draft).

McHugh, Josh. “Syncing Up With the IKid.” Edutopia ,Oct. 05.
Siemens, George. It’s Not What it is, it’s What it Enables (

Recommended Ed. Blogs (Blogs as tools for Pro-D and deep thinking):
Will Richardson’s “Web Logg-ed?:

Barbara Ganley’s “Bg Blogging?:

Aaron Nelson’s “Teacher in Development” :

David Warlick’s “2 Cents Worth” :

George Siemens’ “Connectivism Blog” :
Ewan McIntosh’s edu.blogs


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