Blogging 101

7 02 2012

Some call it a communications revolution, others the death of journalism. Love it or hate it, however, blogging is here to stay. Blogs — in the right hands — are important media tools which can provide educators with an organized means of communicating with their students and tracking their development over the duration of a given course. Blogs are even giving traditional educational content management systems a run for their money [see the recent article from The Chronicle of Higher Education at http://chronicle.com/article/Blogs-Instead-of-Blackboard/44412/]

So, just what is a blog? Well, the term itself is actually a contraction of the more archaic term web log, which Dictionary.com defines as: “A website that displays in chronological order the postings by one or more individuals and usually has links to comments on specific postings.”

Entries or posts, are usually displayed in reverse-chronological order, that is the more recent entries first. Blogs are usually identified with a particular theme or author. Many blogs, while beginning primarily as text-based sites, now incorporate video, photographs, and audio, as embedding rich media into blogs has become easier. As Web 2.0 has evolved into the Social Web, microblogging sites like Twitter have also exploded. So, if the whole world’s blogging, why not you?

Below is a step-by-step guide to setting up a blog. Below the guide are some links to blogs maintained by academics who focus on using social media tools in the classroom.

Some Common Blog Providers: WordPress.com | blogger.com | typepad.com | livejournal.com | twitter.com | tumblr.com| posterous.com

STEP 1 Come up with an idea for the blog. This is actually the most difficult part, believe it or not. You need to find a topic which you can maintain over time and keep lively and fresh — both for you and your audience.

STEP 2 Sign up for the blog. You will need to have access to your email when you do this, as you will most likely be sent a confirmation email. By signing up for a blog, you may also comment on many other blogs on that provider.

STEP 3 You are then ready to set up your blog. Customize it as you wish by selecting a template and setting up pages. I use WordPress.com because it allows you to create static pages in addition to posts. Pages are great places to store vital information that is not likely to change much, like the syllabus and course outline. Others find that Tumblr.com is an easier learning curve if you are new to blogging.

STEP 4 You are ready for your first post! Usually it’s a welcome post, explaining what the blog is about and your plans for the future.

STEP 5 You can stick with text-only posts, but what really makes blogging amazing is the ability to add rich media, such as audio, photos, and video. To host your sound and video on WordPress, you generally have to pay, OR you can host the media on another site, such as Blip.tv, Youtube.com, Vimeo.com, and posterous.com, among others. You can also embed photos from your Flickr account. For more info on doing this in WordPress, go to: http://en.support.wordpress.com/

Finally, once you have your blog up and running, you can focus on promotion via various social media outlets.

More Resources:

http://www.bloggingbasics101.com/ http://www.bu.edu/mfeldman/blog/blogging101.html http://technorati.com/blogs/top100 http://weblogtoolscollection.com/archives/2009/04/29/9-ways-to-make-your-wordpress-blog-smart/

ProfHacker is a blog maintained by Jason B. Jones, an associate professor of English at Central Connecticut State University. ProfHacker delivers tips, tutorials, and commentary on pedagogy, productivity, and technology in higher education and may be found at http://www.profhacker.com/

Here’s a sample rubric for evaluating blog entries:

http://www2.uwstout.edu/content/profdev/rubrics/blogrubric.html

OTHER DISCIPLINES:

Journalism
http://www.tavistalks.com/blogs/speak-out 
http://umassjournalismprofs.wordpress.com/

Science:
http://www.fieldofscience.com 

Mathematics:
http://terrytao.wordpress.com/ 

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