Blogs: An Overview
Now that you’ve explored Collaborate2Innovate Things and found out all about the program, it’s time to jump right in with Week 1′s topic: Blogs! This post will give you a brief overview of the technology, explain the activities for the week, and provide links to some additional reading for those who would like to know more.
What I hope you will learn after this module:
- What are blogs?
- How to create a blog using WordPress
- How you can use blogs effectively in your library
What is it?
A blog, or weblog, is a format for publishing content on the web. As the name suggests, blogs are, quite simply, web-based logs of information that have the following features in common:
- content is organized in reverse chronological order, with the most recent entry appearing at the top
- dates and timestamps indicate when content was published
- archives are automatically generated by the blog software
- visitors participate in the conversation by leaving comments to blog entries, or posts
Way back in April of 2009, Technorati estimated the existence of over 133 million blogs with an average of 120,000 new blogs being created daily. The number is only growing. It’s likely that many of your colleagues, friends, family members, neighbors, and even their pets already have their own blog. You’ll find blogs written about anything and everything; some are focused on a single subject while other bloggers write about whatever comes to mind. Common blog topics include personal stories or insights, technology, politics, news, entertainment, books, business, hobbies, food, finance, sports, and, of course, libraries!
How can I use it?
Blogs are a great way to connect with your students and staff, keeping them up to date on library happenings. You can use blogs to promote programs, news, events, or literacy materials. Blogs allow you to embed a variety of media, so you can feature video book trailers or even host a virtual book club.
Check out a few of the librarian, library and educator blogs. Here are some of our favorites:
The Handheld Librarian– A great tech-oriented blog with information about tech news, trends, and other things to help expand your library’s technology.
The MHMS Daring School Library Blog– Award-winning school library blog with lots of great ideas for implementing tech in your library or for programming ideas. Also see the Daring Librarian’s Professional Blog for more in-depth school library and tech discussions. Don’t miss her companion wikis, Gadget-a-go-g0 and Web 2.Oh Tools.
Eliterate Librarian– Techie middle school librarian with guest bloggers
21st Century Educational Technology and Learning– award-winning educational tech blog
Blogs in Plain English Video
Still confused about blogs? Watch this video from the Common Craft Show. It should clear things up!
Click this link to watch: http://www.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=12423&title=Blogs_in_Plain_English
Try it out & Reflect!
Ready to start blogging? Set up your own group blog and add your first entry!
- Use WordPress.com to set up your own blog. WordPress is a free, hosted blogging tool where you can set up an account and start a blog in a matter of minutes. If you already have a blog and would like to use it to track your progress during this program, feel free to do so!
- On WordPress, your blog address will be http://nameyouchoose.wordpress.com.
- WordPress.com offers many themes/templates so you can choose one that fits you. Depending on the theme/template you choose, you might also be able to customize the header, sidebar widgets, and more. Take some time to explore the dashboard (i.e., the back-end of the blog) to see what options are available to you.
- For detailed instructions on setting up a WordPress.com account, check out this great FAQ page.
- It’s up to you to decide just how much you will reveal about yourself on your blog, but please provide at least your first name in either your username or profile so the rest of the participants will recognize the author of each post. The title of your blog and your username do not have to reveal your real identity. You can be as creative as you want with this!
- After you have set up the blog, please invite the rest of your group to be users. For more detailed instructions on how to do this, please review the help page listed below. Since you all will be taking turns writing the posts for the blogs, please invite all of the users to be administrators of the blog. http://en.support.wordpress.com/adding-users/
- Once you’ve set up your blog, go ahead and add your first group entry! For your first entry, please introduce everyone in your group and share something interesting or fun, like a favorite childhood game or your favorite current hobby . Or maybe you’ll want to share your favorite blogs (library-related or not) if you’re already a fan.
- *Important – Please write an additional group entry about your thoughts on blogs, blogging, libraries, and your experience setting up the blog. You’ll be asked to write a group reflective blog entry like this for each week.
Once you set up your blog, please post your blog’s information on Participant’s Blog page on Collaborate2Innovate Things with the following information:
- your blog’s user names
- your blog address (URL) and your blog title
Although you will be submitting only one group blog post, feel free to individually leave a comment or question (note: it doesn’t need to be as long as a research paper; 1-3 sentences is fine!) on your group’s blog or on this one. We’d love to know how each of you are progressing! Keep an eye on your own blog, too. If someone comments on your blog, it’s perfectly appropriate to respond with a comment of your own. If people see that you usually respond to comments and questions on your blog, they’re more likely to comment and even come back!
Below is a diagram that will help you learn the basics of writing a new blog post. Click to enlarge.
If you want a safe place to promote your school blog, or have trouble with your school’s IT software blocking certain sites, try Edublogs as an alternative to WordPress or Blogger. It offers a platform for much more than traditional blogging and it’s free (or pretty darn inexpensive if you want additional features)! P.S. It is actually run by WordPress, so the dashboard should be pretty similar!
Further Reading (optional)
- Ten Ways to Use Your Edublog to Teach
- Weblogs (list of librarians’ blogs), LISWiki
- 7 Things You Should Know About Blogs (pdf), Educause Learning Initiative
- Anatomy of a Blog
- Blog, Wikipedia article
- Why and How to Use Blogs to Promote Your Library’s Services, Darlene Fichter
This Learning 2.0 module was originally designed and implemented by students in Dr. Michael Stephens‘ Transformative Literacies class in the Fall of 2012. This class is part of San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science curriculum. It was adapted by Maria Papanastassiou for American School in Japan. It is available for use for other libraries or institutions. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.