Educational Blogging... or Edublogging

Why Blog?

#1 - "Whoever is doing most of the talking or most of the typing is doing most of the learning (and the more people listening the better)."

Blogging lets you and your students have written discussions and online communications. These discussions can be private or publicly available and can be archived for future use. When students know that others will read their work, they do better work. When students know that others can learn from their work, they do better work.

Blogs are also amongst the easiest ways to publish a classroom and student work. You can post a syllabus, class expectations, and all sorts of other content without registering a domain name or learning HTML.

Blogging can be used in any number of ways. It can be used to form a discussion forum, post short current events articles and invite students' thoughts, foster communication among multiple classes, serve as a log of student progress on a research assignment, post photos and homework assignments online, and much more. See "Ten Things to do with Your Blog" below for more ideas.

Choices for Blogging Sites:

Blogger
Probably the largest blogging site on the Internet and owned by Google.

Pros:

  • Free
  • Simple interface (resembles word processing)
  • Quick and easy to get started
  • Extremely stable network
  • Create multiple blogs from one account
  • Many "gadgets" that add interactivity and special feature: polls, calendar, video, links list and more
  • Students likely familiar with the tools layout
  • Mobile setup available to post from a smartphone

Cons:

  • Requires a Google account
  • "Next" link at top of blog leads to random blog and potentially inappropriate content. ("Next" link can be disabled using script.)
  • Can add image files and video files, but not audio files.
  • No educator outreach.

Posterous
A fast and easy to use blogging platform that allows posting via email.

Pros:

  • Easy to setup
  • Publish posts by emailing to the blog
  • Multiple publishers are easily added
  • Any content emailed to blog will be automatically embedded: attached documents, links to YouTube videos, images, attached presentations
  • Multiple design templates available
  • iPhone application to post from a mobile device

Cons:

  • No Educational outreach
  • Stripped down appearance: no gadgets, polls or calendars available

Edublogs
A free blogging site, powered by Wordpress (another recommended blogging tool), with sites pre-set for educational blogging.

Pros:

  • Free
  • Simple interface
  • The ability to create simple web pages along with your blog for syllabi, course expectations, etc.
  • A handy set of tutorials on the home page
  • Can quickly set up multiple blogs with the same template
  • Easy to manage student accounts
  • Educational outreach

Cons:

  • Added features can cost money. There are both Pro and Campus licensing options available.
  • Can't upload audio files.

Typepad
Unlike other blogging sites, Typepad is not a free service. There is a monthly fee associated with the accounts.

Pros:

  • Professional templates and tools
  • You can upload any type of file - Word documents, PowerPoints, Sound files, etc.
  • Easily downloaded from the page.

Cons:

  • Subscription based service
  • Somewhat more complicated interface
  • No educator outreach

See also: Blogmeister, a blog framework designed specifically for education.

Blog Protocol and Privacy Issues

Students will be posting work to the Internet and must be cognizant of proper Internet protocol, and just plain decency! Students should be advised to never publish a personal attack and to never be unduly critical or harsh in tone or content. They should be encouraged to use the comments option to praise their peer's work, to ask questions, and to point out what they found particularly informative, or engaging in a blog post. That being said, blogs can be used as a means of debate, and often students with opposing view points may blog on a particular issue. Thus, it is not uncommon for students to criticize each other's arguments via their blogs. However, argumentation should be undertaken in a spirit of constructive criticism and in an effort to sharpen analytical thinking.

Try to avoid publishing student last names. The Web by nature is public and as teachers and administrators we should not reveal the identity of our students online to strangers. Instruct students not to include their last name in posts or comments. Most blogging platforms allow the name of the person creating the blog and the name that appears as the publisher of posts to be different.

Ten Things to Do With Your Blogs:

  1. Post a homework question
    • Each student writes a one paragraph response
    • Read a few before class to see what your students think about the reading
  2. Invite outsiders to comment on student work
    • If you know the author of a book you are reading, have students write beedback and invite the author to read the blog post, comment and respond
  3. Have students from another classroom or school comment on your student's work
  4. Have students post discussion questions for tomorrow's class
    • This is great when you know you won't have time to plan
    • If you know that you've flubbed a class and students are confused, have them post questions about things they don't understand
  5. Have students post drafts for peer editing
    • While email is probably better for 1-1 peer editing, blogs are a great opportunity for multiple people to comment on a single piece of work
  6. Post your lecture notes or a summary of the day's class
    • You can make one student per day responsible for posting the class notes. Either by type them as a comment or by taking a picture of their notebook or dry erase board.
    • The rotating student option is great for classes where you want students to focus on the discussion and not hav to worry about taking notes.
  7. Post the daily homework assignment
    • Embed or link to any images, video or assignments you used that day in class.
    • This is a great option to enhance communication between school and parents.
  8. Post links to supplementary materials from the internet
    • Author bios or websites
    • Links to book reviews
    • Links to relevant news articles
  9. Create new blogs for team projects
    • Students can post their work to the blog so that others can see what they are doing. They can also comment on each other's work.
    • If faculty are trying to work as a team or core group, use a blog to communicate with each other about lessons, etc.
  10. For an independent study, have students create their own blog
    • Have students post an outline of their week's work before the regularly scheduled weekly meeting.
  11. Have students role play on their blog
    • For example, when studying the American Revolution, have some students blog about the revolution as Colonists, others as Loyalist or British. Then have students read each other's blogs and leave comments based on their role playing perspective.

Classroom Blogging Examples

EdTechTeacher Video Tutorial on Class Blogging Examples

Blogger Tutorial

Posterous Tutorial

Edublogs Tutorial

History Classroom Blogs

U.S. History -- Mr. Daccord
In Tom Daccord's classroom blog, you can see the questions that he has posed to his students. In his student's blog, you can see the response. Both blogs have links to everyone in the class, to facilitate discussion and collaboration.

"A Day in the Life of a Hobo"
Tom Daccord's creative writing/historical simulation activity calls on students to research the plight of homeless teenagers during the Great Depression and then create their own fictionalized account of a day in the life of a Hobo. Students post their story on their blog such as this one. At the bottom of this post is a link to a radio show podcast Tom's students created based on the assignment.

Middle East collaborative project
A blog that Justin Reich used for a specific collaborative project- a simulation about the Middle East peace process.

Holocaust Responsibility Blog
A Posterous blog from two high school classes in Massachussetts and Illinois that discussed and debated responsibility for the holocause through a Skype call and then posted and commented on individual discussions on the collaborative class blog.

"The Greatest Middle School Social Studies Blog in the World"
A blog from Paul Bogush's middle school social studies classroom in Connecticut.

"Period 1 Mr. M."
One of several classroom blogs from Chris Miragila's middle school classes. Teacher and students use respective class blogs to post information and reflections.

Eighth-grade history South Valley Junior High School
Edutopia article that explains how teacher Eric Langhorst set up a classroom blog to use as an online book group.

A student independent project blog

History Teacher Blogs

History 2.0 Classroom
Plymouth Massachusetts History teacher Greg Kulowiec blogs about his history classroom and his various technology-integration tools and activities.

History Tech
History teacher Glen Wiebe blogs about technology integration and other topis at this blog.

Speaking of History
8th grade history teacher, Eric Longhorst, blogs about education, technology, and history.

Andrew B. Watt's Blog
This history teacher in northeast Connecticut blogs about technology and teaching history.

Teachinghistory.org
Kyle Smith teaches high school history in Wisconsin and blogs about history and teaching history.

Blogush
Paul Bogush is a middle school social studies teacher in Connecticut who integrates a blog, wiki, podcast, and other Web 2.0 tools into his teaching.

Nebraska Change Agent
Beth Still is a social studies tech-integrationist who blogs about teaching, learning, and technology.

HisTeched: Musings in US History and Education
Middle school teacher Chris Miragila shares some ideas for teaching history.

History is Elementary
An Elementary History Teacher in Georgia blogs about history and history education.

An American Studies: Perilous Times
An American Studies is authored by two humanities teachers in Illinois who blog about American Studies issues.

See also:

 

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