Blogs (from web logs)
An easy-to-update web site publishing tool ideal for online journals, diaries, portfolios and web communities. Can include text, audio, video and “feeds” from other blogs.
Webliography and reflections about flexible learning models for 15–19 year olds, and the role of technology.
|Source||An annotated webliography and reflections about flexible learning models for 15-19 year olds, and the role of technology. Produced by Janie Bowes, Flexible Learning Leader, 2004.|
|Use||The VET sector.|
|Delivery||Not directly tied to delivery. Standard web browser.|
|Customisation||Blogs are very easy to set up and update without the need for specialised software|
|Availablity||Similar software is readily and freely available|
A series of collective blogs following various scientists during a mission to the Antarctica
|Source||Sea Ice Physics and Ecosystem Experiment|
|Use||A number of scientists kept blogs during their voyage in the sea ice zone of Antarctica aboard Aurora Australis.|
|Delivery||Blogs allow for frequent updates and often use an informal style and tone. Needs a standard web browser.|
|Customisation||Blogs are very easy to update without the need for specialised software|
|Availabilty||Similar software is readily and freely available|
An example of a session delivered in the Elluminate platform. You will need to join the Learning Times in order to view these archives.
You can listen to and view a recording of an international live interview with Alan Levine of Maricopa Community College and Garry Putland of EdNA Online (Australia). Michael Chalk (Australia) conducted the interview, supported by Learning Times member Michael Coghlan.
|Source||Elluminate session delivered within the Learning Times|
|Use||This particular session was delivered to VET teachers however the approach and technologies are applicable to most teaching areas.|
|Delivery||Elluminate requires a moderate level of skills from the teacher and the participants. Elluminate is quite an expensive platform for individual organisations to purchase. Within organisations there can be firewall issues which prevent the use of this technology. The individual user needs access to microphone and headphones.|
|Customisation||This session cannot be modified however this example allows you to see the functionality of the platform.|
|Availabiilty||Various state and national bodies are investigating the options of hosting a shared platform for the use of the Australian VET sector|
Central information sharing for Teachers and Trainers across NSW during Learnscope activities and projects.
|Source||NSW LearnScope Blog and Podcast|
|Use||Central information sharing for Teachers and Trainers across NSW during Learnscope activities and projects.|
|Delivery||Blogs allow for frequent updates and often use an informal style and tone. Needs a standard web browser.|
|Customisation||Blogs are very easy to update without the need for specialised software.|
|Availabilty||Similar software is readily and freely available.|
Why include blogs?
A Blog (short for web log) is often used as a personal journal that can be updated frequently and is intended for general public consumption. Blogs generally reflect the personality of the author.
Blogs can be easily maintained and updated through a standard web browser without the need for additional technologies. They are often free of charge to establish.
With their ease of use and personal appeal, the number of blogs and range of subject matter has exploded over recent years. Blogs have become a very powerful communication medium and are likely to grow exponentially.
Visitors to a blog can often contribute their thoughts and help build the content. Blogs can also draw upon content from other blogs (referred to as syndication from an RSS “feed”). For this reason, blogs have become a powerful medium for establishing web communities and special interest groups.
Blogs can be characterised by:
- a journal style of presentation, including the dates and times of blog entries. Most recent entries are usually listed first
- frequent (often daily) updates
- an informal, converstaional style
- the diversity of subject matter, often including brief musings, commentary on internet and other social issues
- additional commentary contributed by blog visitors
- links to other blogs and websites.
Blogs invite readers to comment on what a user has written or posted. Blogs enable user to include link to web sites, other blogs, news articles, or even pictures. Blogs can also be used to embed video and audio from video sharing and podcasting sites.
Blog writers can also “tag” their entries with keywords. Keywords are a kind of category for blog posts. This allows posts to be viewed (and searched) by users by category as well as by the date they were posted.
There are many free blogging sites available where you can register and create your blog. Three popular sites are:
A photo blog is a type of weblog (or 'blog') that is based on uploaded photos or images. Although photography is the main focus, other features such as text-based or audio comments may be added. Photos and images are powerful tools for inviting responses from other photo blog participants.
Moblogs accepts photos from a mobile phone. Photos, audio, and text files can be posted to a moblog site.
Vidblogs use video rather than text or audio. Videoblogging offers a rich experience by combining movies, sound, still images, and text. New technologies make images and video easy to produce.
RSS and blogs
Like other web tools such social bookmarking sites, podcasts and wikis — blogs generate a "news feed" (or "RSS feed", or simply "feed") so that readers can "subscribe" to the receive the content created in a particular blog without directly visiting the blog.
To view the feeds, you need to use an aggregator (also known as feedreader or newsreader) which collects feeds from many sites and present them on single page in a readable format. This means you don't have to view each individual blog to keep up to date with content.
RSS feeds have important applications for teachers and trainers using blogs with their learners. They can keep up to date with learners' blog postings by subscribing to their learners' feeds and simply checking their aggregators regularly.
Teaching and learning opportunities
- As an informational/instructional resource
- For frequently asked questions and other course updates
- As a tool for learners to establish their own journals, portfolios and personal reflections for presentation to their teachers and peers
- A course/subject journal compiled over the period of delivery with course related reflections
- To showcase personal works and achievements (eg an arts portfolio)
- To contribute to a wider body of knowledge (eg eople from beyond your provider can benefit from reading your blog)
- As a class portal where learners can access supplemental materials, curriculum, links, videos, podcasts, homework, assessment task and other peer/trainer feedback
- As an ongoing content where materials and resources can be archived online for easy locating in the future.
- To establish a curriculum vitae
- As the basis of an assessment.
Blogs can be used for multiple purposes. With this in mind you need to make sure your learners are clear about the purpose of the blog and its intended use. Blogs allow for regular updating. They are often best used as an informal communication tool.
- Plan and design how a blog fits into your learning program.
- Decide on where your blog will be hosted (see Resources section).
- Set up the blog prior to course commencement.
- Negotiate or define with your learners how the blog will be used. This could include:
- Purpose of the blog in the learning program
- Acceptable use and guidelines for posting
- Frequency of updates required.
- Remind learners that blogs are designed to be publically accessible. Learners do not need to login to view materials. Discretion should be used when publishing private and confidential materials. There is no control over intellectual property. Trainers should discuss privacy issues in detail before allowing their learners to blog.
- Clearly define the purpose, expected outcomes and assessment requirements (if applicable).
- Blogs display what your learners’ produce, warts and all. Learners will misspell words and use poor grammar. Work with their learners on this and form strategies to should learner be sensitive about their spelling or composition.
- Provide guidance to learners on the type of work that should be included in the blog. Consider using the inbuilt commenting feature to provide individualised feedback.
- Encourage learners to be adventurous with their posts and the type of items they post there including video, audio, text, links and other blog posts. Learners can delete or edit anything after it has been posted on a blog.
- Remind learners that visitors can post feedback on sites. Such comments to blog can be moderated if you are worried about abuses from outsiders. You can choose to approve all comments, rather than allowing comments to automatically appear.
- As a group search for and visit other learners blogs. Post comments and invite exchanges through the respective blogs. Build trust between the two groups and propose collaboration through blogs around a shared activity.
Blogs can be used to create a portfolio of generic or employablity skills gained over a course of study. This could serve as an exit product for future employment. Learners will be developing their communication skills as they participate in the blog.
If using blogs in assessment you need to:
- Be clear on the competencies, generic skills, performance criteria that need to be demonstrated. Items within the blog should have the potential to demonstrate these competencies.
- Ensure that guidelines for the development, compilation and submission of blog are clearly stated.
- Consider online options for offering feedback on the blog.
- Develop an electronic proforma or rubric that will aid in the assessment of the blog. As each blog is likely to be unique this is sometimes difficult to frame but is critical in ensuring a fair and valid assessment process. The following website allows the user to develop a rubric electronically:
- Thinking Gear http://www.thinkinggear.com/
- One of the advantages of blogs over many other web-based technologies is that they require no specific software to be installed (other than a web browser). They are easy to use and update.
- There are several different blogging technologies (see resources section below). They have subtle differences in look, behaviour and functionality.
- Become familiar with the way that your blog works. Plan to induct the learners.
- You will need to understand some basic html if you want to make changes to blog templates or you want to embed video, audio and slideshares from other social networking sites.
You are likley to need good instructional and organisational skills, particularly if you plan to use blogs for learner journals or assessment. Leaners are likely to require a high level of support, particularly when setting up their blogs.Back to top
- Project-based learning
- Social bookmarking
- Student presentations
From the Framework
More resources from the Australian Flexible Learning Framework
- Wikis and blogs: Tools for learning
This session is aimed to get you started using wikis and blogs in your teaching and to support learners' learning. Understand the basics, start a wiki or blog, and apply it to a teaching strategy or learning situation.http://www.flexiblelearning.net.au/flx/go/home/projects/2007/pid/440
- Moblogs (images, audio and video)
Describes what a moblog is and examines why they might be used in education.
- Connections: Social and mobile tools for enhancing learning
Describes approaches to “moblogging” which is means wireless posting of images from mobile camera phones direct to online journals or web logs (blogs) on PCs.
- RSS, blogging and what it means for flexible teaching and learning
Describes using Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication (RSS), web logging (blogging) and repositories in flexible facilitation, teaching and learning.
- Blogging to learn
This paper introduces the blogging phenomenon and presents some options for educators. http://knowledgetree.flexiblelearning.net.au/edition04/pdf/Blogging_to_Learn.pdf
- On your mark, get set, blog!
This brief guide to blogging explores the possibilities of the ‘blogosphere’.
- Teaching and learning with blogs
Describes the basic features of blogs which make them more than just another new technology. http://flexiblelearning.net.au/resources/weblogs/bloggingarticle0904.pdf
Tools and resources
Some larger organisations already host their own blogs — it is worthwhile contacting your IT/technical support to check. If you don't already have access to blogs, several very well-known blog services are available:
Blogger is a subsidiary of Google. It is free to register and setup your own blog. You can choose from a number of attractive designs. http://www.blogger.com/start
Provides a free blogging service. http://www.motime.com
- Wordpress http://www.wordpress.org/
- Movable Type http://www.sixapart.com/movabletype/
- Introduction to photoblogs and moblogs
A central resource page on the topic of photoblogging and moblogging.
- mlearn07: Mobile blogging: A guide for educators
- RSS, blogging and what it means for teaching and learning
A live interview by Michael Chalk and Michael Coghlan (Australia) with Alan Levine of Maricopa Community College and Garry Putland of EdNA Online (Australia).
- Web 2.0 — Blogs
A tutorial about blogs from wikispaces.
- Using bloglines (or How to keep up with dozens of blogs everyday)
Describes Bloglines, an aggregator tool which keeps track of your favorite blogs and allows you to create your own blog from your favourite “clippings” or blog posts.
- Blogs as electronic learning journals
An article about learners usine blogs as learning journals.