What is a blog?
What is a blog? A website or section of a website that displays chronological postings, most commonly of news, a particular topic, a journal, or marketing information on a product or service. Blog posts can include text, images, hyperlinks, embedded video, presentations, photos… virtually anything found on a regular website.
What distinguishes a blog from a regular website? We talked about the use of comments and RSS.
What is being blogged about in Higher Education? News, trends, college life, admissions, administration, higher ed technology, online learning, and more. Of course, don’t forget professor’s personal blogs. Examples can be found here: http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs
Popular blog platforms in 2011. WordPress is the most popular blog platform used today. We use WordPress at UW-Green Bay. We have a network install that allows us to control all blog sites, users, themes, and plug-ins from one central administration area.
The difference between blogs and wikis was briefly covered. What is your content? Who is your audience? What are your objectives? To determine if a blog, wiki, website, or D2L presence is best for your needs, feel free to talk with one of the instructional technologists at the Learning Technology Center.
Why should I use a blog?
Reasons to use a blog in higher ed:
- timely news and announcements that support and enhance the classroom
- share expert knowledge of a subject and engage an interested audience
- create a record of the process and outcomes of research and/or field work
- support and develop student learning through journaling
- continue the conversation outside of the classroom, documented for later reference
- build a learning community of information sharing, classroom discussion, and information resources
Possible outcomes of encouraging students to use a blog:
- increase student digital literacy
- increase students’ development of a personal voice and accountability for their writing due to the public nature of blogs (“…in order to develop and sustain a clear and confident voice of one’s own, one has to carefully formulate and stand by one’s opinions. Writing a blog assists here because it forces a student to confront their own opinions and contemplate how their views might be interpreted and reflected upon by others” Williams, J. B., & Jacobs, J. S. (2004). Exploring the use of blogs as learning spaces in the higher education sector, Australasian Journal of Educational Technology)
- encourage reflection, critical thinking, and understanding
“Students have long learned as much from each other as they have from an instructor or a textbook – it’s just a question of finding an appropriate vehicle for facilitating this learning.”
Williams, J. & Jacobs, J. (2004) Exploring the use of blogs as learning spaces in the higher education sector, Australasian Journal of Educational Technology 2004, 20(2), 232-247
“It is a portal for creativity and personal initiative where good ideas are rewarded not only with good grades but also with direct responses from colleagues and, hopefully, from readers across the web.”
Anamaria Dutceac Segesten, University of Venus blog, research fellow at the Center for Modern European Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
How are blogs being used at UW-Green Bay?
- http://blog.uwgb.edu/ta-experience – Psychology/HumDev
- http://blog.uwgb.edu/c3711/ – Janet Reilly, Nursing
- http://blog.uwgb.edu/biodiversity/ – Photos
- http://blog.uwgb.edu/digital-exposition/ – Terry Anderson’s Expository Writing Course
- http://blog.uwgb.edu/dining/ – pre-date / post-date
- http://blog.uwgb.edu/inside/ – embed video, photo gallery
Dr. Ryan Martin spoke about his use of blogs and how keeping his anger research blog consistently populated with relevant content earned him an invitation to write for Psychology Today.
Dr. Jill White spoke about her use of blogs and some lessons learned about keeping content up-to-date in order to keep students engaged.
What makes a successful blog?
- make regular content updates (posts)
- write about what you know and be passionate about your subject matter
- be unique – stay focused
- consistent language/character
- give the visitor a reason to come back
- encourage discussion and sharing
- be willing to participate
How do I get started?
Find more information on getting started in the WordPress section of the Web Services website. Contact us for a more-technical overview or one-on-one training.
Find mountains of WordPress information at http://codex.wordpress.org/.