Students love to read and receive comments from other people their age who are outside of their immediate school community, and are fascinated to learn about other people of the world akin to the idea of pen-pals. The opportunity for students to interact and publish for an expanded audience via this electronic medium can be highly motivating, and provides a viewership that is real and authentic. Writing to communicate in the traditional sense can be encumbered by physical limitations, and also limited to the pen and pa-per.
A blog opens up a whole new community of people who can offer ongoing encouragement, feedback, and dialogue. One of the most important opportunities that comes via blogging with students is the tangent of facilitating the ethical use of technology.
Setting up your blog
Moreover, blogging is a way of modelling to students to appropriately use digital technologies for learning. Through blogging, educators can model how to write for a purpose and audience using electronic mediums. A personal student blog can be defined as a space where students are able to curate, reflect upon, and showcase their development of learning. Often these blogs are facilitated by the teachers of the class, in partnership with parents, as a means of maintaining an electronic portfolio.
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Through blogging, a teacher can transform expectations of their students. Students no longer create for themselves, but potentially for their peers, and their school community. Personal student blogs open the possibilities for a diverse audience in new ways, so that when they are writing or authoring for a purpose, they are considering how it will impact on their viewers, and in turn, drive their intrinsic motivation to publish with quality.
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A public blog, open to the world, is a great way to encourage students to have a positive impact on their online digital identity. They also love the potential of receiving comments from other nations. Students can showcase examples of their projects which are curated over a period of time, and can then be demonstrated year after year and beyond their school years. An educator blog can be defined as a space where teachers or those interested in education curate resources, thoughts and ideas for their own professional development.
The blog is often used to articulate their own understanding of the complexities of teaching and learning, to share success stories and resources, or as a means of expanding their own Professional Learning Network PLN. Blogging about professional experiences can be a worthwhile experience for teachers if done correctly. One of the most difficult parts about blogging is finding something meaningful to write about. Some teachers start strong and aim to write a post weekly or fortnightly but sometimes run out of steam.
Engaging in reflective blogging and communicating with a wider network of peers is a habit that definitely pays off.
Social networking and micro-blogging platforms such as Twitter can be integrated to expand the audience and interaction of educator blogs, making it easier to connect globally with other educators. Through this experience, I have personally met virtu-ally or otherwise many other amazing educators. I have been able to find blogs which provide great resources for myself and for others who I can share with, both in my immediate school community and my now global profession-al network.
I have read posts that have affirmed, challenged, or changed the way I think about a particular topic. In a traditional sense, education in the past has been separated from learning communities across location, language and culture.
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Although platforms like Blogger and WordPress have a space dedicated to following other blogs, the visual nature entices engagement. Associated with this, you are able to drag in media from elsewhere. Tumblr is very much a curated space. A creative repository of the web. As a site it exists somewhere between Twitter in regards to its open feed, Pinterest with its visual layout and Known in its celebration of the short form.
A lightweight publishing service, Known provides the means to share a range of content. It is fully responsive and is easily accessible via the browser. As a platform, it offers a range of possibilities, such as a digital locker that you syndicate elsewhere , a community space for people to connect or as a more personal short blog.
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With the ideal being to help people to take more control of their online presence it integrates with a range of other services. Due to this intended flexibility, you very much create your own iteration. Want comments, enable them. Want multiple users, enable them. Want to customise things using CSS, enable it. Through the plugins you are able to truly personalise the space to your particular needs. In addition to this, as it is open sourced it has been designed to be forked allowing for many other nuances.
For some, Medium represents a blogging ideal.
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A one stop shop where you can post, comment, highlight, bookmark, collaboratively drafts and connect with different users. There are two glaring problems with this. Firstly, if you want to exist outside of Medium it is not made easy. Alan Levine has documented his efforts to make sense of the RSS feed, while you are unable to download your content in a form that is usable.
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The second matter is the feel of the space. There is little room for personalisation, while you are limited to the basics of text formatting. I should. In addition to this, the profile pages are somewhat limiting. With all this said and done, I think that Dave Winer sums up the problem with Medium best when he warns about it becoming the consensus platform.
It is for this reason that I always recommend posting elsewhere first before sharing Medium. Similar in some respects to Storify , Weebly involves dragging and dropping various elements in order to create your content. This means creating a blog requires little expertise. In regards to the overall layout, there are a range of customizable pages, for some the simplicity within these can be frustrating. Like WordPress. However, this comes with advertisement.
The different plans come with greater benefits. While like Kidblog, Weebly Education also lets you create 40 student accounts for free with no student emails required or advertisements. A content management system that works across all platforms, Seesaw provides the means to capture learning in a range of forms. Like spaces such as Edmodo , you can create groups and classes. However, what is different is that even with just one iPad in a classroom you can quickly allocate artefacts to different students. Recently, they added a new blogging feature. This allows you to curate student content in a central group space and post it out as a blog.
As with most educational platforms, there is the facility to moderate posts.
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It is unclear where blog posts fit within all of this. Interestingly, there are many similarities with Kidblog, from the connections to the lack of RSS. It is divided into three parts: collections, communities and the main stream. Whichever section you post in, you are able to incorporate different content type, including images, videos and links. It also allows for the use of hashtags within the writing.
There is no avenue to embed content within a post. Basically, you can post for specific people, a circle, a community or simply for the public. Like Medium, there is little means for changing the look and feel of the site. Some educators use secure spaces like Scootle Community , others utilise different social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook.
enter Some utilise different services. If I were starting out with blogging, either personally or as a class, I would sign up to Edublogs. They provide fabulous support, either through the Edublogger blog or via the likes of Ronnie Burt and Sue Waters. The next step personally would be to purchase your own space online and install your own instance of WordPress.
This not only provides control over data, but also more options in regards to what is possible. Although this requires a little more effort, there are enough educators out there ready to help that it makes it achievable if you are willing to dive in. Another option when self-hosting a site is to use Known. Like WordPress, Known is open source. Although a seemingly simple site, it offers to possibility to build the web, but also own your presence there.
It all depends on context. So what about you? What service do you use? Have you used any other platforms in the past? As always, I would love to know. Feel free to leave a comment? It covers so many options and their features. Thanks again Aarom. Thank you Ann for the comment.
I think that there is always something more that you can do with a blog, even if that is changing clatforms. To be honest, I did create it as a resource to come back to. Hello Aaron — you provide a wealth of information here! As you know, my primary sharing tool is my blog on Blogger. However, the simplicity and content I find on Medium appeals to me. Like you have suggested, I will post to my blog and copy to Medium. Tools will come and go, what occupies my thinking is every learner having their own web domain to share learning transparently.
Also, how does the audience effect impact our learning?