Last modified on 8 July 2014, at 05:43

User-Generated Content in Education/Blogs

Blogs are entries on a computer that are updated on a regular basis by the author. These entries can be about anything, political views, certain topics, personal life, or anything else that the "author" wants to write about. They are used by businesses as well as individuals. Anyone could be an author. Blogs are also short for the term "web logs" and they are used to enhance collaboration between its users.

Brief History of BlogsEdit

Blogs were first introduced with the creation of the current Web 2.0 software. Web 2.0 is known as the read and write Web and blogging is essentially writing on a particular topic, posting that blog, and another user is going to read that topic of particular interest. When blogs were first introduced they were meant simply to be used as someone's own personal diary. There was not supposed to be any type of interaction and collaboration between the users of the blogs. Since blogs were first introduced they have been utilized in a completely different manner. Blogs are now meant to have a high level of interaction between individuals. Blogging is all about reading and writing and being creative with those posts. The main idea behind blogging was to be used solely as a means of communicating but now it has been taken to a whole new level. Blogging is completely free and it can be used by anyone that has internet access and it can be used in so many different ways to support the writing process.

Blogs have the following characteristics[1]:

  • scrolling entries
  • sorted by date (newest is at the top)
  • easy to add information
  • can subscribe to
  • searchable
Blogs are easy to create. All it takes is one idea. Anyone can do it. Your diary could be shared with everyone.

•A blog is normally a single page of entries. There may be archives of older entries, but the "main page" of a blog is all anyone really cares about. •A blog is organized in reverse-chronological order, from most recent entry to least recent. •A blog is normally public -- the whole world can see it. •The entries in a blog usually come from a single author. •The entries in a blog are usually stream-of-consciousness. There is no particular order to them. For example, if I see a good link, I can throw it in my blog. The tools that most bloggers use make it incredibly easy to add entries to a blog any time they feel like it.

How Do Blogs Work?Edit

Blogs are created via blog hosting websites such as Blogger, Wordpress, or Edublogs. Typically, a user registers a username and password, picks a blog title and URL, and then can immediately begin his or her first post, or entry.

A post can include a combination or writing, photos, videos, links, and other embedded materials. Once the post is ready, the author can instantly publish it to the blog. Other people are then able to view the post (depending on settings--a blogger can choose to make his or her blog private, public, or shared with certain people).

Readers can subscribe to the blog and receive updates in their e-mail or RSS reader. Posts can be shared via social networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Bloggers can also enable commenting, which means readers can write responses to blog posts that will appear along with the post for other readers to see. [2]

All it takes is one click to post or respond to another persons blog.

Pros of Using Blogs in the ClassroomEdit

There are many pros of using blogs in education [3].

  • Can promote critical thinking
  • Can promote creativity
  • Can promote social interaction
  • Allows exposure to quality information
  • Allows individuality
  • Blogging can be done from home computers or school computers
  • Allows students to practice and better reading and writing skills
  • Can be used as a student portfolio
  • Allows for discussion
  • Gives students a real audience for their work, as well as feedback that will help them to become better writers.
  • Assigning "blogging buddies" in a classroom ensures that all students will receive comments on their posts.[4]

Cons of Using Blogs in the ClassroomEdit

There are several cons when it comes to using blogs in the classroom [5]

  • Blogs can be viewed publicly by anyone if security settings are not set properly
  • Students must be aware of not being defamatory or libelous
  • School networks may block blogs
  • All blogs are not factual
  • It is not a replacement to real conversation since there can be a time lapse in postings and replies[6]
  • Not all students have a home computer
  • Access to computer labs in schools may be limited
  • Students in a class may only post comments to their friends[7]

How Blogging Can Be Used in EducationEdit

Teachers can use blogs to communicate with students and parents. Teachers can use their blog to give detailed information on what students are doing in the classroom, post homework assignments for absent students, and allow a comment section for specific questions that students or parents might have.

Blogging engages students in active learning, increases student and teacher relationships, increases higher-order thinking skills, and improves flexibility in teaching and learning (Ferdig & Roehler, 2003). Classroom blogging sites provide students with opportunities to share their viewpoints, and a supportive environment for reading and writing (Huffaker, 2005).[8]

Blogging is one way to communicate in a social context through the medium of technology. Larson and Marsh (2005) say that the practice of blogging in the classroom identifies the child as an active member of a constantly changing community of learners in which knowledge constructs and is constructed by a larger cultural system. From this point of view, conceptualizing learning creates a shift from the traditional teacher-centered classroom to one that is learner-centered. Larson and Marsh (2005), says in this type of classroom learning occurs through participation in social, cultural, and historical contexts that are intervened by instruction.[9]

Some teachers choose to have a class blog. There are several uses for a class blog[10].

  • Teachers post a homework question and require students to respond to the question and other classmate responses.
  • Students post questions they have that can be discussed during the next class period.
  • Students can post their work to the class blog and allow others to leave feedback.
  • One student can take notes for the class and post them on the class blog.
  • Students, teachers, or parents comment on individual or class work on the class blog.

Other uses of a classroom blog could include[11]:

  • Posting classroom rules, procedures, calendars, schedules, teacher email and school phone number.
  • Posting links for online books or supplemental materials, i.e. videos, podcasts, and websites.
  • Uploading digital photos or videos of class projects.
  • Using a recording software program upload audio files of students narrating their favorite stories or stories they have written.
  • Posting reviews, by individual students, of their favorite or recently read books.
  • Creating and posting of creative or reflective writing.
  • Posting minutes or records of meetings for class council, clubs, PTA…
  • Inviting people from around the world to describe their day to learning of cultural differences.
  • Listing topics for a research project.
  • Reflecting and self-assessing by teachers on a personal blog about their daily lessons, then creating suggestions or finding alternatives for future lessons.

Classroom Blogging ToolsEdit

There are a growing number of classroom blogging sites designed exclusively for teachers and students. These sites typically offer a safe, controlled environment in which students can create and share their own blogs under the supervision and administration of a teacher. [12] Some of these sites offer limited free services, but charge for more advanced features or a larger number of student accounts. A few sites offer comprehensive services at no charge to the teacher. [13] The following is a list of some of the most popular educational blogging sites:

Kidblog.org is based on a simplified version of the user-friendly Wordpress interface. Teachers have full administrative control of the classroom blogs and all blogs are private and password protected. Kidblog is free and there are no ads.

KidBlog

EduBlogs.org is a widely used educational blogging site. Edublogs offers many options and themes. The embedded calendar is one of teachers’ favorite features. Edublogs also offers extensive support on its help pages. Although some features are free, other features require the user to subscribe to various packages.

Weebly is a popular site that enables teachers to create a free class website with up to 40 student blogs. Weebly also offers many features and themes.

21Classes.com offers more features and options than some of the free educational blogging tools, but a classroom subscription costs $79 per year.

Classblogmeister.com contains fewer bells and whistles, but is still a popular educational blogging tool. One popular feature of ClassBlogmeister is the teacher moderation tools. No student posts or comments are published until the teacher has given approval.

Guidelines for Using Blogs in the ClassroomEdit

The use of blogs in the classroom requires the teacher to establish blogging guidelines in order to keep students safe online. These blogging guidelines should align with the district's Acceptable Use Policy and publicity releases. Students at the elementary level will often have more restrictive guidelines than students at the secondary level. While there are no set guidelines for using blogs in the classroom, students should be educated on proper netiquette and online safety before blogging in the classroom. It is important that students are respectful to fellow classmates and others on the internet. Student also should not post personal information including addresses, phone numbers, or personal photographs[14]. Teachers should also ensure that the username does not include the student's full name, age, date of birth, or other identifying information. Information on online safety can be found at Safekids.com

Professional Development Blogs for TeachersEdit

Although there are many blogs that teachers can use in the classroom with their students, there is also a multitude of blogs that teachers can use for their own professional development. Such blogs include hints on ways to be a better teacher in a certain subject area such as music, mathematics, or ESL, blogs on educational theory, blogs on advice for new teachers, blogs on where to find free technology, and blogs on transforming education, for example.

Here is a sampling of a few of these blogs which were chosen because they are updated regularly:

  • The Learning Network, Teaching and Learning with the New York Times is supported by the New York Times, is free, and is updated daily. Readers may comment on each and every post. The blog includes commentary, lesson plans, daily questions for students who may post replies, high-interest articles. http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/
This is a screen shot of my own blog
  • Cool Cat Teacher Blog is a blog for inspiration and information. This is the blog of Vicki Davis, a full time teacher and parent who views teaching as “a noble calling.” You will learn about 21st Century learning, experience global collaboration, the latest technology, and more. The blog is updated daily and has won numerous awards. http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com/
  • 2 Cents Worth is a blog of David Warlick, a former teacher, offering his opinions on topics under the teaching and learning umbrella. This is updated on a regular basis and readers are welcome to comment on the blog posts. http://davidwarlick.com/2cents/
  • Teaching Now is an Education Week blog that is updated on a regular basis with a wide range of material that will inspire, inform, and illuminate. Comments from readers are welcome at this is a free site. The material offered will stretch your thinking. http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teaching_now/
  • This week in Education is maintained by Scholastic, but is managed by Alexander Russo, a former Senate education staffer. If you want to keep informed about the latest happenings in education nation-wide, this is the blog for you. You can respond to the blog and also sign up for daily emails. http://scholasticadministrator.typepad.com/

There is much that can be learned from blogs of other teaching professionals and the learning can be done anytime and anywhere[15] .

ReferencesEdit

  1. Eglodes (2011) Using Blogs in your Classroom. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0I1V5XaMsc
  2. Eglodes (2011) Using Blogs in your Classroom. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0I1V5XaMsc
  3. Blogging about blogging. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://bloggingresearch.wordpress.com/2007/06/03/benefits-of-blogs-in-education/
  4. Cottle A. Integrating 21st Century Skills in Schools Using a Class Blogging Project Retrieved from: http://www.wvcpd.org/PLAJournal/ActionResearch-BloggingProject/ActionResearch-BloggingProject/BloggingProject.htm== References ==
  5. Crie, M. (2006). Using blogs to integrate technology in the classroom. Glencoe Online.
  6. Blogs – advantages and disadvantages. (n.d.). Online EDU Blog, Retrieved from http://www.onlineedublog.com/blogs
  7. Cottle A. Integrating 21st Century Skills in Schools Using a Class Blogging Project Retrieved from: http://www.wvcpd.org/PLAJournal/ActionResearch-BloggingProject/ActionResearch-BloggingProject/BloggingProject.htm== References ==
  8. Cottle A. Integrating 21st Century Skills in Schools Using a Class Blogging Project Retrieved from: http://www.wvcpd.org/PLAJournal/ActionResearch-BloggingProject/ActionResearch-BloggingProject/BloggingProject.htm== References ==
  9. Larson, J., & Marsh, J. (2005). Making literacy real. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
  10. Walsh, K. (2009). Blogging in (and out of) the classroom. EmergingEdTech, Retrieved from http://www.emergingedtech.com/2009/05/blogging-in-and-out-of-the-classroom/
  11. J. Black. (2008, October 21). Web 2.0 in the Classroom: 33 Ways to use blogs in your classroom and in the educational setting. Retrieved from http://web.archive.org/web/20101111061043/http://web20intheclassroom.blogspot.com/2008/10/ways-to-use-blogs-in-your-classroom-and.html
  12. Teaching Tips (2008) 50 Useful Blogging Tools for Teachers. Retrieved on 02/26/13 at http://www.teachingtips.com/blog/2008/07/21/50-useful-blogging-tools-for-teachers/
  13. Grove (2011) Educational blogging platforms for students. Retrieved on 02/26/13 at http://www.brighthubeducation.com/teaching-methods-tips/121823-educational-blogging-platforms-for-your-students/
  14. Magid, L. (n.d.). Kids rules for online safety (for pre-teens). Retrieved from http://www.safekids.com/kids-rules-for-online-safety/
  15. Ferriter, B. (2009). Learning with blogs and wikis. Retrieved on 03/02/13, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb09/vol66/num05/Learning-with-Blogs-and-Wikis.aspx