Blogs provide a way to share information that can reinforce what students are learning in the classroom or the advice that one is giving to his/her clients. Blogs can also provide an interactive experience, increasing the likelihood of learning and retention. Three common uses of blogs as learning tools are those of the student, teacher, and freelancer blog.
Students blog on a topic and classmates can give feedback on each other’s blogs. By posting homework, reports and special assignments, blogs can be useful for ensuring students are reading an assigned novel or chapter and you can guide students on how to critically evaluate another’s thoughts. Blogs can be useful in a variety of subjects; History, English, Foreign Language Studies, and computer skills.
Blogs can allow teachers to post assignments, information for parents, and offers extra advice on homework. A blog with video, photos or illustrations adds depth to the material a student is reading in a book, reinforcing the lesson. Parents are also able to see the curriculum and homework that their child is responsible for.
Blogging provides a space to quickly share information with your entire network, who can share the information with their network. Freelance blogs range from accountants educating others on how to manage personal finances to photographers explaining camera options.
Solution: Getting your blog started
Step 1: Decide on the basic information that you want to share.
- Is it strictly paragraph style blog that would look similar to a Word document? Do you want to add interaction with a group and email followers, a calendar of events and forums for discussion? Or do you want a blog that is more photo or video based where your instruction is pre-recorded?
Here are some basic blog options for various needs:
WordPress – Word document looking posts; video or picture uploading.
Ning – Group based blog; traditional posts and add members for direct emailing, a built-in calendar of events, and video and photo upload abilities.
Virb – Photo or portfolio based; excellent for art student blogs, photographers, or to post a collection of pre-recorded tutorials.
Step 2: Create account and add information
The basic process is to decide on a username and password, select (from a list of options) the look you want your site to have, and copy and paste or upload the content.
Step 3: Sharing the blog
Be sure to email everyone you know with the information for the blog and encourage them to share it with others. Print the blog address so that you can hand it to someone, parents, staff, etc. And always post updates on at least a few social sites – reach people where they are.
Engage your blog visitors: If you keep the blog current – parents, teachers, community members and your network – are likely to go to your blog more often to see what’s new. Also, be sure to respond to comments and keep alert of what is being discussed in the forum.
Keep it interesting: Engage people with a variety of methods, from video to photos and interactive gadgets.
Below are some tools that can be helpful for your blog.
World Crossings: add forums, message boards or chat rooms to your site
Slideshare: display presentations (PowerPoint) on blog
Bubbl.us: widget that builds brainstorming bubbles
MyStudio: Create quizzes to place on blogs for free
Online Education Database: directory of online learning and articles on the subject Academic Info.Net: list of established educators using blogs as learning tools
The eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions: Newsletter of articles and tips