Archive for the ‘blogging’ tag
It’s never been easier to start your own blog, with a range of free tools out there. Blogger still seems to be a popular one, as is posterous which has the advantage of allowing you to blog by email. I use WordPress as a blogging platform, which has a few more bells and whistles than some of the others, and can be hosted on your own domain, should you ever decide that’s something you want to do.
It can be very hard to start. Firstly you have to overcome the ‘why would anyone want to read what I have to say’ problem. My response to that is usually – well, start by blogging for you. There’s a real value in the reflective process needed to put a blog post together (even if you wouldn’t know that from some of mine!). Secondly, think about what you would like to read. It might be quick snap shots of activities in your classroom. It might be about resources that you’ve produced. It might be about your reflections of something you’ve done, or something you’ve read about.
Secondly, it can be hard to continue. I never blog as much as I’d like, and I can go for months at a time without publishing anything. This used to cause me much anguish, and I’d end up in the ridiculous situation of waiting until I’d finished some half finished post before posting anything new. I’m much more relaxed about it now. Any blogging is an added bonus. I’ve come to terms with the pile of half finished posts that will always be on my desktop.
Thirdly it can be hard if you get no comments. It can also be hard it you get comments you don’t like! I’ve found much of the conversation goes on on twitter anyway, which can also be a good place to plug new blog posts. Ultimately, even if no one reads or comments, I’ve still gained something by blogging, both in terms of the reflection it forces me to do, and as a record of what I was doing / thinking that I can return to at a later date. Anything else is an added bonus.
So, go on. Pick a platform and start blogging. Let me know in the comments and I’ll pop by and have a read!
BONUS THOUGHT – Blogging can also be an amazingly powerful platform for students to get their work out to a wider audience. Have a look at the 100 word challenge and quadblogging as two great examples of things you can get involved in.
Matt Knott the developer extraordinaire of Swansea’s Learning Portal the other day tweeted:
For what it’s worth, here’s my two pennies worth.
It seems to be that there are two obvious areas where blogging functionality could sit within the portal.
The first is the addition of a school blog – an extension of the ‘news’ feed to give schools the opportunity to move away from termly newsletters to a more rolling approach to news.
The issue for most schools would be over comments. It seems to me that the lifeblood of any blog is the comments, and schools would benefit from the added engagement with parents and others. Yet there may be a fear that would either result in comments not being switched on, or with a tendency to moderate out any perceived negative comments. Many schools still seem to have a web 1.0 approach to their online presence – everything should be shiny, polished and polished. I’m yet to meet many (any?) school managers who recognise the added value that comes from having visible conversations with parents and other stakeholders. 1 This fear is only made worse by the horror stories that come from facebook and sites like ratemyteacher. All of that said, if the functionality was there, there may be some schools that were brave enough to spearhead it.
The second would be the subject / teacher level blog. For me, I’m finding Moodle a useful ‘online filing cabinet’, but it’s not social enough for what I’m looking for. So I put WP back on the server and started up a class blog, just for homework in the first instance, and it’s been very successful. Now, that would be a step too far for many teachers, but having the option may be the thing that some teachers are looking for – it’s more immediate and linked to present learning than Moodle can be.
Of course, all of this is coming from my secondary perspective. Stepping back and looking at the work that people like Ian Addison and John Sutton are doing with blogs in Primary Schools, it strikes me that a WP style (or indeed, WP if it could be integrated in the way Moodle has been) may find favour in primary schools, both at the whole school and the class / club level.
The third consideration would be a pupil level blog. We’re starting to use Google Sites to allow students to create ‘e-portfolios’ / reflective journals, and in the Applied History course they’ll actually submit one of their pieces of coursework as the Google Site, but that’s not quite the same as a blog. There’s a growing body of research that points out Learning Logs have value as a learning tool, and with easy access to such a tool, more staff might start encouraging students to blog about their learning. In the medium term the easiest facilitation of this may come from the rumored addition of Blogger to Google Apps. Certainly the blogs in Moodle aren’t really up to the job, but the management requirement of a WP blog farm on that scale almost certainly couldn’t be justified for the return.
- I actually shuddered as I typed that, but I can’t think of another word that covers what I mean. Apologies for the management speak. I promise that I won’t do it again ↩
So I’ve been avoiding this blogging thing for a while, mainly due to a backlog of posts I want to get finished and up here. However, if I wait until they’re done I may not be blogging again for months, so I’m going to put them to one side, come back to them another day and try a new approach.
I’m going to try and make time every day to make a quick note here of something I’ve done that day, either that worked really well, or that failed in some way. I suspect they’ll be a lot shorter than my posts have been in the past and they almost certainly won’t have images with them or anything like that. Just a quick window into my teaching now I’m back focussing again on trying to be the kind of teacher I want to be.
Right. Where’s my saddle???