Category Archives: blogging

eT@lking: Blogging – a 21st Century Digital Literacy

Great conversations were shared in this session. There were participants who had not blogged and others who were experienced with blogging. Questions were sought from the participants and then answers were gained from the interactive discussions in the chat and on the whiteboard, ranging from:-

  1. How do I get a blog?
  2. How do you decide on a name for your url and blog title?
  3. Privacy issues
  4. How much time will I need to put in?
  5. Sorting out categories and tags
  6. How to keep motivated when comments don’t come in!
  7. and much more!

As Penny and Whatedsaid had microphones, they walked us through their fabulous blogs and explained the elements of and reasons for having their blog content.

Some of the other bloggers who were present included:-

  1. Celia
  2. HiHelen
  3. Mentone Mif
  4. murcha

If you want to know more about blogging, don’t miss the recording to this session.

Blogging – a Digital Literacy of the 21st Century

Date:- Wed, February 16th

Time:-  8-9pm (Melbourne, Australia gmt+11)

This session will continue on from our theme of microblogging over the last few weeks. Blogging is a digital literacy of the 21st century. It is essential that as we become increasingly digital and have an online presence that there is a base for people from across the country and globe, to connect and communicate with each other. Blogging provides the perfect platform for asynchronous connections.

In this session the following may be discussed depending on the participants who are present:-

  • what is a blog?
  • how can blogs be used?
  • where should we start with blogs?
  • what makes an effective blog?
  • the recent Teacher blogging challenge and the upcoming student challenge with edublogs (to be continued next week with Sue Wyatt)
  • how can we increase our readership and our connections?
  • and other questions that participants may pose.

Please join us, bring along the things you would like to be shown or discussed and share in the conversations.

Here is the link to the session


How to get people active/interested in a blog!

(Please note:- that this is not my formal response to the last challenge “Building Readership” but covers me until I do.)

As I am still contemplating the content of my final response to the last challenge in the current series of Kick Start Your Blog Challenge, (Yes, I know I am really late with it, but……. precious time!), I received this plea for help from an online colleague. A plea that is pertinent to the final challenge – Building Readership (Beginner) and Promote that Blog (Advanced)!


I have set up a blog with Word Press for Religious Education Co-ordinators in Melbourne and surrounds and emailed them the link. I set up a few posts myself and a few people replied to them, but I am feeling a bit dispirited about it as no-one else but me puts up posts and so few people (out of about 50 or 60 REC’s) have chosen to subscribe. I don’t know how to get more people interested. It was meant to be a way for us to share good ideas or ask questions of each other, but its not going to work if so few people look at it. Any ideas?


This is a quandary that so many of us face and despite being disheartened, hang in there and keep blogging away! Very few of us are successful overnight and it may take up to three years to become fully established, networked and to build a ‘good’ readership level. It takes networking, time and experience. However, here are some pointers and advice. Many of these members may be new to the online environment, so will need to be encouraged and taught how to use it.

Evidence of a great start!

  • A ‘niche’ blog has been established
  • An emailing list, with a specific interest,  has been alerted to the existence of a blog
  • An RSS feed has been set up. (It took me two years to work this out and another year to get subscribers)
  • Several people have subscribed already. This shows that there is interest and some who understand this environment.
  • Your blog has a purpose.

Further ideas to build readership:-

  • Use your emailing list – add this same question tothe emailing list to get  feedback, needs of the list and publicity. If questions are asked on the list, this makes the perfect time to write a post on that question.
  • Add the same question to the discussions on a number of social networking sites that you belong to eg Classroom2.0 and Guide To Innovation. If you are happy I want to add this as a blog post to my blog and try and get feedback from others as well.
  • Ensure appropriate categories and tags are added. There may be others around the globe interested in the searching for information and the search engines will pick these up.
  • If images are added to a post as a ‘stand alone’, ensure there is text provided to explain why they are there, how they can be used and seeking advice from readers about alternatives and ways to use them. Interact with questions as much as possible, to tease out those important comments.
  • Add links to  appropriate resources and other similar blogs via blogroll to encourage repeat visits
  • Ask members of the list to write a guest blog post. It can be typed up in a word processor, emailed it to you to post, with appropriate acknowledgements.
  • Find one or two others who may be able to help. Make them administrators, set up a roster to contribute etc.
  • Add some widgets eg  a clustrmap, geovisite and/or a feedjit traffic feed. You may be surprised how many people visit the blog without leaving a footprint. This will keep you motivated.
  • Add an email option for subscriptions to the blog.
  • Write effective posts
  • add an ‘about me‘ page, which quite clearly explains the purpose of the blog etc.
  • Check out some of the wonderful Kick Start Your Blog Challenges and read some of the blog posts created in response.
  • Add questions that are quick and easy to answer, to tease out those all important comments of readers.

You have a niche blog, your audience will be reasonably niche but it is global in aspect! If we can resolve the issue that you have posed, networking can be escalated, the use of blogs increased, online sharing empowered and the use of technology to its best advantage.
What would you advise? Do you work in a group blog? How do you encourage readership? If you have written a blog post on this please add a comment.

Adding Legs to my Blog (alias “Walking you through my sidebar!”

Add Bling to a Blog

Challenge #7 of Kick Start Your Blog looked at the use of widgets in a blog and the possibility of adding some bling! The sidebar(s) of a blog may need a spring clean and mine certainly did and still does. Here is what I did in the spring clean! Let me walk you through my side bar.

1. About Me My blog did not have an avatar on the sidebar, so I registered for a gravatar, added my photo and wrote a short piece about ambitions and passions. I will link this to may ‘About Me’ page.

2.  Categories This is an essential item on a blog, so that posts of a similar topic can be searched for. Search engines may also pick up on the categories. Maintained my drop down menu for categories. Tags should appear near the categories so that readers interested in more, can quickly choose a tag.

3. RSS Feed – allows interested readers to subscribe to my blog and receive notice of post updates. The “subscribe by email” option is also on the sidebar for those who prefer to receive it by email.

4. Search box: To retrieve blog posts on a particular topic (primarily for personal use)

5. Badges: It is with pride that these are displayed – nominations for the Edublogs Awards 2008, 2010.It is also with pride that I promote the amazing Global Education Conference 2010.

6. Blogroll: this aspect still needs tidying up, as some blogs are idle and there are others  to add. Then follows links to global projects, frequently used resources, blogs that are special to me (family etc) and my other blogs. Horror of all horrors – I had not added the Kick Start Your Blog Challenge to my sidebar. That was quickly rectified. As the blogroll gets longer, I shall consider putting this on a page rather than the sidebar.

7. Widgets: I am still trying to work out what widgets  wordpress will accept but Clustrmaps has been added. This is reset each year. Sometimes, I catch my students looking at my map, working out what countries the dots are from etc.  Geovisite has some great tracking options but cannot be added to wordpress.

8. Meta:- login for the blog. This should be at the bottom of the sidebar as only the blogger needs access to this.

I am not sure whether I need the latest tweets or  my latest post updates. A clock widget would be good so if anyone knows of one for wordpress, I would love you tell me as a comment below.

Class Blog - As my students use this blog, it has more bling but is also in major need of renovation. As our location is changing, I need to redo all my widgets and sidebar.

  1. Features most of the above except the blogroll includes links to my student blogs.
  2. Digital clock –  to inform our global contacts what
    day it is in Australia and what the current time where we live.
  3. A countdown to an important event or to the end of the year
  4. Student blog of the week
  5. Tags in a word cloud
  6. Geovisite tracking and mapping  objects
  7. Feedjit traffic feed

What do you see as essential on your sidebar? How does the sidebar on your teacher blog compare to that on a class blog?


Adding legs to my blog (alias “Walking you through my sidebar)

The ‘eyes’ of the blog – Images! Kick Start Your Blog Challenge #5

#5 “Kick Start your Blog” challenge looks at the importance of images in blogs. Images tells a 1000 words. With increasing use of online spaces and easy accessability to a camera eg the mobile phone, images will increase in importance.

I am choosing the challenge to tell a “Story in 10 images” Here is the story:-

How could I use this photo gallery in class? Here are a few options:-

  1. Tell me the story of these images either in writing or use audio to develop a podcast
  2. Look at the photos above. If I were in those photos, what would I see, what would I hear, what would I smell and how would I feel. (Students could work in small groups to brainstorm using bubblus, google document, titan pad, ietherpad, wallwisher etc. It could be shared across schools with students mixed in groups from the schools brainstorming the story)
  3. Write a question to ask at at least 5 of these photos.
  4. Students take their own 3 to 9 images and tell a story in pictures
  5. Can you work out where the images were taken from? Research  online the flood disasters in Australia in January 2010. Write a post using links to the websites that you have found. If possible find videos, news reports, tweets, facebook pages, blogs etc representing many viewpoints. (for older students) etc
  6. Write a sequel to this story.
  7. What does this story say about the Australian cutlure?

How else could a story in images be used in the classroom? (And oops I cannot count as I have 11 pictures)

The Blog’s Brain in an Avatar!

Arriving at the airport with some degree of angst and anxiety, fearing I was too late for my flight to Canberra where the Australian Computer Educators’ Conference was to be held, I was taken aback to find that my flight was actually one hour later than I thought. Relaxing somewhat, I found my way to the departure lounge and  settled down into a seat to collect my breath. Several minutes later, a complete stranger came up to me and asked if I was murcha from twitter. After confirming that I was, I met face to face @lucybarrow- a fellow tweeter. She was also attending the conference and so a firm and continuing friendship has developed. It is also great to attend conferences and recognize others there or be recognized from online avatars.

The fourth Kick Start Your Blog Challenge looks at avatars. The brain of the blog can be likened to the author or blogger, the one responsible for the blog. Their online  representation can be shown in both a blog avatar and a comment avatar.

Kick Start Your Blog Challenge requires participants to look at the ‘brain’ of the blog ie the blogger themselves, with the theme of Avatars. Avatars are computer/digital/online representations of people.

My avatarsAnne Mirtschin avatar

I am happy to have my photo image as my avatar. This is my usual image – the one that Lucy recognized me from.

However, I also use a gravatar, so that when I My gravatarcomment on other people’s posts, this image appears with the comment. This gravatar is a more recent photo and was taken in winter time.

As part of the challenge, I also created a picassahead avatar. This is the result:-

murcha by picassaWhy is this avatar a representation of me? First, it has my online username and twitter handle – murcha. I am always in a rush and do not brush my hair as often as I should, so the hair is a little unkempt and crazy. My eyes are blue and as I enjoy a good laugh, I tried to choose a mouth that depicted that. In winter, I like to wear scarves to add a bit of colour to my very dominant ‘black’ coloured wardrobe. Oh, if only I could, I would change my prominent nose!! Many choose to depict themselves as an image that they would love to be, but I want people to accept me and recognize me as I am.

Here are two other avatar making sites that are favourites with my students

  1. illustmaker Facemaking tool (in different languages)
  2. Reasonably Clever lego avatars

All students in our school have avatars. It is important that safety is the prime consideration, whilst they are under our care. Some have chosen to draw their avatar in MS Paint, some prefer to use an online avatar maker (see above sites). Some older students have used their photo and cartoonized it beyond instant recognition using befunky. Two years ago, the preps (aged 5 years) lay on a piece of paper, their teacher drew their outline and the students then drew themselves within the outline. Year 10 students took a photo of their artwork, reduced the image size, published in on our shared network and preps used this as their avatar.

What sites do you like to make avatars? How have you used avatars with students? Any highlights or issues?

The heartbeat of the Blog – Posts! (Kickstart Your Blog #2 – Advanced)

The second challenge in the Kick Start Your Blog Challenge (advanced) looked at writing effective blog posts. Blog posts can be likened to the heart beat of a blog. They determine the health of the blog, its status and future. It is the most important element of the blog. Therefore, those who wish to improve their blogging skills need to consider how to write effective posts. What makes an effective post? I love to learn and am therefore always looking for blog posts that help me extend my knowledge especially any that is of practical use in the classroom.
How to Compose a Quality Comment! is an effective post written by Linda Yollis. Linda’s blog came second runner up in the recent Edublogs Awards. Of even more interest was the fact that Linda was the winner of the Life Time Achievement Award. She was the winner over well known identities Steve Hargadon of classroom 2.0 fame and Sir Ken Robertson. Linda’s contribution to the blogging community was recognized by that community.
Why is this an effective post?

  1. The title is short, simple but tells me exactly what the post is about. As I am interested in blogging it captures my attention.
  2. Content:- The opening window continues to hold my attention. An interesting image summarizing the content of comments is near the opening sentences.
  3. Sub headings break up the text, allowing me to scan and browse through at will.
  4. There is variety in the content eg advice with practical examples, embedded movies, links to further resources. There is valuable information telling me how to create html code to  add to comments. This gives the  comment visual impact and active hyperlinks. Emoticon codes are also given within a table and I look forward to trying these.
  5. The post asked for some action. There is  a challenge to visit 10 blogs and leave a quality comment.
  6. Evidence of readership:- There are 84 comments from teachers, classes and students.  Some of these comments have used the html code shared in the blog post. There are reflections and evidence of learning from other classes from several countries. Linda has replied to all comments.

Would you agree? What else do you look for in an effective post?

Down blog’s memory lane! 10 Questions to ask my Blog

This post is being written as part of the first teacherchallenge for advanced bloggers in the Kick Start Your Blog.

  1. When did you start posting? June 27th, 2007
  2. What was in that first post? I had no idea what a blog was about or what I was to do, I was such a baby, so I started being a journal with random diary entries, documenting my owners’ adventures with the students as they experimented with podcasting and web2.0 tools as part of an Education Department grant.
  3. What makes you happy? Getting comments – I love to know that people are actually reading what I share and watching any red dots appear on my clustr map.
  4. Any devastating moments? Yes, the first time I lost all the precious re dots on my clustrmap, I was devastated. However, I found out that it is reset each 12 months and the dots started to appear again over time.
  5. Who has helped you over the past three years? My blog writer was able to establish a network through twitter, classroom2.0 and she got involved in global projects, providing a potential audience. Adding appropriate tags and categories to posts gets my work into search engines, bringing further readers.
  6. How have you matured over the last three years or so? I feel that I have become more than a journal and am developing into a digital portfolio and a platform for reflection.
  7. What has been the highlight of your career? Being nominated twice for the Edublogs awards.
  8. What frustrates you? Not being updated as much as I would like, knowing that people visit but dont leave comments (I love comments and feedback) and at the moment I need a good ‘spring clean’, dust and makeover (the blogroll needs tidying up, pages need updating, categories are all over the place etc) I do like to appear wel
  9. What are your sources of inspiration? – daily events in the classroom, twitter, others’ blog posts, search terms that have brought people to me (found in my stats section), questions people might ask my blogger through emails.
  10. Future directions?- would like to tell others more about the tools that are available for effective classroom use and eLearning, ideas for their use etc. I like being connected to many and would like to network further with global colleauges, encouraging the Asian educators to communicate  learn from me, and in turn, I learn from them.

The word cloud below has been created with wordle displaying a visual analysis of this post.

Kick Start Your Blog with the Teacher Blog Challenge

Are you interested:-

  1. in getting both yourself and your students using 21st century tools like blogs?
  2. in learning about some new tools you could use in your classes?
  3. in being a mentor to teachers and educators who are just starting their journey with 21st century technology?
  4. in improving your blogging, extending your network globally and sharing with others?

Then the teachers’ blogging challenge is for you! This challenge is being organised through edublogs. This 30 day challenge, starts on Monday January 10th, and will have two components:-

  1. Two weekly challenges for those new to blogging
  2. Two weekly challenges to those who are experienced in blogging

The first topic will be “30 days to kickstart your blogging” and will cover topics such as writing effective blogs posts, embedding media, and building readership. Hence the hashtag for twitter, blogging references etc is #ksyb. Sue Waters and Ronnie Burt will provide the newbie challenges, Anne Mirtschin the advanced challenges and Sue Wyatt will provide a reflective post each week.

Be part of this great challenge and read So you are joining this first challenge! Fun, networking and learning for all!

Here is the first challenge for advanced teacher bloggers – Down Blog’s Memory Lane

Learning with Stats!

Statistics have always fascinated me. Therefore it is with some interest that I  look at the stats section of my wordpress blog often on a daily basis. These are the sections I like to look at the following

  • The numbers of visitors each day. Weekends are always quietest.
  • Incoming links is the most important source of knowledge to me, as it shows who is actually linking blog posts or pages to mine. I always try and comment back and thank them to enable further connections and encourage further visits to my blog.
  • who referred visitors to my blog – it often brings me to other interesting blogs, broadens my PLN but can be difficult to trace the actual origin of the link. WordPress has added an id feature to this eg twitter, wordpress, google reader etc
  • The search terms that people have used – often gives me prompts and ideas on further blog posts. Shows the importance of tagging and categories etc
  • The links that people have clicked on as a result of my blog posts. This gives an idea of the real purpose of the visit or further interest areas.

It was interesting to receive a recent email from the wordpress team where the summarised statistics for my blog over 2010.According to them, here is my Blogging Year in 2010:-

  1. 31,000 views
  2. 190 new posts (that is a fraction over 3 posts per week)
  3. uploaded 222 pictures
  4. busiest day of the year was September 27th with 563 views. The most popular post that day was Workshop – Students from SMJK Poi Lam School.
  5. Top referring sites were The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and Google Reader.
  6. Some visitors came searching, mostly for school children,, anne mirtschin, virtual classroom, and elluminate.

Here are my all time top 5 blog posts:-

  1. Workshop – Students from SMJK Poi Lam School  September 2010 4 comments 
  2.  20 reasons why students should blog March 2008 73 comments 
  3.  Using skype in the classroom December 2008, 1 comments
  4. About Me   33 comments
  5. Around the World in 80 schools    February 2009, 4 comments