Category Archives: blogging

Is Blogging Dead?


Earlier this year, I had a conversation with one of the new teachers at our school about blogging which was overheard by one of our senior teachers who has been at our school for many years. That senior teacher made the comment: “I thought that blogging was dead!”. I was horrified and assured the teacher that it is was still very much alive!

More than 12 years ago, I started to blog under the direction of Heather Blakey who was a popular blogger in Australia. She conducted a PD in our school library for staff on blogging. I was fascinated and thought it would be a great way to share our country backyards with others, especially as we live in Kanawinka, the largest Geeopark in the world. There is much evidence of volcanic activity in our area, on our farms and in the small towns that our students hail from. Our students come from Penshurst, which has the volcano, Mt Rouse; Macarthur (Mt Eccles) and Koroit (Tower Hill).

Since that time I have taught students to blog, usually commencing in year 7 as that is normally the youngest age group that I teach. My new year 7 classes have started to learn the skills of blogging at the beginning of this term.

To support my horrified response that it was not dead, following are  recent stories that I have had from past students and from one of my school teaching colleagues:

  1. One of my past students is now a successful apps developer working for himself. He started in this field as he loved blogging while he was at school. The coding that had gone on in the backend of the blog had fascinated him.
  2. Another student took a university exchange last year, and messaged me to say she had created a blog to document her travels whilst studying in Great Britain. I took an avid interest in what she was doing and could keep up to date by reading her posts.
  3. Michelle, a teaching colleague at school, and her husband love to travel. Last year, when they visited Spain, they shared their updates on Facebook. However, they were concerned that some of the feedback they got was not positive in resultant comments. She wanted me to teach her how to blog so that they could share their travels this way and have some control over possible feedback via comments etc. Faraway Places to See was started and the result is a stunning reflection of their travels on the recent trip to Africa.

When I travel or seek information, I will often search for blogs on the topic as they are coming from people who have experienced, researched or usually have organic knowledge on the topic. Many years ago, I wrote the following posts on why blogging is important and my viewpoints have not changed at all, in fact they are constantly reaffirmed. Blogging introduces so many different skills – digital citizenship, writing skills for local and global use, use of multi nodal media, html coding, development of digital portfolios and much more.

Blogging is not dead and will not be while I and many others teach Digital Technologies! I am as passionate as ever about blogging and want my students to be too!

See  some of my previous articles on

Feel safe with these ideas for blogging with students!

Digital image

Mentor students – blogging

“Blogging – an essential online space” (link to the recording)  was the theme of this week’s Tech Talk Tuesdays. I feel stronly that blogging should be open and online. Why?  Otherwise students should use offline tools to document their learning etc. A question was asked

 “How can we ensure that students are safe and secure whilst blogging?”

Here are some suggestions:

  1. The teacher should model and actively demonstrate safety, security and netiquette through a class blog first. Students will then learn safety aspects and appropriate online behaviour before individual blogging commences.
  2. Students should be taught what constitutes private information and how to protect their private information
  3. Make security and safety an integral part of teaching -give  constant reminders to students. Use any teachable moments as they arise.
  4. Use strong passwords
  5. Ensure that the teacher is a co-administrator of each student blog (for older students) or administrator for younger students (with them being an editor). This allows a teacher to step in and moderate if and when necessary.
  6. Comments should always be moderated.
  7. Blog roll links on the sidebar of blogs to other students should not list the last name of the students. Use first names only.
  8. Teachers should regularly check student blogs, make it part of their assessment.
  9. Encourage parents, teachers and community members (including global) to read the students blogs. Any problems will then be quickly alerted to.
  10. Participate in any online webinars that may be offered to classes  by organisations such as esafety.
Digital image

Learning to blog with mentor students


  1. Students create digital avatars as their visual representation rather than use their photo
  2. Ensure the school has have fully signed parent permission forms before adding photos of students to online spaces
  3. Students should not be named in any photos in  blog posts or pages. It is preferable to include group photos or use photos where faces are not clearly shown. There are software tools to pixellate faces. Read the excellent post by @suewaters Are you using student photos online?

Starting and Sustaining a Blog for Global Understanding


Image source

Starting and Sustaining a Blog for Global Understanding can provide an understanding of your classroom, community, country, culture, ideals, experiences and learning within and beyond the classroom. Before I connect with others, I want to know more about them – are they genuine, who are they, what are they about, do I want to maintain contact etc?  Therefore, I look for their blog or other online space for more information. This becomes important as we become more globally connected.

Blogging is an essential, user friendly, online space that teachers and classrooms should use as it offers a rich learning space and enables ongoing conversations through comments. It enables customized learning. Starting and Sustaining a Blog for Global Understanding was one of my workshops for “Supporting the Challenge” at the recent Flat Connections Conference in Sydney. See the actual presentation below and read further for my notes on this presentation. A resources document has been set up. Please add to it, if you have suggestions.

Some of the popular blogging platforms include edublogs, wordpress, blogger, kidblog. My personal preference is for edublogs (the pro version or a campus) as they provide ready advice, offer some great support materials and online resources and enable the use of multi-media which is essential for global understanding when language differences may be a challenge. Edublogs pro also allow movies and podcasts to be directly uploaded without the need to embed code from eg youtube, vimeo etc.

To get started a blogger will need to understand the nature of posts, pages, links, widgets, hyperlinks, categories tags and the necessity for an “about me or us” page (an essential ‘handshake’ to foster initial interest and encourage ongoing connections and reading)


Comments enable ongoing conversations, provide a base for discussion and enable ongoing learning. Readers can ask questions, seek clarification and share their own knowledge and resources. A blogger needs to know what ‘good’ comments look like and how to moderate them.


Embed media including sound, images and videos wherever possible to supplement or replace text. Images ‘speak 1000 words’ and where languages may not be the same, will show and share so much to provide for global understanding. Stories can be shared in images, videos, sound stories and animated slideshows. Youtube and vimeo videos can be embedded to reflect where you live and learn or links to videos provided.

Widgets for global understanding

Following are some widgts that could be added to theblog  sidebar

  • Clustrmaps, flagcounters to motivate and show the location of readers. They can be used to also teach statistics, the location of countries and the flags of different countries
  • Clocks – eg clocklink provides learning re time zones, days and dates. A countdown clock eg Countdown  or Create a Countdown will alert to upcoming cultural and religious festivals, school holidays etc. A time convertor eg world time buddy will help with the ever challenging time zone differences.
  • Weather – eg willy weather or weather add gadget provide a  global perspective on weather conditions
  • Translate widgets – google, bing to allow posts to be interpreted across languages. Learn how to translate blogs even when widgets are not present
  • Flickr – eg flickr slidr will show the latest photos shared on flickr on the sidebar showing what it looks like in your classroom, community or country
  • A blogroll can share blogs that your classroom might be connected to or that might be of interest from global classrooms, communities or teachers
  • Twitter – enables a feed of tweets to be shared
  • World news widgets eg reuters

Some advanced features

  • Embed the code from powerpoint presentations that have been uploaded to slideshare.
  • Vokis – can be used to introduce yourself in your native language
  • Embed google maps complete with pins that share global collaborations, images and explanations in text. See Skippy’s blog post (manouvre it till you see her pins)

Consider the following:

  • The use of mobile apps for blogging on the ‘fly’ or quickly sharing images, podcasts and videos
  • Choosing a theme that suits mobile reading
  • Taking part in the student blogging challengeJoining a quadblogging group
  • Some countries may block blogging sites


  • Post regularly
  • Read other blogs
  • Comment on others’ blog posts
  • Share new posts on social media eg twitter, facebook etc Use global hashtags eg #globalclassroom #globaled etc
  • Let your blog take direction over time

Useful resources from Edublogs

What suggestions might you have to add to this topic? Please add as a comment below this post.

The Phenomenon that is Blogging

Several weeks ago, I was interviewed via skype by some teachers from Kerala, India about the reasons for blogging. My friend, Sebastian Panakal setup this videoconference. That same day I caught up on my overdue reading of the Edublogger and noticed this post on Help Student Answer Questions on Blogging. Here is my response to the questions posed in that post. 

How long have you been blogging with your students?

I started blogging with students in 2007 –  5 years ago. At this time it was relatively new in schools. There was much fear in educational circles, leadership teams and parents about the potential consequences of public sharing.  However, I had been awarded a small grant to pursue podcasting and one of the conditions of that grant were to use of web2.0 tools. Blogging sounded interesting and what better way to document our e-Journey.
At the same time, the Victorian Education Department had purchased an edublogs campus. We registered  and soon my students and I started blogging with Heather Blakey a professional blogger from Soul Food Cafe as my great mentor. We set up teacher, student and class blogs. Since then, this campus has become global2
How has the educational experience for your students been transformed since you’ve been blogging with them?
Blogging has transformed teaching and learning for me. There is an authentic audience – a global audience – one that is willing to connect, share, challenge, discuss and communicate with us. This audience can provide further information, opinions, suggest resources, seek answers to questions etc which pushes the blogging further. Blogging develops a learning network. Exercise books etc need not be pushed and crumpled in school lockers only to be placed in the rubbish bins at the end of the school year, but student work is out there for their school lives. Students take pride in having an online space and attempt to keep work accurate and pleasing to the eye. It extends their learning beyond the classrooms and increases their exposure to other teachers across the globe eg the Student Blogging Challenge, Flat Classroom Projects. It gives an insight into the complexity of the students – their likes, dislikes, what they do outside school etc. I have got to know and understand students better by reading their posts. Students are no longer confined to their class groupings or teachers within a classroom.
Do you believe that blogs have benefited the education system?
Blogs are of high benefit to the education system. Blogs:
  • are personalized and customized online spaces and a source of pride.
  • enable a full range of media to be used catering for the diversity of student learning styles.
  • are a necessary 21st century digital skill and teaches many digital literacy skills
  • can be used to learn in a practical manner the following:- cyber safety, netiquette and digital citizenship
  • provide an online space for further interaction, conversations, connection and communication with others from across the globe.
  • become a digital portfolio with all their associated benefits. See SkippyRachael, Allanah, Kirsty as examples
  •  extends learning to anywhere and any time  to ie 24/7, supporting a flipped classroom approach
  • facilitates a network that is global
Do you believe that blogs will become a common way of educating people in the future?
As the uptake of technology and online tools increase, blogging will become of increasing importance but how common they will become for educating people is uncertain as MOOCs, tools such as mightybell, learning management systems eg moodle take on greater uptake. I personally believe that blogging will play a crucial role in the next decade at least.
Why has the way of teaching through technology grown dramatically?
  • It caters for a wide range of learning abilities and introduces a range of media that give added impact eg the use of video tutorials as compared to text, using images/cartoons instead of chunks of text for those who struggle with literacy.
  • if a student is struggling with learning from their own classroom teacher, they can find other educators or resources online to help them with their understanding See An uprising of learning at the grass roots.
  • technology allows learning to become accessible from any region – the remotest areas of earth, isolated rural and outback areas, hospitals, cross countries etc
  •  learning becomes efficient eg teacher professional development can be undertaken without the cost of travel, accommodation, hire of buildings etc.
  •  networking is enabled on a global scale and the collective ideas, resources,established or innovative units of teaching/learning, experiences from a combined ‘global brain’ that will push the learning and teaching to more powerful levels.
  • But most of all – it just makes sense. Our students use technology constantly outside school, so why shouldn’t we tap into that teachnology for learning within and beyond the classroom.
What is your opinion of blogging? Has it transformed learning?
I am passionate about blogging. It has transformed learning for me and my classes.

Could you please make sure you put up tasks on your blog?

On Friday, one of my students asked me:-

Could you please make sure you put what I have to do for Monday and Tuesday’s classes on your blog?

When queried further, I learnt that this student was to have a medical procedure that required hospitalisation and absence from school on Monday and Tuesday of this coming week. She wants to keep up to date with her school work.

Each day, I try to put the class instructions on my class blog, students logon, check my blog post and often proceed their tasks before I enter the room. However, due to other time commitments, I have been a bit slack of late with my year 12 class and have been either writing the instructions on the board, or teaching them the lesson procedures.

Click on this link to see the blog post on depreciation for Renee. It had multiple media and links to sites that she and my class could look at in their own time.

Here is a solid example of the importance of digital teaching and learning and …. it comes from a student! It highlights the important role that blogging takes. How many other teachers in the school could she have asked that same question?

Learning to Blog

Blog post summary in a wordle

“Learning to Blog” is a workshop that Britt Gow and I will conduct tomorrow at Warrnambool College with interested staff. Here is a google doc for you to ask any questions that you might have.

Let’s get started:-

  1. Go to global2 and sign up for your own blog. Make sure you are a Victorian teacher in a government or Catholic school. Use your edumail email address.
  2. Login to your email account, click on the link sent from global2 and activate your blog.
  3. Change your password and ensure you remember your blog address and password
  4. Write a short post – holiday/festive greetings, how you hope to use this blog.
  5. Change the appearance and customize to your own liking.
  6. Add widgets to your sidebar, including the meta

Following are some resources for those who are interested in starting to blog or extending their blogging.

  1. Why Blog? 20 reasons why should students blog? (and teachers)
  2. Blogging is a 21st Century Literacy
  3. Types of blogs that we use in our school- teacher blogs, individual student blogs, class blogs, our school blog and special purpose blogs
  4. Victorian government teachers may use the DEECD edublogs campus Global2
  5. Need to be comfortable with posts, pages, widgets, dashboard, comments etc

Some great resources

  1. The Edublogs Teacher Challenge Kick Start your Blogging,
  2. the Global2 Challenge
  3. The Edublogger
  4. The edublogs awards nominees and winners of the Edublogs Awards 2011
  5. The Student Blogging Challenge
  6. Top widgets for the sidebar of your blog
  7. Something fun for this time of the year: DIY decorating for any holiday season
  8. See skippy and chloe for sample student blogs. Note how they have customized them.

What suggestions do you have or what are your favourite resources?

A Class Blog or Individual Student Blogs?


This post is in response to the week 5 Global2 Blog Challenge:– When is it appropriate to use class blogs as opposed to individual student blogs?

Class blogs can be used in several ways:-

  • As a starter process to blogging, allowing a teacher who may be new to blogging to gain confidence in a structured and easily moderated manner. Class blogs allow full control by the teacher.
  • Great for classes (especially the younger ones) to showcase their work, their projects, reflections etc
  • As a connecting and communicating point with other local/national/global classes, with parents and general community members
  • As a complete learning management system lesson tasks, instructions, plans, links, resources, embedded movies/digital media/podcasts etc

Individual student blogs allow(s)

  • Ownership
  • students to have a voice
  • them to share their learning using media that suits their learning style
  • the development of digital journals
  • customization or personalization of the space
  • allows for reflective type journals on a personal basis
  • storytelling on an individual basis
  • the development of e-portfolios
  • search engines to discover the student blog if tagged and categorized appropriately

Some of the benefits of presenting and showcasing student work through individual student blogs include the following:-

  • Empowers students
  • Encourages creativity
  • Allows individual reflection on learning
  • Enables personal reflections
  • increased engagement
  • Provides for an authentic audience ? increased motivation
  • Students can choose from a wide range of media for communciation

Following are some benefits of presenting and showcasing student work through class blogs:-

  • Allows the best of student work within a class to be showcased on one space.
  • Enables group work, peer mentoring, team work
  • Class blogs may be more receptive to a wider network and wider audience
  • Global classes of a similar nature can share learning with each other
  • Enables the parents to connect, view and compare outcomes of students
  • May encourage competition amongst students ? be challenged to a higher level when students can see the work of their peers.

My experiences with presenting and showcasing through class blogging or individual student blogging:-

  • I started with a class blog until I felt confident with blogging.
  • Personal ownership is always more engaging, motivating and the blogs can be customized to individual preferences.
  • My classes are secondary classes and mostly at the senior level, therefore the work that they complete is exercise driven and mostly not appealing to a broad audience.
  • Where does a teacher stand with intellectual property, creative commons, student ownership of creativity etc if work is placed on the class blog rather than individual blogs?

There is a place for both types of blogs and each take on different purposes, but individual blogs should be supported, developed and created wherever possible. What would you add to this question? Please leave a comment and your opinion.
Cross posted on my class blog

10 Things you should know about Blog Comments

blog comments

The third challenge in the Advanced Student Blogging Activity looked at comments on blogs. Here are 1o Things you should know about comments. (They are not in any particular order.)
  1. They are highly motivational
  2. Comments can create conversations and therefore learning
  3. They are a vital point of contact or connection: as blogging provides a global presence, people who wish to learn more about you, connect with you or just communicate can easily do so via comments
  4. Care needs to be taken with comments – use proper English, be positive, use appropriate language. Remember that some readers may need to use a translator.
  5. Always reply to someone who comments on your blog post, read what they are blogging about and ask a question where possible to keep the conversation going
  6. Actively encourage comments by asking a question(s) in your blog post
  7. Ensure you moderate comments to keep spammers and unwanted bodies at bay.
  8. Allow at least 10 mins per week to comment on others’ blog posts
  9. Whenever you read a blog post, please consider commenting to let the blogger know that you have visited – even if it is just to say “Thanks for posting”
  10. You can be updated on further comments added to a particular blog post,  by subscribing to the comment feed.

Some Further reading:-

What would you add to the list of things you should know about blogging?

Rules for Blogging

The second challenge in the advanced Edublogs “Blogging with Students” challenged bloggers to write a post on “My Blog Rules”! Upon reflection here are the guidelines that I ask my students to follow.

  1. Enjoy blogging and the benefits it brings! Develop a great digital footprint!
  2. Use appropriate language at all times – no swearing, slang, words of dubious nature or double meanings. Show you are a good digital citizen
  3. Stay safe at all times: Keep your personal information private eg no last names, phone numbers, addresses etc
  4. Always use complete English ie no Instant Messaging (IM) or txt language. Online translators cannot translate IM.
  5. Use a spell checker.
  6. Global communication: remember different age groups and people from different cultures may read your blog. As your blogs are online, you may be writing for anyone and everyone around the globe!
  7. Take care with images:- do not identify any children, obtain permission to use others’ images, where possible take your own photos, make sure images are appropriate etc
  8. Always reply to any comments: read what commentor is blogging about, respond with a comment on their blog or email them, thank the commentor,ask them a question to keep the conversation going
  9. If in doubt, just do not do it! Once it is online it is can always be found somewhere online.

What have I missed? I need a 10th rule to round this off. What would you add? Have you set up a set of rules for your students when blogging? Do you think the same rules apply for both adults and students?

eT@lking summary: Talking about Blogging

This informal discussion on blogging had a broad range of participants from many sectors of education, included non-teachers. This made for rich conversations.

The video camera was used to good effect with Graham showing a Writing magazine that he had picked up from a newsagent with two great articles on blogging. The whiteboard and chat were used for interactivity and application sharing allowed some blogging sites to be demonstrated. Here is the link to the recording.

From the chat

Below are the whiteboard screen dumps:-

Topics for discussion

Ideas for Building Readership