Category Archives: blogging

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?

ellie1

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

This Week’s Tech Talk Tuesdays and eT@lking

Tech Talk Tuesdays: Challenge Based Learning

Date/Time: Tuesday March 8th 4-5pm Melbourne Australia time (gmt+11)

What is Challenge Based Learning and why should you use it?

Challenge Based Learning is an approach which has -

  • A multiple entry point strategy and varied and multiple possible solutions
  • A focus on universal challenges with local solutions
  • An authentic connection with multiple disciplines
  • An opportunity to develop 21st century skills
  • The purposeful use of Web 2.0 tools for organizing, collaborating, and publishing
  • The opportunity for students to do something rather than just learn about something
  • The documentation of the learning experience from challenge to solution
  • 24/7 access to up-to-date technology tools and resources so students can do their work

from Challenge Based Learning: Take action and make a difference [Apple 2009] p.2

Find out how Challenge Based Learning was used with Primary and Middle Years students, by someone who has actually taught it! This session will be presented by Mark Richardson.

About Mark:- Mark Richardson has taught in primary schools for many years. For the past decade he has been ICT Coordinator at Williamstown Primary School, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. He also has extensive experience planning and delivering professional learning to teachers in ICT / eLearning. His current interests are Web 2.0 technologies in schools, multimedia, using Web Conferencing as a teaching tool, Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy, Moodle / Ultranet, Challenge Based Learning, 1 to 1 Classrooms and anything on a Macintosh.

Mark has an article on CBL which has just been published in Education Technology Solutions #41

Here is thelink to join the session. Please note the room will open at 3:30pm. This session will be recorded

eT@lking: Talking about Blogging

Date/Time: Wednesday March 9th, 8-9pm, Australia time (gmt +11)

Continuing on with our theme on blogging, this session is a general sharing  amongst participants where you can ask questions about blogging eg where to begin, how to write posts, tag, add categories, what to write about etc through to questions on advanced blogging, what makes an effective blog, what place does blogging have in eLearning etc? Come along,share your blogs, your questions and join in the conversations.
Here is the link to the session

10 things You Should Know About Class Blogs

Class Blogs are great! They can have real ‘class’! A class blog is created by a teacher and is often used as a platform for sharing class activities, writings, thoughts, reflections etc Here are 10 things you should know about them!

Please note: this post is in response to the first challenge in the 30 Day Blogging with Students

  1. They are the best starting point for blogging with students.
  2. Class blogs allow the teachers and students to learn together – how posts work, how comments work, how digital citizenship works, netiquette, appropriate digital footprints etc
  3. As the teacher can have full control, any difficulties and issues that might arise can be quickly dealt with.
  4. Students can gain their apprenticeship in blogging with a class blog, before getting a license to start their own blog.
  5. Once the teacher is ready for students to add posts directly they can be added in as editors  or another type of user.
  6. Teachable moments will arise, including blog titles, post content, commenting, adding appropriate comments, behaviour online, cyber safety, plaguarism etc.
  7. Class blogs a are a great platform for connection with parents, staff and the general community
  8. Pages on class blogs can feature many resources eg pages on cybersafety page, parent information page, timetable, homework etcA platform to ‘house’ links to most commonly used resources on a blog roll will allow quick access to online sites.
  9. Develops into a ‘brag bag’ or digital portfolio of a class’s year .
  10. Can become immersed in the classroom as a near complete learning management system, complete with lesson instructions, tutorials, resources, podcasts, reflections, feedback etc. It is available 24/7/365 for revision, lesson planning and more.

Do you have a class blog? What would you say is important to note about a class blog?

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.