- What is a Blog/Weblog?
- Considering Uisng a Weblog (or Not)
- What are the Issues with Weblogs?
- Weblog Practices and Resources
What is a Blog/Weblog?
In short, a blog (or weblog) is a series of notes on the web.
The word "blog" was declared as the word of the year in 2004 by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, who defines it as
A web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.
From Wikipedia (dated July 18, 2006) blog is defined as
A type of website where entries are made (such as in a journal or diary), displayed in a reverse chronological order.
- A journal or diary, where content is added or updated regularly.
- A static website, where changes are not made regularly, but can be easily made, without have to knowing the nitty-gritty of website design. Weblog has a simplistic way of adding (and modifying) content, which makes it ideal for general users and quick updates.
Considering Using a Weblog (or Not)
Considering Using a Weblog?
If you are considering whether to use a weblog, either for yourself, or as a part of your course, applying the answers to these three questions may help you in determining the importance and need of a weblog for your situation. As with any other technology/tool, weblogs may or may not be suitable for you.
Why would I need a weblog?
You may want to have a weblog if you like to write a journal entry daily and share it with others. You want to have a simple website present which can be easily updated. If you have one or both needs mentioned above, a weblog will work well for you (refer to weblog use above).
What are the Skill and Computer Requirements?
Users’ skill requirements: Basic use of a web browser, including searching the web, filling out web forms and some typing. Additional skills may be required to add advanced elements, like multimedia and custom changes to the interface.
- Web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Mozilla, Netscape, Safari etc).
- Minimum speed Internet (such as dial-up) connection is sufficient, unless it involves audio/video, such as podcasting or audio/video streaming, where higher-speed connection is required (such as DSL or cable).
What are the Issues with Weblogs?
- Intellectual property and copyright
- Unmoderated media
- Weblog’s life span and portability
A list of weblog issues are discussed here.
Weblog Practices and Resources
You may have pondered about using weblog in your teaching, but wondered about how to implement it; Is there any learning value to the students, will it improve teaching? The "Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education" (Chickering and Gamson, 1987) provides guidelines in considering whether using weblogs in a course or in a classroom improve effective teaching.
With careful planning and proper execution, weblog can promote such good practices, for example:
- Blogging encourages contact between students and faculty
- Blogging encourages active learning
Although blogging has been around for almost ten years, there have been few studies of its pedagogic value. However, we can find numerous discussions, postings, and weblogs about pedagogic aspects of blogging in recent years. Weblogg-ed, a compilation of ideas on using weblogs in your teaching,offers the following benefits of weblogging:
- providing students with the opportunity to practice their writing outside of class, using a medium (computer and the internet) which is comfortable to them.Weblog can be used as a simple web authoring tool. By blogging, students practice critical thinking and reflective process on a subject of interest.
- allowing students to share their thoughts and opinions and to comment to other’s thoughts and opinion. It provides a peer-review environment among students in a non-intimidating medium.<
- providing a collaboration space.
Examples of how others use weblogs in a course or a classroom:
One of the very good examples of using weblog in a classroom happens to be The T.A.G. Blogging Machine from J.H. House Elementary School in Conyers, Georgia. It is interesting and exciting to learn how the students express their opinions and ideas in writings. [Learn more]Ellison and Wu from Telecommunications, Information Studies, & Media, Michigan State University, in HigherEdBlogCon 2006 [http://www.higheredblogcon.com/] presentation titled "An empirical test of blogging in the classroom":
“Students particularly enjoyed the “commenting” feature of the blogs.” The preliminary result of the empirical study finds that students felt the commenting feature and blogging to be a useful and fresh approach to learning. In addition, students value the interaction with peers in their blogging assignments.
Ric Jensen from Journalism Department, Northwestern State University, Natchitoches, Louisiana, in HigherEdBlogCon 2006 [http://www.higheredblogcon.com/] presentation titled "How the integrated use of blogs and Blackboard can improve a university public relations class: A case study":
Introducing public relations students with blogs as public relations toolkits.
Examples of how other institutions use weblog in an institution-wide setting:
University of Waterloo – First year students experience about life at UW. [Learn more]
Princeton University – the weblog service supports blogs for departments, administrative organizations, faculty research projects, faculty collaborations, student groups, student publications, classes, etc. [Learn more]
University of Minnesota’s UThink – supports teaching and learning, scholarly communication, and individual expression for the U of M community. [Learn more]
- Halavais, A. (2006). “Weblogs and collaborative web publishing as
learning spaces.” The International Handbook of Virtual Learning
Environments. Weiss, J., Nolan, J., Hunsinger, J. & Trifonas, P. eds.
The Netherlands: Springer Ferlag.
Blood, R. “The Weblog Handbook: Practical Advice on Creating and Maintaining Your Blog,” 2002, Perseus Publishing.Downes, S., “Educational Blogging,” Educause Review, September/October 2004 Volume 39 Number 5. [Read article].Farrell, H., “The Street Finds Its Own Use for Things,” Crooked Timber, September 15, 2003. [Read article]Maag, M., “The Potential Use of Blogs in Nursing Education,” Comput Inform Nurs. 2005; 23 (1): 16-24, 2005, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Trammell, K.D. & Ferdig, R.E., “Pedagogical implications of classroom blogging, December 22, 2004.
Warlick, D., “Classroom Blogging: A Teacher’s Guide to the Blogosphere,” 2005, Lulu Press.