Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What is a Blog?

This is a post for my JHU Technology and the New Science of Educators course. I was trying to decide how to present information about what a blog is and I decided that what better way than to do it than within a blog post! Plus I can encourage folks to respond to my blog, since they are getting graded on their class participation. (of course anyone out there in the blogosphere is welcome to comment as well) Wow, I love the power of being in education ;)

1)Take a look at this great description of what a blog is from Commoncraft


2) Take a look at the blogs I have tagged on del.icio.us (we will talk about Social Bookmarking in a couple of weeks) http://delicious.com/possbeth/blogs
Make some observations about some of the blogs you look at:
  • What do you see as common components of all/most of these blogs?
  • What are some things that may be very different from one blog to another?
  • What are some of the audiences for these blogs?
  • What are the tone of the blogs?
  • Are all blogs equal? Why or why not?
  • What other comments do you have about these blogs? (Remember you will be choosing a blog to follow for 2 weeks--it can be any of these or any other blog related to your educational interests)
  • How are these education related blogs similar or different from any blogs you may have looked at on a more personal interest level (ie, politics, news, sports, etc)
I look forward to your comments!

24 comments:

Matthew said...

Hey Beth and All,
I wanted to let you know that I went to a presentation featuring none other than Will Richardson last night at Salisbury University here on the Eastern Shore. He was a very engaging speaker!
Matt

Beth Poss said...

Matt,
I am so jealous! What great timing! I hope you have some wonderful nuggets of information to share with us over the rest of the semester.
Beth

Matthew said...

Beth & All,

I am not trying to be critical or anything, but in answer to one of your questions:
"What do you see as common components of all/most of these blogs?" I did notice that with most blogs there seems to be a sense of cyber confusion. I mean it's hard to tell who's talking to whom and what they are saying. The overall layout or formatting of most blogs is very confusing in my opinion. I think your blog by contrast is one of the most straightforward ones I have seen. Even our buddy Will Richardson's blog, which I see you have included on your list, is quite confusing in my opinion. Maybe the seeming obfuscation is to inculcate a sense of community, but I find it has quite the opposite effect. I like the community aspect of blogging but heaven help me find a blog I can navigate in less than an hour.

Matthew

Beth Poss said...

Opinions are always acceptable in a blog comment! And thank-you for the praise on the organization of my blog. I do try to keep it staightforward and uncluttered. A good way to look for a blog that you like is to look through the "link backs" to other blogs that many blogs have within their postings. Remember your blog evaluation assignment that is due on Oct 7th does not have to be a glowing recommendation of a blog, but rather your opinion on the blogging experience.

emeraldearted said...

I have to say that I agree with Matt as far as there being "cyber confusion" some of the blogs are very disorganized...kind of a modge podge of information- but I guess a blog is full of different peoples' opinions and we all express our thoughts in different ways- so there is bound to be some disorganization. As far as some differences I noticed about the blogs- did you know that on some blogs you can click on a country's flag and translate the blog into that country's language? And you know- some of the blogs are written very formally and others remind me of blogs you might see on myspace or facebook- only with an educational topic. I also noticed that some blogs are controlled/mediated by more than one person- such as several teachers from one school. Interesting- I think some of the blogs mean well- as far as sticking to one subject to discuss and explore- however like Matt said and I agree with...there is some confusion- and I become disinterested and look for a new blog.

Anonymous said...

Happy Weekend Everyone!

Two of the questions for this week are: "What are some things that may be very different from one blog to another? What are some of the audiences for these blogs?"

Check out "The Fischbowl" blog. It includes such a sad story, about a funeral but something totally unique to blogging or social networking. Friends and family are now posting picts. and thoughts about lost loved ones on their sites. "Flicker and "My Space" have been used for this. I have to say that in this case the audiences would be very specific and "community" based. That is great in my opinion. My cousin passed a few years ago (so young), and we all used a web site dedicated to him and kept up with his progress and ultimate demise. The blog part of the site enabled us to encourage him and his family when he was living and then allowed us to grieve when he passed away. This is really cool. I remember seeing and reading messages from classmates-my cousin and I were the same age-that really helped me cope with the loss. So the social element of blogs can really differ vastly.
Matthew

Mr. Ewen said...

I'm especially struck by the question "are all blogs equal?" i've been playing with blogs at school and following personal blogs at home and I see that so many blogs, educational or otherwise, never actually start a two-way (or multi-way) conversation. They instead act as an online bulletin board where one person posts and folks just check on the posts then go about their business. Judging from our reading, and from certain other types of blogs, this is not ideal. I want a blog to be interactive. I want it to be home for a large community. I want it to allow participants to take admin posts, and comments, into new directions and really allow the admin to be the facilitator of learning, not the source. What I really want to know is if all blog communities are equal? Polls and slideshows get hits, but what inspires people to de-lurk? To join the conversation?

Anonymous said...

I thought you might all enjoy this from the "Kim Komando Show Website."

"Blogs are for angst-ridden teenagers and overly opinionated writers, right? Think again!
These days, more and more companies are turning to blogs to get their word out. And now, government agencies are getting in on the action.
Even the Supreme Court of the United States has a blog! It provides an intimate view into the workings of the Court.
You can learn about justices' opinions on certain cases. Or, find out what cases it is scheduled to hear. You'll also find commentary and analysis of its decisions.
The Supreme Court often hears controversial, high-profile cases. So you may feel the urge to comment on the Court's decisions.
You can't comment directly on the blog; comments are disabled. But you can e-mail postings to friends and family. Or, share it on Digg or Facebook.
We will all have our own opinions on the Supreme Court cases. But, no matter where you stand, you'll find this blog fascinating!"

www.scotusblog.com

Matthew

Beth Poss said...

What features of blogs did you like or not like on the websites that you looked at? What specifically made one site more appealing than another?

Colleen said...

I found some of the blogs to be very interesting. All of them, similar to most blogs, have a list of recent blog posts, lists of comments made, photographs of some kind either about the author or concerning the different blogs, and usually some kind of information about the owner of the blog. What is nice is that some blog sites automatically format the sites so that it will logically and cleanly take care of the different elements of the blog. I would say however that all blogs are not equal, each blog has its own identity, the blog created for 4th graders is going to be less technical then a blog about the CCNA exam. The credibility of the blog’s author also effects how equal two blogs on the same subject are, even though anyone can create a blog because of free speech, the author should be investigate whenever you are reading a blog. These educational blogs are very similar to some of the ones that I have followed, many contain pictures, regular posts, and links to other information pertinent to individual blog posts.

emeraldearted said...

After looking at more blogs I feel like many blogs are like journals-I agree with Colleen- they all have their own voice-their own audience even! For instance "Student 2.0" where each blog entry is written by a student- and is written like a journal entry almost like a reflection on whatever is going on in their life at the moment. Webblogged- a blog on the art of writing and on using the net was interesting- because you could connect to many other blogs that were connected to the subject of writing- sort of like delicious....As someone who doesn't really go looking for blogs- I found this useful to have many options at my fingertips- for browsing. For any subject that you have an interest in you can find a blog for! I think when I choose an educational blog to follow- which I will be looking for today- I am going to look in the field of art education....I'm curious to see what other art educators are writing about...what's on their mind...any suggestions they have as art teachers that may build upon or improve my ideas for the classroom.So the answer to are all blogs equal? Is definitely no...I think for many different reasons...depending on your interest you may find others more appealing, the writing style for instance, the organization, the audience the writer is looking to capture,whether it has extras- like pictures, drawings or other artifacts....

Matthew said...

I saw this online last night and thought how timely it was for our class.

"Microblogging site Twitter has added an election site that uses its trending and search technology to perform real-time analysis of election-related posts of its users.

The election site -- launched to coincide with Friday's presidential debate in Mississippi -- features highlights of "hot election topics" that are determined by Twitter user search queries. The site also includes a ticker of posts that is updated every few seconds."

Matthew

Rebecca said...

I had never looked at blogs (or rather, never realized I was looking at blogs when I actually was) before this class, and I have to agree with Matt -- they are confusing to navigate! Especially with educational sites, I'm finding it difficult to sort through legitimate comments to consider, and the spouting of frustrated individuals. I'm following one blog right now about teaching gifted children, and I love the format of this one. Basically, the author (who's credentials sound good, but who knows!) posts a comment every few days quoting research and experience. Then, you click on the comments on specific postings. Its a nice contrast to the "comment, comment, comment....." style.

To the person who commented on the "Fischbowl Blog," I've used blogs of that nature before (wihout realizing they were blogs!) and agree completely with the positive support system this type of communication allows. I've also seen something similar which expectant mothers use which is fabulous for folks who have family all over the world. Our PTA just started a blog as well which I am interested in tracking a bit. My principal is worried about the "forum for b**ching" it may allow, but I think it'll put some comfort in parents' hands. I did suggest to PTA that they setup some more focused threads though.

Matt talked about the election site....has anyone gone to thegreatschlep.com yet? Bascially its Sarah Silverman trying to get the younger Jewish crowd to go to Florida to convince their grandparents to vote for Obama. Its very funny and at the end she sends you to a facebook group that seemed "blog-like" to me. There people can coordinate rides and discuss their thoughts about sending a Pro-Obama message. Definitely a new election tactic...

emeraldearted said...

I was really interested in Twitter- and so I went on and registered. It is really interesting how it is following the election and the kind of feedback twitter users are giving every second. It seems kind of like facebook- except like AIM and facebook- with less applications...it focuses more on direct live contact. Interesting! I encourage you all to try it if you are interested in social networking.

Flavia said...

Hello everyone,

The feature found in blogs that I like the most is the embedded website links. I love being able to have that instant elaboration on an issue that I am reading about or the quick access to a relevant document. Although I generally agree with all of you that characterize blogs confusing, I did notice that the blogs that represented classes were actually very organized and straight forward. As an educator, I see this as an opportunity, and would like to attempt something similar with my classes. I specifically liked Julia Osteen’s class (JO—blogmeister). It is very straight forward and adds a fun way for students to collaborate and continue the learning process outside the physical boundaries of the classroom. As a direct result of this assignment, I have discovered that blogs are yet another constructive way that we can meet our students on their ‘playing field’.

On the question of ‘blogs being equal’, I personally feel blogs should be taken lightly. As I am sure we all noticed, blogs can be created and written by anyone, for free. This makes it almost impossible to guarantee the authentic nature of the information. This being said, blogs can serve as a wealth of resources, we just need to be cautious readers.

Flavia

Jonathan Talley said...

the blogs i found were not to hard to get through. I found a couple about teaching in baltimore city that I found really cool.

Jonathat Talley said...

I found a blog about a parent of three and all three of her children go to schools in the city, I think that I am going to follow her blog.

Beth Poss said...

Joel posed a great question in his comment, "what inspires people to de-lurk? To join the conversation?"
Obviously, interest in a topic is the first key in getting someone even to visit a blog site, but as far as posting, I don't know. I do know that I started to comment more frequently on others blogs when I started my own blog and found out how great it is to have feedback on what you write. I also think that you have to be very motivated by what a blogger says to respond back to them--either in the positive or the negative. I think that for educators using a blog as a classroom tool, while commenting or posting may initially be a class requirement (as it is for this class) that having another avenue for conversation, where you can actually put take the time to review and think about what you are saying/writing is very releasing--class conversations and in the moment discussion doesn't always give you that opportunity for reflection and once it is said, that is it, no taking it back. This is all great food for thought on using a blog educationally.

Rebecca said...

In education we always talk about making students feel comfortable, and equitable practices when choosing students to call on, present, etc. As Flavia suggested, using a blog would extend learning outside the limits of the classroom, so maybe it also give the students who do not participate in class the opportunity to do just that.

From peeking at some of the blogs around, I am indeed a lurker. I don't know that I feel inspired to comment on anything just yet. I agree with Beth though - when I feel strongly, either positively or negatively -- that may be the time to share my voice.

Rebecca said...

In education we always talk about making students feel comfortable, and equitable practices when choosing students to call on, present, etc. As Flavia suggested, using a blog would extend learning outside the limits of the classroom, so maybe it also give the students who do not participate in class the opportunity to do just that.

From peeking at some of the blogs around, I am indeed a lurker. I don't know that I feel inspired to comment on anything just yet. I agree with Beth though - when I feel strongly, either positively or negatively -- that may be the time to share my voice.

Colleen said...

I think that Rebecca has a great idea about getting students involved by creating a blog for a class. I think that there are a lot of ways that blogs could successfully be used within classrooms, it is unfortunate that many school systems are anit-blog, anti-wiki, or other similar items.

Tiffany said...

I think the common coponents of a blog were nicely outline in the video clip. They pretty much are organized in the same way (chronologically) and provide a means for people viewing the blog to provide responses/comments. I think the content influences how they differ from one another. The blogs that we viewed were related to educational topics/intersts compared to the personal blogs (ranging from the mundane to the profound) that I'm use to viewing. The overall tone appeas to be welcoming in order to promote dialouge about the subject matter. Not all blogs are equal. There are some blogs which are more intricate, requiring the user to sift through a lot of unnessecary or redundant information.

Geoff McIntyre said...

There is a wide variety of information presented within those blogs with an even wider potential availability given all the links to other areas. I have to admit I didn't know as much as I thought about how blogs worked and what they are before this. The opening video explained them quite well and the blogs themselves were more organized, focused, and informative than what my perception of a blog was. Some blogs were much more extensive and in-depth than others depending on the creator, the reason and the audience for the blog. The 4th grade blog seemed to be something extremely useful and fun for those students and parents. I haven't honestly checked out too many blogs prior to this but most were one person's general complaints on a topic. Its amazing to see the worthwhile contributions of so many people on both a personal and professional level out there for anyone to read and comment back on.

Geoff

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