Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why Blog?

Why Blog?
This is a post for my JHU Technology and the  Science of Educators (Spring 2010) 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 ;)

Explore some blogs (You can take a look at the blogs I have tagged on www.delicious.com --we will talk about Social Bookmarking in a couple of weeks).
Make some observations about some of the blogs you look at: 
You might comment on any of the following:

* 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! 

40 comments:

ccelli16 said...

Drum roll please… this is my first ever blog comment! In fact, this assignment was the first time I’ve ever read or participated in a blog. That is slightly embarrassing to say since I’m only twenty-six and not computer illiterate. I first learned about blogs about four years ago but never had any desire to check one out. I was under the misconception that blogs were for social reasons like checking out what’s going on in the celebrity world, where I should go for dinner, or where my friend Jess is in her project of learning to knit. Although I of course enjoy my US Weekly subscription, I never felt the need to spend time online for that sort of entertainment. I’ll admit I was totally naive about blogging.
What I found was a plethora of completely useful sites that can be used to keep me informed about the world, keep me connected to teaching, and help me do pretty much anything I want. I checked out a number of blogs tagged on your del.icio.us site and found that there are many different formats for blogs. Some differences I noticed were some of them were cluttered whereas some were very plain and set up like a conversation. I personally found the ones cluttered with multiple links/tags/flashing icons distracting and hard to navigate. I found a number of blogs that were extremely informational but not as user friendly and not encouraging comments. For example, I have become very interested in Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move movement. Today I was researching some blogs to hopefully find one I would like to follow for our next project. Although the Let’s Move blog is very easy to read, very informational, and aesthetically pleasing, I would NEVER EVER try to post a comment on it. First of all there were no easy to find comment links if there were any at all. Second, I was intimidated by all of the posts from doctors, specialists, etc. and did not feel like it was encouraging “normal” people to engage in conversation. So, although I will keep checking back for information I would not consider it for my project. This shows me that not all blogs are equal.
I really liked some of the educational teacher/student blogs out there. I found them very easy to use and completely friendly. For example on “Excellence and Imagination” the blogger had all sorts of information available to readers. There was an archive section where you could follow past conversations, you could see student projects and upcoming assignments, and you could see positive feedback being given to students on their reflections. I would be so pleased if I were a parent of a child in this blogger’s class. Other educational blogs had similar styles where they encouraged students to engage in discussion and keep on top of their work. All in all I have now been encouraged to open my eyes to blogging possibilities. I could see using a blog in the future that I could possibly link to my school’s website. Think of how great it would be for me to communicate with parents, inform staff/students/parents of upcoming events in my program, and have students keep track of their own work. So cool!!!
- Thank you, C.I.

Beth Poss said...

I feel so honored that you posted to my blog as your first (even though it was an assignment and you had too...)! I wonder how many other Digital Natives have never blogged? Guess we'll at least find out from the sample of students in this class ;)

Matt W said...

This is also my first ever blog. How exciting! I also went through most of the blogs that were tagged on Beth's del.icio.us site. (That sounds kind of weird Beth's delicious site) Anyway, i noticed that most of the blogs had a common format. They had either there question or thought posted and then had a comment link or comments posted below it. Most of the blogs audiences were for educators, school communities, and students. All of the blogs were not equal. There were blogs that were for smaller audiences like "Ms. Perry's 4th Grade Blog" and then there were other blogs like "Steve Hargadon's" which was for a much larger audience. There were also blogs like "Educational Origami" which incorporated a lot of pictures. I am still a beginner at this blog stuff but it seemed like the blogs that were on "wordpress" seemed very plain compared to others like "blogspot". (I could be wrong on that?) Beth and others, i have a question about the one link, "High Techpectations". When i was looking at this blog, it had TONS of links and tags. It was almost difficult to find the "comments" link. Why did they use so many tags? Not to get off topic, but i just finished reading the first 5 chapters of our book. I am really excited about trying out blogs and RSS in my class but I am a little nervous about experimenting with the Wikis. :-)

-Matt W.

Beth Poss said...

Matt,
Just like every writer has their own style and purpose for writing, so does every blogger. Some bloggers are really looking for comments and interactions, while others are just posting information to share, and don't concern themselves as much with creating an atmosphere for conversation. Neither is right or wrong--just working at different goals. Also, some folks are just better at organizing information on their blog than others are (and the tool you use for this can make a difference--some are more intuitive--including Blogger--while some are for folks with a bit more of a web design background. I can't speak for WordPress, as I have never used it myself as a tool.

TINA said...

WOW! Can we say slightly overwhelmed??? I have never blogged before and I think I just realized why. I have a big thing about how things look. I know it’s about content, but if what my eyes are seeing is overlapping information, I have a hard time focusing - call it ADD or being OCD. For example, the “dangerously-irrelevant” site and “my wonderful world blog” were too much for me. I think it’s all the side stuff that I can’t deal with. Basically, I noticed that the blog spots dealt with education in some form. Some websites were more informative than others, and others derived directly from the classroom. Therefore, the audience changes based on the purpose of the blog spot. They all had their own unique purpose in that sense. One that I especially appreciated was Mrs. Perry’s Classroom Bog! What a cute site. I love how it allows student interaction and that it’s more user-friendly. One of the tabs off to the side was linked to a Literature Circle Blog. What a great idea! It makes me want to create a page like hers and allow my students to take part in their own learning through technology. Another blog spot from the classroom was the English Corner. Again, students are able to interact with each other while doing projects. Talk about ways to incorporate technology in the classroom! I think I will want to follow blogs from classrooms. They seem livelier and more interesting to me. I like to see how other teacher’s conduct their classrooms, what questions they ask their students and how they interact with their students. Teachers are students for life and as a student I need clear examples of good teaching practices – and not so good ones to know what to avoid! I think if I was asked to blog, I would create a blog that incorporates my teaching practices, ideas and most of all, my students. I would give them the opportunity to interact with my blog, letting them answer discussions and interact with one another.

Beth Poss said...

Tina,
I think that visual display is a part of the content on a blog, and you are right, lots of blogs can be visually overwhelming. I have stopped reading some blogs b/c of this, even though the content is good. I can tell you that as a blogger (even though I tend to blog very inconsistently--mostly when I am teaching and am using the blog as a discussion forum, as we are now), it is very easy to get lured into posting visual content, such as banners and other displays on your blog. You want to proclaim that you use this or are a member of that--it is part of the identity of the blogger. That being said, if your goal as a blogger is to get folks to come back to your blog, the author needs to take into account what their website looks like and how this might impact the readers.

David said...

From reading the previous posts, I’m glad to see I’m not the only one in the class that has never posted to a blog. It seems many of us think we know a lot about the internet, use it every day for various purposes, yet have never participated in blogging. I had so much fun exploring different blogs. I noticed that while blogs all share certain common aspects, they vary greatly in audience, tone, purpose and structure. As Tina mentioned, some blogs are more user-friendly than others. (I suppose you could say the same thing about websites.)

I really enjoyed exploring the Voyager class blog. I thought it was one of the better organized blogs. I noticed the teacher posts prompts or questions for the students to answer. My question here is what happens if students respond at different times? Can students read the answers others have posted before they make their post? That would be like getting to look at other peer’s papers before you turn in your paper. In some situations that may be fine, but in the case of some of the math problems that were posted, it might not be so good.

After the Voyager blog, I moved on to the Educational Origami blog. I noticed this blog served a much different audience. It was more like a journal geared towards educators. I did like that it includes a calendar on the left hand side to find posts by date.

Mrs. Perry’s 4th Grade blog is definitely geared more towards both students and parents. It’s really neat how each student is a contributor and their first names are listed on the right hand side. (It’s smart to include first names only.) I noticed the postings were brief and include a number of photos. I thought it was great how student work is showcased for parents. I’m sure parents of my students would love to see student work posted online. Also, I’m sure my students would really like to have their work published on the web. That could be a great motivator. If students know their work will be seen by the world, won’t they try their best?

High Techspectations seemed a bit more cluttered. I noticed in one post there were tons and tons of weblinks, but no real organization. It was a post of just random sites that caught the author’s eye. I thought it was great how the blogger posted a photo of her on the top right corner of the page. It’s nice to put a face to the blogger, like how we see a face where we read the discussion postings on the ELC.

I really like the two-way interactivity blogs invite. For my first blog, I would like to create a blog for my parents and students. Although I know teachers that have class websites, I can see a blog as being much more interactive. Blogs can allow students and parents to be authors and builders in the content.

On a side note, I was thrilled to learn about RSS feeds. I always saw that little icon on sites and wondered what it was for. RSS feeds are a great way to keep up to date on multiple blogs very quickly. I set up a Google Reader account and I’m sure it will be very useful as I continue to explore, follow, and participate in blogs.

Beth Poss said...

Well, David, you can create a blog for your final project for the course...

Jessica said...

Wow! Like most of you, this is my first time to post a comment on a blog. I have visited several blogs before and even followed a blog (a friend of mine blogs about her two children) but never posted anything on it! After reading the book by Richardson and the ppt, it really opened my eyes on how technology can be very easily and conveniently be incorporated in the classroom.
First of all, I think social bookmarking is such a great idea! I suppose we will discuss this in depth later but I had no idea that such a thing existed. What a convenient way to have access to your or someone else's bookmarks from anywhere where there is internet access!
The blogs on Beth's delicious.com bookmarks varied greatly in terms of purpose, audience, and visual appearance. However, the concept of blogging was clearly observable in all of them. For instance, I saw that all blogs had links, archives, and comments. Blogs are so powerful in creating a place where people can interact online through posting comments and replying to those comments. Also, the archive is great because it's like a history of all the post since the blog was up and running.
On the other hand, many of those blogs were intended for different audience, serving difference purposes. For instance, the Voyager Class Blog, Mrs. Perry’s Blog, and JO – Blogmeister was created by an educator for his/her class. The teachers posted questions which the students responded to, updated on class related news and links to other classes. These were actually the ones I had envisioned my blog to be like while reading the chapter on blogs by Richardson – a place where the teacher, students, and even parents (the stakeholders of education) can come together toward a common goal beyond the physical walls of the classroom. One interesting thing I saw on JO-Blogmeister was that the creator/facilitator of the blog was a teacher in her 22nd year! It was great to see a veteran teacher effectively integrating technology in the classroom. Furthermore, some other blogs were created for professionals. Blogs such as Teaching Every Student, Teach44, and Steve Hargadon: Web2.0 was intended to inform professionals about educational technology. I definitely agreed with Tina’s comment on visual display of the blogs. Some of the blogs had so much written on the page that I was hard for me to navigate through it. Some were very neat and very user friendly. Though the content of the blog is what’s more important, I couldn’t completely ignore affect visual appearance had on my desire as an audience to keep reading the posts.
As I was checking out My Wonderful World Blog, I noticed that it won’t let me go back to the previous page. All of the other blogs allowed me to get back to Beth’s delicious.com bookmarks but this one didn’t! It kept refreshing its homepage. Why does it do that? Just a question for thought…

Kory said...

This was an interesting assignemnt that opened my eyese to new ways tha this echnology may be emplyed. One main thing that I found difficult in reading some of these blogs was the formatting. As such, I decided that I would respond to the thought questions by including them in the post and answering them in sequence.

* What do you see as common components of all/most of these blogs?

It seems to me that most of the blogs that you have tagged all have a section for their postings, somewhere where you can find out more about the person writing the blog and an area where you can comment. Many of them had similar content, education related, but not all of them.

* What are some things that may be very different from one blog to another?

The one thing that stood out most to me as being different from one blog to another was the format of the blog page and the length/frequency of entries. Some blogs seemed to have bloggers that posted every day or nearly every day while others seemed to have months between their entries. The way the page was set-up also varied greatly between the various blogs. I was more attracted to certain formats where the page appeared "cleaner" and better organized making it easier to navigate.

* What are some of the audiences for these blogs?

Some of these blogs seemed to be aimed at toher educators, while a few seemed to be classroom blogs intended only for students and/or their families. I had never really considered the usefulness of a classroom blog before this class but it is a very intriguing idea of one seemingly easy way of tweaking traditional education to include a newer technology. It was really interesting to see how some of the teachers had attempted/accomplished this.

* What are the tone of the blogs?

All of the blogs I looked at seemed very personal and positive. They were educators, or others, excited about their professions and the ideas of advancing themselves and others. The ones that teachers had done as a part of class interactivity (journal entries, or assignments) seemed to be really upbeat and excited about this idea and its possible use.

Kory said...

So apparently I worte too much because it would not let me post it all at once...here's the rest!

* Are all blogs equal? Why or why not?

I think that all blogs cannot be equal because certain people use them to disseminate information and others use them just to journal their personal thoughts and feelings. I also think that the formatting really sets certain blogs apart. If it is difficult to even find and read information on a page, it makes the blog less effective, in my mind.

* 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)

I think that I will likely choose one of the classroom blogs to follow because I am intrigued as to how this can be applied in my classroom and would be curious to see how regularly new posts are put up and what they incude content-wise. I thnik that some of the other blogs, that contain information on professional growth for teachers seem very interesting and beneficial, but that I would learn more currently from watching this technology in practice the way that I am considering using it, rather than reading other informaton.

* 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)

These blogs are clearly more directed on a certain topic and really seem to be set up more to inform people on topics or in a directed effort to engage in discussions. The two blogs that I follow regularly are blogs belonging to friends of mie. One is very much a journal of thoughts and updates on her life and her faith experiences. The other is a self-imposed project on cooking/photography where she tries new recipes and blog about the process/results but also takes amazingly beautiful pictures along the way. It's truly inspiring. Both of thes blogs are far more entertainment or relationship based than any of the ones I looked at for this assignment. I hadn't really thought of them being used in any other way before this but am interested now in seeing those possibilities.

Kory said...

In response to Tina-

I totally agree about the formatting. I almost feel like it is simialr to the "don't judge a book by its cover" rule that we always teach kids, only if I were a publisher/author, I would work my hardest to make sure that the cover of my book was eye catching, intriguing and visually appealing to draw and audience in. In the same way, I think that bloggers should really think about the way their page is set-up and appears to the readers.

I know that some of the blogs I looked at were WAY too jeavy on the words and would immediately frighten/confuse my students, so this would need to be taken into account before creating one of my own.

David-

I also really like the idea of classroom blogs and the idea of the interactivity. My only two questions/concerns would be, how are you thinking of addressing the students/parents with limited access to the internet and what are you thinking the consistency of use would be?

-Kory

ccelli16 said...

It seems like a lot of people have the same feelings as I do about some of the sites being too cluttered. If we're going to be creating a blog in the future I will have to keep in mind that too much clutter/links/pictures/tags can be intimidating and frustrating for the reader. Keeping it simple might be the way to go.

Matt W said...

I was reading about blogs in our book and they were talking about how some school websites are going to a blog format. With a blog format they can update the site much quicker without having to wait for the webmaster of the site to update it. I don't really follow how that would work. If your site was a blog format, would people not affiliated with your school be able to make changes to the site? Are there blogs that require logins and passwords? I saw some blogs that wanted you to "subscribe" to them but i didn't see any logins with passwords.

I am still trying to figure out which blog i would like to participate in for our class. Are most people picking a blog from Beth's list? I guess, i better figure out which one i am going to participate in soon.

Beth Poss said...

Matt--great questions about just how blogs work. Blogs can be totally password protected--you have to login just to access the blog (this can be especially useful for a classroom blog with children's work or pictures, where there is concern from parents about their child being "on the web"). You can have a public blog, but choose not to allow commenting or have all the comments moderated. Moderated comments allow the blogger to view the comments before posting them--I felt compelled to do this after having this blog spammed a few times. Essentially, a blog is a just a website, that can be customized without a knowledge of HTML or other programming language. It can be interactive, as we are using it, or just a place to display information. I think the flexibility and ease of creating a website in this way is what propels some districts to use it as a school website. But wait til we start using wikis--they are even more flexible!!!

Beth Poss said...

BTW--you are not required to pick a blog from the examples I have provided. Feel free to do a google search (you can use your new found boolean search skills!) and find exactly what appeals to you. My choice of blogs has been influenced by my personal preferences and there is soooo much out there in the "blogoshpere"!

Jessica said...

This is in response to Kory's question about reaching the student/family through a blog.
I know that some of you had said that you guys were given 10 laptops per class (I don't have that kind of luxury at our school). Can the students borrow the laptops to use at home? But then the problem is that they probably won't have connection to the internet. I would think that we as educators have to allow for those students to acess the blog at school (before, during, or after school). By the way, once you post something on the blog, is there an edit option? I see the delete option but can't seem to locate the edit option.

Beth Poss said...

Yes, we still have to be aware of the digital divide out there, although it is getting smaller.

As far as editing, I can edit as the blog moderator/creator. Other software may provide different options.

David said...

Kory asked a great question about how to address the students/parents with limited access to the internet and what the consistency of use might be.

I use a number of centers and do center rotations in my classroom. I have three computers in my room. I already have a computer center. Checking and responding to the class blog would fit perfectly here. I’m thinking sometimes I could have my students read and respond to a prompt on the class blog instead of say, using a software program to review math skills. This would allow me to ensure consistency as far as the students go. For the parents, I think that gets a bit tricky. I would have to keep in mind that not all parents will have regular at home access to the blog. Some may be able to get online at work or at the library, but the bottom line is not all parents will be able to regularly access the blog. I suppose the same is true if you have a classroom website. With that said, I think the consistency of use with regards to the parents will be very variable.

One question about blogs -- in responding to another’s post is there a way to layer responses, such as we do in the ELC? For instance, the ELC allows for a hierarchy and I can read all responses to someone’s post under their original post. For instance, since I am responding to Kory’s question is there any way for me to place my post directly under her’s to show it is a response to her post? I know there has been a lot of talk on here about the clean organization or appearance of a blog. Just an organizational thought.

I’ll also mention that I like the idea of moderated comments. I like having the control to review comments before placing them on the site. For instance, if I post a series of math problems, I would not want students to just copy and paste another student’s solution as their own. As Beth mentioned, it allows the host to filter out any unwelcomed material before it reaches the blog. Back to our previous week’s discussion on internet safety and children, I feel a moderated classroom blog is definitely a good way to go.

ccelli16 said...

Matt- to add to what Beth responded about creating a password protected blog with your stuents:
I had this question too and had to re-read some sections of our Richardson chapters to get the answer. If you look on page 50 of our book it explains how to set various "Settings" for your blog. There are four options for when you create your blog and you can choose which level you would like for the one you create with your students. ALso, you can make sure all comments from your students are posted as drafts. This way you can read them before they get published online and that would add another level of security since you can make sure they don't put out any revealing information. Hope that helps!
-CI

Matt said...

Like most of you, this is my first post to a blog. It's not that I've never read a blog, it's just that I've never really felt like I've had much to say to anything I've ever read on one that I couldn't say directly to the person who wrote it. That being said, I have never taken the time to really explore blogs created by people I didn't know until now. Like the rest of you, I found that many of the blogs on the "delicious" site were inspirational as classroom blog ideas. I'd love to set up a blog for my class next year. We are getting a new school next year and have been debating using some of our allocated funding for Netbooks, which would allow us to blog from the classroom. I like the idea of helping my students learn how to write, post, and comment in the classroom. I really liked the format of Ms Perry's website. She had links to all kinds of stuff that was very informative for the students and the parents. On a personal note, I used to play Scrabble with my fiancé on the beach in St. Mary's City where those kids are posing in front of the Dove... ah, memories. Alas, back to the topic at hand. I really liked the format for the Voyager site, but think it might be a little too dark (in coloring, not content), for young children. I think I'd like to use that type of format for the band site that I'm working on through GoDaddy (thanks again to whoever posted that info on the ELC).
I don't think that you can use the word equal to evaluate blogs. Because there are so many blogs about millions of different topics, one person may find a blog to be useful, while someone else finds it to be inane. I do think that within certain topics, you can make an opinionated assessment of whether one blog is more useful than others. For example, we are all educators, so we get excited when we see a really well put together blog like Ms. Perry's that we might want to mimic with our own classes, and might value that blog more than other ones we saw here.
I need to spend more time exploring blogs and gathering ideas. I know the rest of you are doing the same, so I'll take a moment to promote a blog that I check out every now and then. This is the Prince of Petworth blog:
http://www.princeofpetworth.com/
I met this guy back in the fall when I helped him brew a batch of beer (I'm a homebrewer). He writes about lots of events going on in downtown DC, specifically the area between Petworth and U St, including Columbia Heights (where I used to live) and Adams Morgan. So it's a good blog to check out if you're thinking of going out in that area.

Jessica said...

I really like the idea of having the control to see the comments before they get published. I think that way if anything needs to be changed/filtered for security purposes we have the authority to do that. I know that often parents are concerned with their child's identity being exposed online. Having a password to access the blog is a great way to eliminate that worry!

Beth Poss said...

Matt asked about heirarchical (or threaded) commenting on blogs. I do know some pay for blog services do offer this as a tool option. I use Blogger, which is free, and this is not offered, although I do wish at times it was. That being said, there are pros and cons for both threaded and non threaded commenting on blogs. The following is an excerpt from Climb to the Stars, Cynthia Booth's self admitted ramblings on the web:
http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2008/06/02/against-threaded-conversations-on-blogs/
"Then, of course, with some regularity, I’ve heard people asking for plugins to make the conversations on their blogs “threaded”. And I wondered. Why the attraction to hierarchical conversations?

When we have a conversation, be it with a single other person, or around a big table, it flows in one direction: the direction of time. There is before, and there is after. One might say “you said something 10 minutes ago that I’d like to answer” — and we’re quite capable of following this kind of conversation. We do it every day.

I think the appeal of threaded hierarchical conversations lies in the fact that they seem more “orderly” than one long stream of posts, ordered not necessarily by the logic of the conversation topic, but by the flow of time in which it takes place. It’s hierarchical. It’s organized. It’s neat, mathematical, logical. Algorithmic. Computer-friendly.

But is it brain-friendly?

Human beings do not think like computers.
I think people who like threaded conversations like them because they have a higher order of organisation than non-threaded conversations. And better organised should be… better.

You won’t be surprised that I disagree with this. A good conversation online, for me, is one that can be easily followed, caught up with, and participated in. In that respect, a linear suite of comments is much easier to read or catch up with than a huge tree. When it comes to participating, the linear conversation offers only one option: add a comment at the end. In the tree, you first have to decide where in the tree you’re going to post."
She goes on (and on) with this post, but you get the gist of her ideas!

Geoff said...

Hi everyone-

I've had a rough week and it took me until today to get to this assignment with sick twins, but here I am nonetheless.

I have several friends from college, life, etc., who maintain blogs in the 'blogosphere' and I do check them out from time to time when I have a free moment. I have commented on their blogs as I see fit to do so. I would not, however, classify myself as having any level of experience with this social media on any in-depth level.

The blogs that I have looked at are all the same in that no two are alike. I have yet to come across any two blogs that follow any identical patterns or templates. Some are similar in that they follow a general outline, but that is about where it ends. One blog I guess I do follow pretty regularly is 'Statter911' by Dave Statter from Channel 9. His blog is about fire/rescue events and news that happen not only in the DC Metropolitan area, but all over the country. He posts storys about all aspects of the fire service, including internal feuds, fire and rescue events, budgetary concerns in areas, and even good samaritan type events where a civilian has helped someone out in an extraordinary set of circumstances.

Most of my friend's blogs are about their lives, their jobs, their kids, what is happening with their family, things like that. When I looked through the links that you gave us, Beth, I really got a lot of information from the very first link about how to comment on a blog and where to look for certain things. I haven't, as I said, been really into blogs or blogging, so that site gave a wealth of good information and even ettiquette ideas for new people like me.

Blogs are a great tool for people to keep in touch with a large group, and not have to worry about jamming up their e-mail accounts with tons of messages. Some blogs will allow you to post pictures, some only text, some even allow you to post video segments. I liked the blogs that I looked at that had a very clean layout and weren't cluttered. None were so out of control that I couldn't figure out what was going on, but some just seemed to be better laid out than others. This is both a function of the person constructing the blog in some cases, as well as the blog host itself.

It's interesting to me that this was the assignment for this week, as I have been contemplating starting my own blog. It seems like a very effective tool to both share information, and to vent issues if there is no other means available. I am actually quite surprised that I don't have a blog, considering that I am on Facebook, Twitter, have 6 e-mail accounts, and am very into the internet and it's spread of information. I guess the biggest thing that I fear is saying something that is not exactly politically correct, and having it come back to haunt me later in life. Not only do people you would want to read your blog do so, but people who may be potential bosses, educational institutions you may be applying to for post-graduate work, etc. It's kind of a daunting thing to think about who can read them and what impression they might get of you just from your blog.

Geoff said...

Matt-

I like your comments about the blogs, and just to add onto what Beth said, from what I've seen in the few that I've looked at, they are all different. The Wikipedia site is good because many different people can contribute to it, but at the same time, you have to be careful with what you are getting there because you don't know if the person who wrote the information has anything to build on or a background in the subject.

About school sites being set up as blogs. I, like you, wonder how this would work well. Access can be controlled by requiring credentials to log in and post, as well as having to go through a moderator as Beth does before comments are visible. But you have an excellent point that people can comment on things and add items, and that it would need some careful regulation. I don't think that a 'free' blog would work in this case as most of the free ones that I have encountered or heard about do not have a high level of regulatability concerning postings or settings where you can control things very well. It would probably have to be a custom set up or a blog site that you need to pay a fee to use in order to get better control.

Then the problem becomes if you are doing it to rely less on a webmaster, you're still relying on someone to moderate, so are you really gaining anything?

battchief117f said...

Tina-

I like your comments about being ADD and OCD, as I have the same problems. I really have to have information on the web laid out for me in a concise and clear manner, so that I can follow a point from beginning to end. I agree, some of the blogs were way too 'busy' I guess is the right word?

I like the idea of having students blog about their experiences in the classroom, too. I think it could be a great tool for teachers and students to have something like this set up and running in a classroom. It would need to be carefully moderated, though.

Amy said...

Just like the majority of the class, this is my first real blog post. I have to admit I was very unsure of what a blog was. I have heard the term before but never really looked too much into it. I assumed blogging was for people who wanted to let the world know about their daily life (much like a status of Facebook). I did not realize that you can use blogs for educational purposes. This is all new and facinating to me! I also did now know how I was going to find a blog to follow since I don't know too much information about them. After researching many blog sites I was finally able to pick one to follow. I found a blog from a teacher who has been trying to incorporate technology in her classroom. Her posts are about things that went wrong and things that went well with her technology lessons. On several of her posts she mentions her "PLN". Does anyone know what that is?
During my own research as well as viewing the blogs on delicious.com, I did notice that most blogs had the same components. They all had the date and time the blog was posted,a title, a subheading, and a comment box. I also noticed a world map with red dots on some of the sites. I believe this is showing where people are viewing the blog from.
The content of the blog is the main difference that I noticed. All of blogs had different topics depending on who wrote them. I found educational blogs with teachers posting things that happen in their classroom or posting great activities to try. I really liked how Mrs. Perry used the blog as a classroom website. The students and parents were able to view this blog to find out things that are going on in the classroom. She also had links posted on the side to view other types of pages such as educational websites, class pictures, and tips for parents! I also saw blog posts about things going on around the world.
Most of the blogs that I visited were educational so the majority of the audience were either other teachers or students (if the blog was for a classroom). I was having trouble figuring out the type audience for the blogs on the delicious site.
As I was viewing blogs I noticed that a number of blogs had a lot of extra links and ads. These blogs became very difficult to navigate through and follow. I found myself staying in the blog for about a minute and then exiting. Most of the blogs from teachers were very plain but to the point. They were organized in a way that was useful and helpful. Not to mention I didn't want to leave the blog the second it opened. I think having a de-cluttered blog would be more benificial to the people viewing it.
I think using a blog in the classroom is a great way to interact with the students as well as the parents. I think its interesting that there is a whole technology world out there that I knew nothing about! I am looking forward to learning all of these new ways to incorporate technology into the classroom. I think that a blog would be a great classroom forum to utilize.

I agree with a posting I read earlier: I think blogs are a great thing to use in the classroom but, I wonder what would happen with the students who do not have computers or access to the internet. I like the idea of using it in the classroom as a center ( I don't remember who posted this).

David said...

Wow, Cynthia Booth really seems against threaded conversations on blogs. I can now see pros and cons to threaded and non threaded commenting on blogs. I suppose I am just so used to seeing discussion postings threaded as this is the norm in the ELC and other online discussion boards. It seems different to see all posts ordered by time instead of topic.

Amy, I’m glad you like the idea of using blogs in the classroom as a center. I also occasionally take my students to the computer lab. If we are going to the computer lab for an activity, I could also have all students participate in the blog at that time.

You mentioned how some blogs had a world map with red dots on some of the blogs. I remember seeing this on the Educational Origami site. I think it is fascinating to see where others are viewing the same information.

The blog you selected to follow sounds very interesting – a teacher trying to incorporate technology in the classroom. It sounds like her posts would be very relatable and helpful for classroom teachers to read as we are all learning to incorporate new technology on some level. You mentioned how the blogger refers to her PLN and wondered about the meaning of “PLN.” I was very curious myself, so I turned to Google. I found out it stands for personal learning network. It is described as “the entire collection of people with whom you engage and exchange information, usually online” according to http://onceateacher.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/pln-your-personal-learning-network-made-easy/. This happens to be a blog by a former teacher.

Matt W said...

The blog that i have chosen was a pretty busy blog. Unfortunately, almost all of the comments were during the last week of February. What I am finding is that there are a lot of blogs that are only busy for a few days or so. For example, my post was in the first week in March, since all 60 posts before mine were in February, it seems like no one else has noticed my comment. Hopefully, i will get a couple a responses. So, far i enjoy the blogging experience...even if no one pays any attention to my post :) I think a blog on a classroom site could be a very useful tool. I can't wait to learn more about the "wikis". I think a class wiki could be pretty cool.

Rebecca said...

From middle school to undergrad, I used to be a part of a few blogging communities mainly because it was a trend amongst my friends. I never really knew the purpose of a blog, and I didn’t realize that it meant “web log”. I treated my blog as a personal website, primarily for the purpose of practicing and boasting my HTML skills (customizing the border, background, font, tables, etc.) and posting jokes and silly pictures I would find on the web. After observing the blog sites on Delicious, I couldn’t believe how informative and useful blogs could be. This is my first time checking out blog sites that has actually has substance!

Something that all the blogs had in common was that they were thought provoking. The blog entries challenged the audience to reflect on their current practices and think about similar experiences they might have had. All of the blogs were relevant and edifying to the world of education. Another similarity is that the blogs were engaging. There were links that plugged into other blog pages, websites, and videos while other blogs were engaging simply because of the topic that was being talked about.

I noticed that the blogs were also very unique from one another and are definitely not equal. There were some that focused on the blogger – pictures of their class rooms, student work, personal journaling. There were others that focused more on an issue and the entry would include links to outside resources that would shed more light on the matter. There are many blogs that invite the audience to comment on a particular subject for the sake of professional discourse and gathering different perspectives. You can sense the distinct personalities and purposes behind the writing, and see the difference in style of presentation in each of the blogs.

I believe that these blogs are targeted to those who are in the field of education, whether administrator, teacher, staff development, the school techie, involved parents, etc. There were some blogs that invite knowledgeable responses to create a discussion – these responses would evidently be posted by people who have experience or insight of the topic at hand.

The tone I sensed from the bloggers would be that of a casual, conversational, and straightforward quality. The language was professional and mature, not lacking in the areas of grammar or spelling. They were clear in what they were trying to communicate, many articulated the topic well. Yet, the blogs are an easy read, and not very technical. I appreciated the fact that there were some blogs that took note of potential “new readers” and they would give some background information to any acronyms or unfamiliar terms/concepts.

It’s good to know that blogs have been used productively, practically, and instructionally!! This would definitely be something I would like to bring back from my past (beyond the border colors and text fonts)!

Beth Poss said...

Rebecca,
Interesting how even though you have read and even created a blog before, you were not using it as a communication/discussion tool, but more of a design tool. Glad you are now having the opportunity to see other uses for it (all though they are fun to play around with, design wise, too--I am feeling the need to update the look on my page!)

Matt W said...

So far, i am really enjoying the Wiki page. I think Wikis are a great idea for school/classroom sites. I checked out starting my own wiki page for our math department at school. Wikispaces has some "free" site plans. I can see how wikis can be beneficial for a school website. Most sites have a webmaster. When you have every department in your school creating a webpage, it can be very time consuming for the school webmaster to copy/paste all of the material on the site. By having the "wiki" style, the webmaster can allow department heads to have some control of their own department site. By having a wiki page set up for each department, it is much easier to keep the site updated. I was talking to our school webmaster today and she said that i could put something together but it might be a waste of time because almost every school in MCPS will be using "Tron" next year. What is "Tron"? It sounded very similar to a "wiki" type page. As for the wiki page for our class. I think that it is really difficult to communicate with everyone in the class online exactly what we want to do with the site. Once we all have an idea of the direction we want the site to go and start to delegate a "to do" list for the site....the "wiki" style will become very convenient. So, far i am a BIG fan of the wiki pages. Here are a couple questions i have about the wiki pages. Is it possible to create a blog for just our site? (not the main blog for wikispaces). Also, i was trying to add a youtube video to one of the wiki pages. I was not successful. All i could do was create a link to the youtube video. I fooled around with the youtube widget but i couldn't get any videos to appear on the site...just links. Is it possible to load videos directly on the wiki pages?

Beth Poss said...

Matt,
I have to admit I have no idea what a tron is. But I do know how to add video to a wiki page! Check out this quick Jing video I made (we will get to Jing in April).
http://screencast.com/t/M2Y1ZWVmZGE
(not sure why my sound did not capture--,maybe my mike was not on?)

David said...

Here's some info I found on Tron - http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/web/tron/

Matt W said...

thanks beth and dave. i will check out the video and the mcps "tron" link tomorrow.

Eva said...

To blog or not to blog? This question keeps lingering in my mind while browsing on the different blog sites @ delicious.com. I even ask some of my friends, who have been blogging for a long time. They said they do it for fun like a hobby, some said for educational purposes, but I guess on top it, I think blogging is a good source of ideas as well as interacting and networking with colleagues. I also look at it as a means of sharing knowledge with others. I noticed that some blogs may or may not have this component: post rankings (top ten posts). Most blogs have sections for posting comments; list of people who follow the blogs; tool bars to navigate (share;sign in; create) and the blog selection itself. The audience varies from professionals, educators, students, and family. The tone varies from positive to negative feelings like excitement, frustration, persuasion and oftentimes a clearing house of ideas.
It seems to be really confusing at first because there are a wide range of topics even on blogs. I also did my own browsing on topics I am interested in, like the twice-exceptional (due to the fact that I am a special educator), technology in the classroom where I found an interesting discussion about the smart boards or the inter-write boards which we have in our school. I actually end up following some blogs; but I choose “The Innovative Educator” which focuses on integrating technology in the classroom. They have a variety of interesting topics like “Kids Teach Kids with Mathcasting”, which amazed me because I haven’t done any podcasting and I am glad that learning to podcast is included in this course. The experience is somewhat a learning process for me; I discovered that there are blogs that are really informational and very relevant to the course and applicable for teachers and teaching improvement. To be honest, I found myself enjoying browsing on blogs everyday. It becomes a part of my daily search and browsing on the web. It also creates an excitement for me to be able to use these different ways on how incorporate technology in my teaching even with my special education children. There is always a room for new things like knowing how to use the RSS feed to follow and subscribe to blogs. It is funny, because I do not even bother to know what RSS is until I took this course, I usually see RSS but really never pay attention to what is it and its purpose.
Although incorporating this kind of tool in instructing students especially the younger ones, educators should be aware that certain parameters should be established first before teaching and allowing students to use blogging. I can personally recommend “blogging” as a tool for learning in order to enhance skills and creativity in writing. This can also serve as a kind of an electronic “portfolio” where students can write their thoughts and feeling on a variety of topics and interests.

Beth Poss said...

Very thoughtful comment, Eva. For some reason this posted under an old post--not the one for this class.
I am glad you are finding that it is useful to you to look at blogs regularly--I get great information on what I do from a variety of blogs, and I enjoy the interactive nature of it, too.

Pink said...

This is my first blogging experience although I created a wiki page for my students and update on a regular basis, I never blogged before. My wiki is like I post educational audios/videos and articles for them to review -- more likely one way. After reading the first 5 chapters of the textbook, I have different thoughts on wikis, blogs, and RSS. It was exciting to learn about RSS; I have been subscribing 8-9 feeds such as BBC, Delicious, EduBlog Insights, Excellence and Imagination, Ideas and Thoughts from an EdTech, The Fischbowl, and Weblogg-ed, etc. I like Ideas and Thoughts from an EdTech blog because it has more visual aids such as HD videos, YouTube, etc. It summarizes the main idea the blogger wants to share with others and it's a new way of blogging to me. Most sites keep rolling down the page and is very monotonous. I will keep following this site to learn more about blogging for the next two weeks. I also liked the Richardson's comment on wiki as WYSWYG-what you see is what you get. Who can better explain about wiki than this? It's exactly what wiki is. I also agree the quick and easy Hawaiian term of wiki. My next step is to mobilize these tools in my class. Blogging will be a great tool for collaboration if I can use more creatively. Integrating RSS to my classroom won't be my option, though. That can be done outside the classroom if I have enough followers to share ideas and thoughts. This week's assignment was very challenging; however, I learned a lot about these must-have tools for education. More to come.
Michelle S.

Juli said...

As others have posted, I found there was a wide range of formatting. Some blogs were so distracting.....I couldn't concentrate on the topics. there were others like Mrs. Perry's blogs that were extremely easy to follow.

I have recently implemented blogs into my German IV class. I have them answer reflection questions after we complete a reading assignment. I would love to have classroom computers to be able to offer blogging during class as well.

One thing that I have struggled with is how to handle computer difficulties. What I mean by that is when a student comes in and says: "My computer is down, or My mom canceled the internet service." I made an announcement that lack of technology is not an excuse for not turning in the assignment on time. If you can't post by class time, then bring your post in written form. Anybody have any suggestions?

Juli said...

Another thing that I like about some of the blog sites is that you can direct your comments to indivduals. I like this form because you can comment directly to one person instead of making a general statement.
I am looking forward to learning more ways to utilize blogging in the classroom. So far, Wordpress is accessible at school. Hopefully, the powers that be won't decide to block it with the county's filter.