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Getting started with blogs

WordPress. Blogger. Xanga. Tumblr – These are all websites you’ve heard of before. Ever since the Internet has become interactive, blogging has been one of the best online outlets for expression and communication. But how can it pertain to the classroom, other than another distraction for students using laptops? There are actually plenty of ways you can usea blog to  learning in your classroom.

An overview

As a refresher, a blog is a website that allows writers to easily post text, images, videos, links, and other materials. The use of blogs has grown from just one author writing a personal diary online to multiple authors contributing to one blog themed on similar subjects. Most blogs are interactive and allow readers to comment.

Terms that are helpful to know

  • Post: A single blog entry is a post. Each blog post is time-stamped, and typically these posts appear in reverse chronological order on the blog home page.
  • Category: Each blog post can be categorized into a broad grouping of post topics. These categories help with the organization of the posts.
  • Tags: Tags are similar to categories, but they are more specific. Each blog post can be “tagged” based upon the content within the post. These tags help readers identify what the post is about and find content quickly. Tagging posts is optional.
  • Subscribe: When you subscribe to a blog, all posts on that site appear in a reader application. You can view all of the latest posts from all of the blogs you follow. An example of this would be using Google Reader (google.com/reader).

Blogging as a tool for teaching

Your blog can be used in a number of ways, depending on what you want the students to get out of the experience. While the set-up of your blog may be the same as a typical blog, it can be used in entirely different ways. You can:

  • Have your students blog as a way to reflect on class discussions
  • Encourage interaction between students by having them read each other’s blogs and post comments.
  • Open the course blog up to the public, so students can write for a real, public audience.
  • Start a conversation before class. Get your students thinking prior to class by posting a question or something thought provoking.
  • Continue a conversation from class. Keep your students engaged after class by posting a question or something thought provoking.
  • Hear how Elon instructor Victoria Shropshire uses blogs in her writing course. Visit
    to view the video.

Anatomy of a blog

Below is a screenshot of a recent blog post on Elon’s Technology blog. Keep these key points in mind when starting  your own blog:

 

  • The name of the blog is “Elon Technology Blog,” which is featured at the top of the blog.
  • The blog posts are listed in reverse chronological order and each post indicates the author and date published.
  • Each blog post is categorized. Those categories are labeled at the bottom of each post. A reader could also navigate to a particular category by using the navigation on the right side of the window.
  • Each blog post is tagged. Those tags are labeled at the bottom of each post. A reader could also navigate to a particular tag by using the tag cloud.

Getting started

With that information, you’re ready to get started with a blog of your own. We suggest you follow these steps when becoming a certified blogger:

1.Decide on your blogging platform: Popular blogging platforms include WordPress (wordpress.com) and Blogger (www.blogger.com). Elon University has its own instance of WordPress that is used for academic blogs. Contact Teaching and Learning Technologies at x5006 for assistance in creating a blog and to discuss ways to use a blog in your courses.

  1. Create an account.
  2. Customize your profile.
  3. Start blogging.
  4. Visit http://www.educause.edu/library/resources/7-things-you-should-know-about-wordpress for more info.
Casey Brown

Casey Brown

Casey Brown is the Writing Intern for Technology with Elon University's Teaching and Learning Technologies Department.

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