Monday, 10 August 2009

The how, what, why and where of blogging

image: Flickr ehoyer

This is a guide I have developed for students who are having to write a blog for the first time as part of their studies.

Whatever the format and purpose of your blog, this guide is intended to give you some ideas about how to get started, what sort of things to blog about and how to do it safely and easily.

First you might want to look at this short video

And here’s a blog entry about the usefulness of blogging.
Here’s another blog exploring the value of the blog in learning…..

If you are setting up your own, web-based blog, a good place to start is where you will find simple and clear instructions on how to begin and how to customise and develop your own blog.

Getting started

A great way to start with blogs is to read other people’s first, so you get an idea of what you want to write about and the style you might want to adopt. Here are some others to look at- as you see the topics and intended audience can be very varied:

See if you can find others – search via Google blog search or “blogs of note” on

Key tips for blogging

*Start with a short introduction about yourself and your blog and invite people to make comments, giving you feedback.

*Most people feel very self conscious when they first start to blog and think they have nothing to say that anyone else will be interested in reading. Gradually your confidence will increase – but only if you practise. As with most things, little and often is the key.

*Blogs don’t all need to be in words! You can easily upload pictures and even videos to illustrate what you want to say, as you will have noticed in some of the blogs listed above.

*One important tip is not to write your blog first in a different programme (say, a Word document) and then attempt to cut and paste it into the blog. Although technically this is possible, you will probably encounter problems with the formatting and the finished product won’t look the way you intended.

*Don’t forget that you can edit and re-edit your blog as often as you like (in Blackboard, just click on “edit” at the top of the entry. With Blogger you can save entries as drafts until you are quite sure you want to publish them – but even then you can go back and change them at any time!

*Make sure you stay within copyright law if you are using videos, pictures or quotes: everything needs to be fully acknowledged and referenced just as in a conventional assignment; you may also need others’ permission to use their images or illustrations.

*Take care of your digital identity! A simple guide and workbook on the protection of your privacy and development of a positive online identity can be found in this free download

*Blogs can be used for collaboration and as forums for discussion: a post by one user can have a number of comments added which takes the form of a conversation between the author and their audience.

*Blogs can have multiple authors and so many people can contribute to the development of a body of knowledge. This is an example of a multi author blog.
*Use tags: in order to find linked postings for specific subjects, “tags” or labels are used – short descriptions which identify the key topics. Make sure you tag your own postings, and click on topics in the list of tags in the side panel of this blog, to find posts that might be of interest to you.

Feedback on this guide is welcomed. There is a space at the bottom for you to leave comments. Why not leave one now? Do you agree with the points made? What is your view? I’d be really pleased to get some feedback from you.
Thanks for reading!

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