- You will have a shiny new blog to use throughout the programme to record your progress.
- You will have tried out how to use a blog, to present yourself, but also as a learning tool.
- You reflect on what way blogs can be useful for curriculum design, or as a learning tool in general.
What is blogging & is it relevant to teaching?
Check out the Wikipedia entry on blogging for a perfectly acceptable definition and brief history, then come back here.
There are numerous blogs and bloggers within the field of lectureship. Blogging puts a natural emphasis on reflection, and that's also why some teachers or lecturers use it in that way: to reflect on their professional experiences, to offer their opinions to other colleagues, to communicate to students or parents, or also as a tool to let students reflect on their own tasks or progress which can then easily be followed by the lecturers themselves. Not everyone is convinced by the advantages of using blogs in lectureship yet, but there are definitely some advantages that can help in certain situations.
- Check out Damien Clark's presentation on how he uses blogs for teaching purposes.
- Or have a look at his blog itself as he uses it in an innovative way with lots of teaching benefits.
- It's also worth reading this article about how blogs could be used by students themselves to support their learning processes.
Blogging during 13 things programme
Blogging is a key element of the 13 Things experience which we'd like all participants to engage with. Every time you complete a Thing we ask you to blog about it. Your blog posts should aim to constructively evaluate each Thing, giving an indication of what you liked (or didn't like) about it. It would also be helpful to offer the reader an ongoing flavour of your experience of the programme. It's worth mentioning that any blogs which contain posts which say little more than 'Done Thing 3' will not be eligible for completion as that is neither entering into the spirit of the programme nor the purpose of blogging. If you want more information on what could go in your blog, it's worth checking the 'FAQ' section of this blog.
We have chosen to give instructions on creating a blog on the Blogger platform as that is commonly known, very quick and simple to get going on, however , you may choose to use the other main free blog provider WordPress instead. Note that if you already have a blog, there's no requirement to create a new one for the 13 Things programme.If you'd prefer to use WordPress for your blog then you will find this comprehensive tutorial by Chris Abraham very useful: Wordpress: Step-by-step (From YouTube)
But having said that, you can just ignore this WordPress information if you would just like to follow our steps about Blogger below.
Step by step instructions
creating a google account
The first thing is creating a blog, and for that you need a Google account in order to be able to do that.
If you didn't know: Google is much more than just a search engine, as it can also provide you with a Calendar, Google Docs, Blogger and many more useful tools! But enough about that, the thing we'll be focusing on now, is Blogger and therefore you need a Google Account.
It's possible you already have a google account, so feel free to immediately jump to 'creating a blog' if that's the case. If not, just follow the steps described next.
- Go to https://www.google.com/accounts/NewAccount.
- Fill out the different fields in the form. The field 'Your current email address' means you're just registering yourself to be able to use the Google features. Therefore, this could be a Google email address if you already have this, but it could also be another email address you're already using, such as a Cambridge email address.
creating a blog
Now you have your Google account, you're able to use many more Google features, including Blogger.
- Go to http://www.blogger.com/ and sign in at the top right-handed corner with your Google account username and password. You could also just navigate to Blogger if you're already signed in (for example with your Google email address). This will bring you to a sign up for Blogger screen. Some of the information may already be filled in for you (depending on what you told Google when you signed up for your account) but you will need to choose a display name and to accept the Blogger terms of service.
- You now need to name your blog, and choose a web address (URL) for it. The address has to be unique so your first choice may not be available. As mentioned in the FAQ, we leave it up to you how you call your blog. If you want to use an acronym, that's entirely up to you.
- Now choose your preferred layout template for your blog. You can change this at any point for a different one.
- Congratulations, your blog now exists! Wasn't that easy?
Your first post
You now need to create your first blog post.
- Click on the orange arrow that says 'start blogging' (if you have logged out and are returning, then click on 'new post' by your blog's name on your dashboard - the screen you see when you log in). This will bring you to the posting screen.
- Enter a title for the post, and then type your text into the box. There is a toolbar at the top of the box which will allow you to format your text and add links and images.
- We want your first blog post (Thing) to be about 1) what your experiences are with curriculum design, and 2) what you would like to get out of the programme. Feel free to also add something about your experiences with setting up a blog, blog post and so on. You could do this in the same post, or in another one but don't forget to give each blog post a title, by also referring to the Thing you're talking about.
- Click the 'Publish post' button at the bottom of the screen, and your first post will be live.
If you would get lost at all at any point above, we could recommend this Blogger tutorial (from YouTube) .
Register your blog and explore other participants' blogs
You've already made your first post, congratulations! Now we want you to 'register' it so the programme team could add it to the list of participating blogs. This allows other participants to be able to view and comment on your blog easily.
All you need to do is visit this URL and fill in the details.
Once you've done that and other participants too, you should be able to see their blogs in the list of participants. Feel free to explore them!
If you're interested in finding out more:
- Much has been written about the value of blogging. Check out the following:
Top Reasons Why I blog by Larry Brauner
- To read about what makes a good blog post, check out:
What makes a good blog post by Steve Wheeler or this post about using images
- There are many bloggers out there who were initially sceptical about its worth, or fearful of publishing a blog.
Read the post at the Totally Academic Blog about these issues.