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What is a Blog?

Example of The Daily BlogThe word ‘blog’ is shortened from ‘web-log.’ It is a webpage(s) where you can easily publish text, images, videos, links and sounds. Your latest postings are always shown at the top of the blog page, giving the feel of an online diary. An important feature of a blog is the facility for readers to post comments on the content of the blog. (However, this can be disabled.)

What are Blogs Used for?

It is estimated that there are 50 million blogs in existence, with a new one being created every second. People use them for all sorts of things, but usually the idea is to share thoughts, ideas and opinions. It is a simple a way for people to publish. It might be a diary, a travelogue, family news, business updates for customers etc. Most blogs automatically create an RSS feed so that readers can ‘subscribe’ and be alerted to any updates that have been made, through their RSS reader . Over the last few years there has been an ever growing interest in using blogs in education.

Why use Blogs in the Classroom?

There are a number of ways in which blogs are being used in the classroom. A blog can be public or private (accessible only with a log-in.) The ability to comment can be enabled, disabled, or restricted to certain people. This control opens up many opportunities for sharing work. The difference is that by blogging, learners can share with a real and mass audience. They are writing with a purpose, and with the audience in mind. They are also writing with the knowledge that people can comment on what they have written (assuming you’ve enabled this.) This motivates the learner to check their work more thoroughly, plan more carefully and pay attention to accuracy. It also gives them a reason to write, and can be very motivating.

Examples of Classroom use

  • The teacher posts a text and asks for comments (eg a news item.)
  • The teacher posts prompts for writing and students post their work as comments.
  • The teacher posts an image and asks for comments.
  • Invite online discussion about different topics.
  • Showcase pupils’ work (can be text, image or sound/video) and invite comments from parents and carers.
  • Link a class with another class in another country to share work and discussion.
  • Ask pupils to research a topic and post relevant links to the blog.

eSafety and Related Issues

Obviously with anything published to the internet it is essential to consider eSafety. We suggest you only use a made-for-schools secure blogging platform through which you can make private blogs. If your blog is going to be ‘open’ for viewing, never publish pupil information or identifiable pupil images, or school information that you wouldn’t want published on the school’s website. You should consider writing under made up pseudonyms, which can be part of the fun. You should set the blog to have comments moderated by the owner, so that nothing can be published without your approval. Please read our eSafety information pages here. Before starting blogging you should make an Acceptable Use Policy which everyone concerned should read and sign. You should also get parental permission. Also, as the blog may be accessible across the internet, you should discuss issues such as free expression, inappropriate, libellous or defamatory content and copyright.

Starting a Blog

  • Kidblog This service is designed for setting up private blogs for your pupils, which can be shared with classmates or with parents, through passworded access. You'll need parental permission for <13s and be mindful of Data Protection legislation.
  • Primary Blogger Another service based on Wordpress, and aimed at schools wanting to blog as a communication tool. It is not aimed at pupil use.
  • Edublogs, as the name suggests, is aimed at education. You cannot make private blogs but you can restrict to some extent who can respond to your blog. It’s a free service but there are premium options.
  • MakeWaves   This is an educational social media platform which enables blogging and more.

Always read the terms and conditions of any blogging service you intend you use. Some services do not allow use by children under 13, or require parental permission. Be aware of E.U. Data Protection laws when using personal information of children or adults on online services.