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What is a Blog?
The 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
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
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.