National Writing Project

Digital Toolbox: Blogs

Date: January 30, 2009

Summary: Weblogs, or blogs, are online publishing platforms that support individuals in posting text and multimedia on the Web. This article explains how to start a blog for use in the classroom.

 


Blogs explained in "plain English."

Writing project teachers and their colleagues have found blogs to be a useful addition to their teaching and learning practices, both professionally and in the classroom.

A blog (a contraction of the term Web log) is an online publishing platform that supports teachers and students in posting text and multimedia on the Web, usually in chronological order.

Why use blogs?

Blogs provide a way for students and teachers to publish text, audio, or video for a wide audience of readers and responders. Blogs can be used for many purposes in the classroom: to journal ideas, to share news or research, to post group reflections around a topic or a set of topics for others to comment on, etc.

Most blogs have a variety of ways to share this content too—in addition to posting content on the Web for direct viewing, most blog services also include RSS broadcasting. This allows readers to subscribe to the blog via an RSS reader if they choose.

New forms of blog-related technologies that tend to support shorter posts and single multimedia posts, and interact more flexibly with cell phone technologies, have also emerged. Examples include Tumblelogs and Micro-blogs .

How do I start using a blog?

One of the best ways to see how blogs work is by reading blogs. There are many sites online that will help you find blogs of interest. Check out Google's directory of weblogs , for example.

The list of blog hosts is expanding. Some blogs are free to use, while others include advertising or require a subscription. Some blogs are developed as open source packages while others are commercially available.

Most blogs share these benefits:

  • An easy-to-use interface
  • Management tools to allow for editorial control of site and publication options
  • The ability to post multimedia
  • Predesigned themes to help you design your blog
  • The ability to broadcast via RSS to subscribers.

Requirements for Use

Users typically create an account to use the service, and since the blogs are stored online in a shared Web space, users must have Internet access to access their blog.

Related Resource Topics

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