Blogging as an Instructional Tool

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Slide 1

Web 2.0 – the “read/write” web…blogging as an instructional tool.

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In the beginning, there was Web 1.0 (but we didn’t call it that at the time), and it was good. In a basic Web 1.0 setup, the webmaster updates the web site, which is hosted on a computer connected to the Internet, and independent site visitors receive the site content. Notice how all the communications are one way only. To post content on a site, one had to be technical and know how to compose pages in hypertext markup language, otherwise known as HTML. Eventually, applications were developed that were similar to word processors and enabled non-technical users to create basic web sites. Web 1.0 is still alive and well, and it continues to serve basic needs.

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In the Web 1.0 paradigm, webmasters create static sites which individuals actively seek and visit for information. Examples range from getting a weather forecast or sports scores to posting homework assignments for students. Would you believe that at one time, Yahoo! actively asked site owners to submit their information to get listed because they had no way to index new sites automatically? Yahoo! now charges hundreds of dollars for a commercial listing in their directory. While the graphics and overall presentation have certainly improved since these dramatic examples from over a decade ago, Web 1.0 is “read only” and not read/write; it is not interactive.

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What we now know as “Web 2.0” emerged around 1999. In a Web 2.0 environment, users interact with each other, both on a particular site and possibly on other sites. Two major differences between Web 2.0 and Web 1.0 are interaction and that users can be creators as well as consumers of information.

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Web 2.0 means a lot of things. There is no universal, clear-cut definition. From this point forward, we’ll focus on one element or example of Web 2.0: blogs.

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One of the most common examples of Web 2.0 in action is the “blog” which is a contraction of two words: web (as in World Wide Web) and log (as in personal log). It started as a basic personal diary shared online; it has since evolved into a highly interactive, participatory element of Web 2.0.

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While Web 1.0 is one-way and not interactive, Web 2.0 is very interactive. Here are two examples of commercial blogs from popular sites. On some sites the site owner creates posts and users can respond, while on other sites, anyone can post and anyone can respond. Responses may or may not be moderated – that is, reviewed before they’re visible.

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Web 1.0 required at least some degree of technical savvy to design and maintain a web site; in today’s Web 2.0 there are myriad online resources that not only let one create a professional-looking blog, but many are free of charge for personal use. Of these (and there are more), Blogger, owned by Google, is one of the most popular. MySpace and Facebook, two extremely popular social networking sites, have blog characteristics, but aren’t pure blogs, per se.

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Setting up an account at Blogger is about as easy as signing up for an email account. Follow the simple directions or use the “Learn more” resources.

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Use the “check availability” link to ensue the blog address you chose isn’t taken. It does not have to match the blog title.

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You can change the template whenever you wish, but it’s probably best to stick with one.

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Again, posting is very similar to composing an email message, but with a much larger potential audience.

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Given the large potential audience, you definitely want to ensure your post is the way you want it before notifying others.

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Some blogs show comments in reverse chronological order. Note that with Blogger, your students can post without an account, but they should provide a name (not last name) so you know whose comment you’re reading.

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Anyone can comment (if you set it up that way) but an account is required to post.

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Nothing’s perfect, and there are a few drawbacks to using Blogger or blogs in general.

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An idea for math in the middle grades is to have students calculate the height of various tall objects using shadows and the concept of similar triangles, then posting their methods/results on a blog for others to comment on.

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LAL students can use any medium they like to learn about a recent news event then analyze and share it with other students.

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Social Studies students will focus on finding an article in any medium on some aspect of the local economy.

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This example can work in almost any class, and is quite authentic - think cell phones, iPods, Xbox, etc.

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The challenge here is to choose a language that students can type - Chinese may not work so well.

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So, what are you waiting for? Put a toe in the water and get started!

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1 Web 2.0 “Read/Write Web” Blogging as an Instructional Tool G. Michaels Intro to Educational Technology Prof. Annemarie Stoeckel NJCU Fall 2009

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2 In the beginning… Webmaster Users “Web 1.0” One-way communication

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3 Web 1.0 examples One-way communication! Yahoo! in 1996 Weather.com in 1996

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4 …then things got interactive Webmaster Users “Web 2.0” Complex communications

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5 The new paradigm of Web 2.0 Original Source: Markus Angermeier Source: http://kosmar.de/archives/2005/11/11/the-huge-cloud-lens-bubble-map-web20/ URL: http://kosmar.de/wp-content/web20map.png Author: Luca Cremonini Source: http://www.railsonwave.it/2007/1/2/web-2-0-map/ URL: http://www.railsonwave.com/assets/2006/12/25/Web_2.0_Map.svg

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6 Blogs http://www.flickr.com/photos/hawaii/2089328125/

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7 Commercial blogs wunderground.com espn.com

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8 Blog hosting services

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9 Sign into Blogger Go to Blogger.com and sign in with your Google Account, set up an account, or learn more about Blogger.

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10 Create/name your new blog Once you’ve signed in, click “create a blog” and name it – it must be a unique name and should be easy to remember.

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11 Choose a look Choose a template whose colors and layout you like.

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12 Create a post Pose open-ended questions to stimulate higher-order thinking. View Post after publishing.

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13 View and share your post Check your post – is it correct and complete? If so, share the URL with your students.

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14 Review comments Comments become visible under the original post as they are made. Students without accounts can comment but need to use a name or code to get credit (note Anonymous posting).

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15 Lots of features Up to 100 people can be designated as authors who can post to the blog. There are four levels of restriction (starting with none at all) on who can comment on posts. Automatic email notification for new posts/comments. Many other formatting, privacy, and other options.

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16 Drawbacks At this time, there is no threading or comment nesting (i.e., can’t comment on a comment like in Blackboard) in Blogger. Some schools block/filter access so demonstrating and using Blogger during school can be difficult or impossible. Some students may not have easy Internet access outside of school.

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17 Blog ideas Math Students use similar triangles and shadows to calculate the height of large objects, sharing the results via the blog; extra points for unique objects. Students may comment on each other’s work with questions. MA.7.4.2 - All students will develop spatial sense and the ability to use geometric properties, relationships, and measurement to model, describe and analyze phenomena. LA.7.3.2 - All students will write in clear, concise, organized language that varies in content and form for different audiences and purposes.

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18 Blog ideas Language Arts Students will identify a current or recent [news] event, then post on how it might impact their generation. Students will comment on three other students’ blog posts, agreeing or disagreeing and incorporating supporting information. LA.9-12.3.2 - All students will write in clear, concise, organized language that varies in content and form for different audiences and purposes. LA.9-12.3.5 - All students will access, view, evaluate, and respond to respond to print, nonprint, and electronic texts and resources.

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19 Blog ideas Social Studies Students will locate an online article on the local economy and briefly summarize how and why it’s relevant to the current topic being covered in class. SOC.9-12.6.5 - All students will acquire an understanding of key economic principles. LA.9-12.3.2 - All students will write in clear, concise, organized language that varies in content and form for different audiences and purposes. LA.9-12.3.5 - All students will access, view, evaluate, and respond to respond to print, nonprint, and electronic texts and resources.

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20 Blog ideas Technology Students will each post a problem they’ve faced when using technology. Students will also help solve others’ problems by commenting on at least three posts with constructive suggestions/solutions, citing supporting online resources. TEC.9-12.8.1.12 - All students will use digital tools to access, manage, evaluate, and synthesize information in order to solve problems individually and collaboratively and to create and communicate knowledge. LA.9-12.3.2 - All students will write in clear, concise, organized language that varies in content and form for different audiences and purposes. LA.9-12.3.5 - All students will access, view, evaluate, and respond to respond to print, nonprint, and electronic texts and resources.

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21 Blog ideas World Languages Students will each post an open-ended question in the foreign language being studied. Students will respond to at least three other students’ posts. FL.9-12.7.1.A.1 - Demonstrate an understanding of spoken and written language, as expressed by speakers of the target language in formal and informal settings through appropriate responses. TEC.9-12.8.1.12 - All students will use digital tools to access, manage, evaluate, and synthesize information in order to solve problems individually and collaboratively and to create and communicate knowledge.

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22 Go for it! A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step… Set up a “test” blog and try it out by yourself or with friends, family, or colleagues. When you’re comfortable with it, roll it out to your favorite class, then scale up to the rest once you’re ready!

Summary: Summary: A brief background on the history and evolution of Web 2.0, leading up to blogs; includes very brief primer on setting up account on Blogger.com, and concludes with five suggested activities across five different subject areas, including NJCCCSs.

Tags: education lesson blog blogging standards instruction

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