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Introduction

Blog stands for Web-log, a writing space to organize thoughts and share information with others.

Edublogs are blogs used for educational purposes. In education, the Weblog is becoming the favoured Web-presence; educators and students alike are taken by the blog's advantages over the traditional Website. Without being radically different, the date-stamped blog structure lends itself to regularly updated personal records and comments on current Web-based resources, with quick and visible responses from other bloggers. In this way a Weblog becomes an accumulation of writing and other content maintained by a community of Webloggers who share a common interest. This easy interaction facilitates the development of learning communities.

Benefits for Teachers and Students

Edublogs can be a useful resource for educators to find information related to their particular discipline or interests. In effect the blog allows colleagues to act as filters or judges of content form many sources and to allow as many editors as they like. A second major advantage of using blogs in this way is that the content of a blog can be guaged by the confidence the reader has in their colleagues contributing to the blog.

Teachers can use weblogs to provide an area to point students to useful resources (to see an example, click here) and discuss issues arising as part of a teaching and learning program.

Here you can see a sample of weblog used by a teacher to give his/her students information about a course schedule

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To see more click here.

Typical of weblogs employed for teaching would include:

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Links to websites as resources

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Observations on learning content

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Discussion forums

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Learning resources

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Syllabus (to see an example, click here)

Teachers make articles available to read electronically. Blogs maintained by individual students or a class enable teachers to assess their studentsí thinking patterns and depth of understanding.

As a consequence, the learners are self motivated and learning together.

Here you can see a sample of blog used by a student as a diary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To see a sample of blogs mantained by a class, click here

Pedagogical background

The emergence of blogs as a component in the two-way flow of information on the web has opened up exciting new avenues for the educational community. The potential of weblogs in education is almost limitless. Also, blogs are easily linked and cross-linked to form learning communities. They help small groups communicate in a way that is simpler and easier to follow than email or discussion forums. They promote cohesiveness and group culture.

The school blogs show how even the newest writing form can get all pedagogical. When teachers see something kids actually like to do, they're not slow to catch on to ways to make it educational as well.

Each student has his or her own blog where they write about school camp, post their book reviews - and, of course, complain about the horrors of homework.

If the idea is to get the kids writing and thinking, it seems to be working, even if sometimes the spelling isn't so good.

Children's involvement with web-sites has to more than a posting of a few pieces of their work on a third person's static web-site for a non-existent world to see. There is no ownership in that. The school blogs can give children their own soapbox, their own voice. They become habitual writers.

Here you can see an example of blog used by a students as a class diary:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


To see more samples, click here

Tools

There are two main types or styles of weblogs that are generally called a filter style and a journal style.

The filter style of weblog is where the author filters through the vast mass of information available online and selects and makes available on their site what they consider to be the most useful, interesting or important for their audience.

The journal style of weblog is more of a free form and open structure containing the author's views, opinions and thoughts.

Weblogs are fully functional Web sites with built-in tools. The main features of a weblog as a publishing tool are:

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Ease of use where the author can publish to the web without the use of any programming code

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There is no need for installing any server software on the users' machine

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The user has extensive control on how their weblog looks and operates

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Whenever the user edits his or her weblog the results are instantly updated and available to others

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Like any other website weblogs can be simply linked to and navigated

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Technical requirements

Generally, blog software comes with a personal Website for those who donít already have one. The software captures your words in dated entries, maintaining a chronological archive of prior entries. In the spirit of sharing inherent to Net culture, the software and the personal Websites are usually free.

If you already have a web site and you want to use weblog sotware to publish to, you simply need FTP access to it. But if you don't already have a web site, usually most of the weblog software allows you to create one.

Weblog Software

Hosted Services

Hosted services allow for webblog software to be run on an external web server where the user publishes updated pages to a specified location on the web. A hosted service has some significant advantages for the user because of the simplicity of installation and setup. No existing web space is required and through the use of existing templates the user can create and use a weblog very rapidly.

Weblog Software

The alternative to using a hosted service is for the user to obtain their own weblog software which allows customization to specific needs and website. Examples of available weblog sotware include:

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Blogger

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GreyMatter

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Movable Type

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 Manila

Blogger

Blogger gives you a way to automate the blog publishing process without writing any code or worrying about installing any sort of server software or scripts. And yet, it still gives you total control over the look and location of your blog.

Prospective users create an account to allow log in and are guided through a process of creating a blog including decisions about title, description, public status and whether the blog is open to the public.

If users have a web server, a FTP facility allows for this. Alternatively the weblog can be set up on Blog*Spot which is Bloggers's free hosting service. Templates are provided to determine page format which can also be customized through the use of HTML.

Blogger offers several key features including:-

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Archiving of posts

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Management of membership

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Adding of permanent links allowing other websites to link directly

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A "BlogThis" feature which posts a link from a currently browsed site directly to a user's weblog without entering Blogger

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An ability to add a search engine to a blog is possible which allows users to search content. Blogger recommends a free online search engine product named "Atomz"

The basic Blogger service is completely free. The only "payment" required is that to include a link back to Blogger.com to help spread the word. There is also a subscription version of Blogger, called Blogger Pro. It offers advanced functionality, and can be upgraded at any time.

Greymatter

Greymatter is an example of the purchase of software rather than using a hosted service. It is a Perl based weblog system which is installed on the users server. It features:

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An advanced template system allowing the user complete control over the interface

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A facilty for uploading and building entries around images.

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Simple bookmarking of other websites directly back to the blog.

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Built in search facility to allow visitors to search entries

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Simple file uploading

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An archive option

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No limit to the number of authors who are able to add entries to a jorunal with customizable
access levels for each author.

The use of Greymatter or similar products intoduces a considerable degree of complication for the user in comparision with a similar weblog such as Blogger described previously. It involves finding paths to files, setting permissiona and configuring script permissions. However, because it runs completely on a users server, reliability is never dependent on outside influences.

Movable Type

Moveable Type has all the features offered in Greymatter discussed previously, excepting a built in search engine. However, it does provide for a relatively easy installation, a very clear templating system and importantly, a single administrative point for multiple web logs. This means that a single entry can be posted to multiple weblogs in one operation rather than posting multiple times.

Manila

is available through Manilasites. It can also be purchased as a part of the Frontier web-hosting software package, available from Userland. Manila allows students to create a website where they can start a new homepage every day. Old homepages are archived and can be accessed via a linked calendar. Manila provides users with a simple interactive format that makes it easy to create and post professional-looking web pages. It has been used effectively in school contexts by students as young as age 10.

Links to some sites (just click the title to access the site)

Blogger (free)

GreyMatter (free)

Movable Type (free)

      Manila (payable)

Target age

From Primary School to University.

Acknowledgements

The above informative material is adapted from:

Blogs; Learn to Blog, Blog to Learn by Jay Cross; What are SchoolBlogs?  by Peter Ford and Adam Curry; School Blogs  article from the Sydney Morning Herald (May 16 2002); Creating a new Schoolblogs Site  by Denise Wood; Weblogs In Education by Peter Ford and Adam Curry; Shoreham Elementary Schoolís website ; Washington State Universityís website; The Richard Stockton College of NJís website; Centenary College of Louisianaís website.

Click on the names below if you want to submit a presentation:
patrizia corasaniti
maria rosaria chiummo:



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