Anatomy of a blog

This morning I was asked to teach an Introduction to Blogging session to a class of new students in Early Childhood Teaching. As part of their first assignment they are asked to blog for 8 weeks about an “education and society” topic of their choosing. Unfortunately we were unable to book a computer lab (rarer than hen’s teeth on Monday between 10-12), so I agreed to teach a one-hour session and support that with tutorials and a Blogging support forum in our Moodle course site.

There was a wide range of existing blog experience in this class. A few had never accessed a blog (or just didn’t raise their hands) but two students blogged regularly as part of their Early Childhood Centre teams.

In last year’s course we ran a computer lab session in which I introduced blogging and then helped students set up a WordPress.com blog. Eventually this proved a little overwhelming for some. “Too many settings”, they said. So this year I changed my session to allow choice of a blogging tool, ranging from very simple (Posterous)¬† to a little more complex (Blogger) to more complex but with most options (WordPress.com). In fact, and this was probably a duh-moment, but I think that not doing it in a computer lab, helped me focus the session away from the tools and more on what blogging is about and how they can use it to support their learning.

I began by establishing a common vocabulary, explaining the anatomy of a blog by demonstrating my own and some of Alec Couros’ ECI831 student blogs. I labelled all the parts for them: blog title, post, category, etc. during the session. But then I thought it might be helpful for first time bloggers to have a graphic that labels all the parts in our Moodle course. So I created the graphic below. Your feedback is appreciated and feel free to use it if you’re doing an Introduction to Blogging session.

Anatomy of a blog

I look forward to seeing how their blogs develop over the next few weeks. I may get you, my PLN, to provide them with some comments.

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6 thoughts on “Anatomy of a blog

  1. Hi Joyce,
    This is a very interesting exploration of the issues involved in persuading people to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty in the blogging business. I have tried a few approaches in the past, and usually failed. I may well use your diagram in some of my sessions, if that’s ok with you. The bells and whistles which appear on most blogs may be confusing to some people, and this explains it well.
    There are a lot of barriers, though. Some people simply don’t like to have yet another ‘account’ (even the word is off-putting). I agree that simplicity is required, and I prefer to give WordPress a wide berth, with beginners. Currently I am adopting a very simplistic approach, i.e. ” a blog is just a simple web page, which mostly consists of words”.
    I wonder if… it’s a good idea to get people started just by getting them to comment on others’ postings. Then it may feel more like a forum to them?
    Just thinking out loud now. It’d be good to hear more about your progress though…
    Paul
    @paulbrichardson

  2. Ian says:

    Hello Joyce,
    Thanks for the post. Thanks for the graphic.

    So you are asked – apparently at the drop of a hat- to teach students how to Blog. Not easy.

    @eSimplify

  3. Joyce Seitzinger says:

    @paul thank you for your comments. if it’s useful, yes please use it, my stuff is creative commons.

    ideally? well these are students studying in a blended delivery mode, only on campus 1 day a week. i would:
    – have a 6 week coaching program set up in their online course, incl things like what is a blog, etc etc
    – encourage them to view examples, other student blogs, and discuss these with me in an online forum
    – encourage them to comment on a few blogs
    – let students choose a topic and share that with the class in an online forum
    – in week 2 or 3 have a 2 hour session hands-on session (for those that want it) helping them get set up with their own blog
    – continue coaching as they begin to blog and comment. get my PLN to help me do this.
    – not have the students blog for 8 weeks, but throughout their 3 year degree

    Regarding your comment about having a blog ‘feel more like a forum’… I think a blog is distinctive from a forum, in that one person (the author) has a different weight/control of the medium. So I’m not sure I would use a forum as a metaphor…

    I’ve just set up a Yahoo Pipes to collect their feeds. At the end of the week, 5 out of about 20 students had submitted their blog address. Will keep you posted…

  4. Joyce Seitzinger says:

    @ian you’re welcome :-). It wasn’t entirely at the drop of a hat, my language was misleading there. I ran a similar introduction session last year. However the teacher only booked this one with me 5 weeks before and I couldn’t make the first date she requested, meaning there was more time pressure on all of us as this blogging assignment is assessed. I’ll be strongly encouraging that we book this well in advance next year. And maybe make some changes too…

  5. Hi Joyce, what program do you use to make up your graphics?

    Sarah

  6. Joyce Seitzinger says:

    Hi Sarah, I use SnagIt for my screenshots. Has great shortcut keys for quick capture and has those nice little balloons. Also outputs to various files.

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