Tag Archives: howto

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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Moodle Tool Guide for Teachers

A few weeks ago, a Social Media Cheat Sheet was doing the round. A nice visualization of the pro’s & cons of each social media channel, but with a business/marketing focus. I thought I should do one for social media use in education. However for most of the teachers I work with, our Moodle (EIT Online) is still their primary online teaching environment. So instead I set out to create this poster size guide for teachers, allowing them to compare the functionality and pedagogical advantages of some standard Moodle tools, adding a column to indicate how tricky the tool is to set up.

Moodle Tool Guide for Teachers (icon)

Moodle Tool Guide for Teachers

Hope you find it useful. Would appreciate your feedback.

Moodle Tool Guide for Teachers (PDF)

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7 Habits of Highly Effective Online Discussion Participants

I’m just starting up a new session of my Online Facilitation course and came across this resource I created over a year ago. Thought I’d share it with you all.

7 Habits of Highly Effective Online Discussion Participants

1. Use the subject line
2. Quote the other participants
3. Check in (nearly) every day
4. Use highlighting & lists for easy reading
5. Use links
6. Use Right Mouse Click
7. Post in the right place

Picture by Flickr user DailyPic

1. Use the subject line
Be descriptive in your subject line. It should be an accurate summary of your post. If you are replying to someone else’s post, also adjust the subject line. “Re: Topic 1” tells others nothing new, but “Re: Topic 1 / My thought” does.

2. Quote the other participants
Quote the particular phrase or part of the post that you are responding to by saying for example: John posted: “Bla-di-blah” and I agree with him because…
By saying only “I agree with John”, you will make the other participants browse through 50 of John’s posts to find out what you are agreeing with.

3. Check in (nearly) every day
It is a good habit to check into the online discussion on a regular basis, particularly if a discussion is only designed to run for a couple of days. For instance, at the beginning and end of a working day, 15 minutes each time. This will help you keep up with what’s happening online. Log in only once a week and you may end up with a MMM (Multiple Message Mountain).

4. Use highlighting & lists for easy reading
You’ve probably experienced that reading from a screen is more tiring and difficult than reading from paper. Spare yourself and your fellow participants the headache, and highlight key phrases & keywords by making them bold. If you are making a number of points, then order them in a list. This will make it easier for others to scan your messages.

5. Use links
You will undoubtedly run across a web page, blog post or article that you want to share with others. Avoid copying and pasting entire sections into your post. Quite apart from the copyright issues, it seems unfair to add to your fellow participants reading load. Instead quote or paraphrase the pertinent parts, relate why you think it is significant or useful and include a link to the original resource.

6. Use Right Mouse Click
If someone has included a link in their post, click on the link with your right mouse button and select the option Open Link in New Window. This will open the link in a new browser window and give you continued access to the discussion forum in the existing window. In newer internet browsers, you can choose to Open Link in New Tab.

7. Post in the right place
Make sure that the forum or discussion thread you are posting to, is the correct place for your post. If it is a social enquiry, it should go in the Social Forum, if it is a request for help, the Help Forum. If it is a reply but the messages have gone a bit off-topic, you may want to start a new topic.

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The Really Really Short YackPack Quest

  • 17.36 – Added a YackPack to my PBwiki sidebar a while back, but doesn’t seem to be working as it should. Any suggestions, fellow work group members?
  • 17.38 – Oh wait, just saw that I can click to talk, but can also click to go to a YackPack WalkieTalkie web channelexternal link page that was ‘automagically’ created.
  • 17.39 – Wonder who’s online to trial this. Ah, J. in Canada is on Skype…
  • 17.44 – J. and I yacking away on the Walkie Talkie page. Bit of an echo on her side, she says my sound is clear. Little number in right bottom corner let’s you know how many people are viewing the YackPack button and could be potential yackers. Works like a WalkieTalkie which I used to love as a kid.
  • 17.46 – J. and I now also yacking away on my PBWiki Sidebar. This stuff is too easy!!!

PBwikiexternal link offers YackPack as free plug-in, no messing around with code, just click the Insert Plugin button when you Edit page. Great for working together on a wiki. You can see when your collaborators are online and yack with them. I have added a Recent visitors plug-in as well, so I can see not only how many but who’s online.

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