The term blog is short for “web” “log” and is supposed to be updated with new content from time to time. When a student enters any text, it is usually displayed in reverse-chronological order. A good quality blog is interactive that allows a visitor to leave comments and even a message via a widget. Blogs are also a commentary on a particular subject, but some also serve as a personal diary. They would combine text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic.
Teaching students how to blog can be achieved using these websites.
Several sites offer secure blog spots such as: (Howell, 2012, p157)
- Edublog (specifically designed for education) http://edublogs.org/
- Wordpress http://wordpress.com/
- Tumblr (mainly a photo blog) http://www.tumblr.com/
- Blogger (a free tool from Google) www.blogger.com
When blogging, several elements need to be considered:
- What is posted is public – anyone can read the blog post;
- Little things matter – make sure that spelling and grammar are checked;
- Blogs offer an interesting new space for writing and literacy development;
- Blogs work well with independent and group work;
- Blogs have the potential to connect schools globally.
Literacy development in blogging
The very fact that students need to write a blog post highlights its potential for literacy learning and development. When you think about it, a blog is simply just an online word processor, except that what you write goes public. In fact, word processors such as MS Word have a feature that allows people to blog from its program when they have registered.
A good way to start is to incorporate 10-20 minutes of blogging into your literacy teaching (Morris, 2013). Use literacy rotations where students can read their own or another student’s blog post and write a quality comment whilst practicing their literacy skills. In the end, their collection of blog posts can be added to their digital portfolio.
Other reasons why blogs are useful
Blogs encourage writers and responders to develop thinking, analytical, and communication skills. According to Solomon and Schrum (2010) emphasize that they are brief and short, but the visual elements enhance their presence and students become responsive to one another.
Integrating blogs in the Classroom
As a teacher, it is important to note that blogging can be integrated very easily as they are similar in concept to personal journal writing. Being short and informal they can deal with personal topics and ideas even when they deal with serious topics. Blogging motivates students and this has implications across the whole curriculum.
When students use blogs they write on topics that are either chosen by themselves or assigned by the teacher. They do this with the understanding that a potential audience of classmates or people anywhere can read it. This enables students to continue to be motivated as the knowledge of a potential audience drives them to write more.
Through the use of blogs in literacy lessons, students can also develop their higher order thinking skills as they generate ideas when they brainstorm and organise their writing to help formalise a central focus on their work.
What are the Techniques learned
The techniques learned by students in a literacy lesson whilst using a blog can be categorised into three aspects of learning – computer skills, literacy skills, and communication skills (McCollin, 2018).
Computer skills include:
- Designing for the user;
- Visual design;
- Structuring their site;
- User experience;
- Audio visual techniques.
Literacy skills include:
- Writing for an audience;
- Writing to entertain;
- Writing regularly or to a deadline;
- Writing clearly and competently.
Communication skills include:
- Engaging with audience;
- Communicating appropriately.