Definition:

A blog is the basic writing tool that learners use to have conversations about what they are learning. What makes blogging a Web 2.0 external image 66412680_ed38ac9d3a_m.jpgtool is that it is social, interactive, and has the ability to be accessed through an RSS feed. Blogs connect to other blogs through hyperlinks, tags, and comments. Through blogs, educators can participate in professional, connected conversations with other educators, with students in their classroom, or with parents of their students. A blog community can be set up privately between students in a classroom, or be published publicly for global interaction. Blog have RSS feeds that can be subscribed to, so that new content comes to the subscriber whenever published. A blog is more than an online journal, because not only is it hyperlinked and subscribable, but it has the ability to be commented upon and connected through conversation.
A great introduction to blogging can be found online at the K-12 Online Conference, called Blog If You Love Learning, an Introduction to Weblogs in Education, by Mark Wagner.
Photo credit: Rob works on typing up a FC Swarthmore blog post in Flock by skyfaller on Flickr.

Sample Blogs

Sample Educator Blogs

There are so many extraordinary blogs by educators, and the number is growing exponentially each day. The sampling of blogs below are an excellent starting point that will challenge your thinking and connect you with other outstanding thinkers in the edublogosphere.

Brian Crosby - Learning is Messy
Clarence Fisher - Remote Access
Darren Kuropatwa - A Difference
David Warlick - 2 Cents Worth
Jeff Utecht - The Thinking Stick
Vicki Davis - Cool Cat Teacher
Wesley Fryer - Moving at the Speed of Creativity
Will Richardson - Weblogg-ed

For a more comprehensive list of great bloggers, check out my public Bloglines account. At the bottom of the list, there is a link to Export Subscriptions. This will create a type of file that can be imported into other personal Blogline accounts.

Sample Classroom/Student Blogs

KinderKids Blog - blog by Ms. Knee's Kindergarten class
Ms. Cassidy's Classroom Blog - 1st grade student blogs
Mighty Writers - 3rd grade student blogs
Risley Roarer's Blog - Brian Crosby's 6th grade students
Excellence and Imagination - 7th and 8th grade student blogs
AP Calculus AB - High school AP Calculus student bloggers

Blogs to Connect with Education

http://www.girlswritenow.org/gwn/blog/1 Memoirs - Writing is Life --- Girls Write Now Blog
http://www.thestory.org/ The Story - Mexico City blog - May 5, 2009
http://www.asktom.org/ Tom Skilling - FermiLab - tornado - WGN


Comments

Comments are one of the features that make blogs such a powerful, interactive tool. They allow conversation, and through conversation, learning happens.
It is important to explicitly teach students how to comment. The session from the K-12 Online conference, entitled Second Nature, Extending Dialogue in the Blogosphere, by Lani Ritter Hall, is a helpful resource for helping to guide students in good commenting practices. Additionally, Clarence Fisher, from the Excellence and Imagination Blog for his middle school students, posted some comment guidelines that are very useful for anyone interacting with blogs.
Any blog can allow comments. Most blogging tools allow the user to control how comments are displayed on the blog. Comments can be unmoderated, moderated, or not allowed. Unmoderated comments allow anyone to post comments to a blogs without any intervention from the owner of that blog. Moderated comments, the more desirable in an educational setting, allow the blog owner to screen to comments posted, and allow only those that are appropriate to be posted. This allows the blog owner to have control over content. Finally, blog owners can elect to not allow comments, but this takes away the very important, interactive component of blogging.

Free Classroom Blog Tools

Class Blogmeister - hosted by David Warlick. This blogging tool allows teachers to set up student accounts, moderate posts, and moderate comments. In order to use this service, you need to email David Warlick to ask permission. A link to his email is on the Class Blogmeister home page. The sample classroom blog above, Mighty Writers, is hosted on Blogmeister.

21Classes.com offers free and paid blogging services. The free service offers a teacher account with 50 student accounts, each with 2 mb of storage space, which is enough to start a classroom blog, if media content is embedded from other web services (for instance, flickr for photos, Google Video or other video hosting site for video, SlideShare or Spresent for slideshows, etc.)

LearnerBlogs - hosted by James Farmer. This free tool is easy to sign up, but each account needs to be created individually. Comments can be moderated. The sample student blogs in Excellence and Imagination above were created on LearnerBlogs. You will notice that the teacher's (Clarence Fisher) blog is hosted on Edublogs, which is the free hosting site for educator blogs. If a teacher or student would want to be able to track new postings from classmates, they could use a tool like SuprGlu to "glue" all blogs to one site for easy tracking. Students can then easily access and comment on other student blog postings.

Blogger is another free, easy to use, blog hosting site. Blogger is used by many people all over the world. This could be considered to be less than desirable for most educational settings, especially because, by default, a link to random blogs is included in the header.

More Information about Blogging

Some great introductory videos about classroom blogging can be found on TILT TV (Teacher Improve Learning with Technology), by Danny Maas. You should watch Episode 6 - Educational Blogging Part 1, then Episode 9 - Educational Blogging Part 2. There will be a Part 3 in the future. (You can also subscribe to this video through the podcast directory of iTunes. Look in the sidebar of the TILT website.)