Blogs (a short form of the original term weblogs) are classic web 2.0 tools which allow users to share their thoughts, potentially globally, and receive feedback, again potentially from around the globe. Many major blogging platforms have app versions for mobile devices, so that blogs are also increasingly aligned with mobile learning.
Blogs are effectively online journals where you can post updates – which may be text-based but nowadays are often multimodal – as often as you wish. A blog can thus function as a reflective diary but it can also be the centrepiece of a conversation, since readers can leave comments for the blog’s author and each other, forging connections and community around topics of mutual interest. Advantages for students include the fact that they are crafting their communications for a wider audience – whether the entire internet on a public blog, or a more restricted group of class peers on a private class blog – and can receive feedback, thus co-constructing knowledge with others as they develop their online personas. Blogs are also commonly ‘in conversation’ with one another, as bloggers link to and comment on each other’s ideas.
For a light-hearted introduction to the principles underpinning blogs, see the Common Craft video Blogs in Plain English. For further information on the use of blogs in education, see the following guides, many of them extracted from The Edublogger:
- Why Teachers and Students Should Blog (Kathleen Morris, 2018)
- 10 Ways to Introduce Your Students to Blogging (Kathleen Morris/The Edublogger, 2019)
- 10 Elements of a Quality Blog Post (Kathleen Morris/The Edublogger, 2020)
- 10 Classroom Blogging Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them) (Kathleen Morris/The Edublogger, 2021)
- 7 Benefits to Blogging in the Classroom (Teach Starter, 2022)
- Using Blogs in the Classroom (University of Michigan, n.d.)
Basic blogs can be quickly and easily set up at no cost, though many blogging services now work on a freemium model where basic functionality is available for free, but users pay for more advanced functionality. Well-known blog hosting services include Blogger, Edublogs, LiveJournal, WordPress.com (a freemium service which hosts your blog) and WordPress.org (where the WordPress software is available for free but you need to host your own blog). Typepad is a paid blogging service, while Fanschool (formerly Kidblog) is now also a paid service. A popular variation on the basic blogging idea is the multimedia-oriented Tumblr. There are a number of blogging and diary apps available in Google Play, Apple’s iTunes, or other app stores; for a comprehensive list, see Common Sense Media’s Journal Apps, Online Diaries, and Digital Scrapbooks.
While older student blogging projects can be easily found on the web, newer projects with school-level learners are not so readily found because many blogs have now been set up as password-protected sites and/or integrated into LMSs or other institutional platforms which are not publicly accessible. This has been done in order to protect students’ identities and safeguard them from inappropriate interactions and comments, though in fact it is also possible to hide students’ identities on public blogs by removing identifying information, and to wholly or partially disable public commenting options. If you’re looking for current examples of publicly available student blogs, check out the Edublogger’s List of Class Blogs from Around the World.
Blogs are increasingly being used by educators as part of collaborative online international learning (COIL) or virtual exchange (VE) initiatives to help their students build intercultural skills as they interact with peers from different parts of the world, whether in a lingua franca, or in a bilingual mode where students are learning each other’s languages. The Quadblogging service, established a number of years ago in the UK, helps teachers to find appropriate blogging partner schools around the world; for an introduction to the underpinning principles, see Linda Yollis’s video What is QuadBlogging?.
If you’re looking for examples of blogs for educators, check out the Top 100 Education Blogs for Educators and Teachers (Feedspot) or Teach 100. For other relevant examples, take a look at Mark Pegrum’s E-language blog, or the excerpts on the Blogs to follow page. You might also like to check out Ronnie Burt, Sue Waters, Karen Walsh and Kathleen Morris’s guide for educators, 50 Topics to Inspire Educators to Blog.
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