Question About Getting Teachers To Blog

I’m teaching a 1 unit class right now about integrating field trips, technology and writing. This week one of my topics is blogging. We’ve already covered wikis (and registered for one), Flickr (and registered for an account) and more. I’ll have about 2 hours to cover blogging. For those of you that have presented on blogging, or been to a presentation about blogging, I have a question for you. Do you think I should make time to have attendees sign-up for a blog? What has been your experience – is doing that really beneficial? – is that an effective motivator to get teachers blogging? Should my attitude be that if even one person begins to blog it is worth the time? My tendency is to have them get a blog set-up, but I’ve had feedback that that is a waste of time – “If they get it they’ll sign-up on their own time.” What do you think?

OK, and if you think we should – which free blog should I have them try? I use WordPress, but I have it on a server – not a WordPress hosted site – I don’t have experience with free hosting. So which one is the best choice? Thanks for any help.

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12 Responses to Question About Getting Teachers To Blog

  1. Donna says:

    Just an idea… how about gathering a list of ed related blogs and then setting aside some of the time so that the participants can choose to either A) read through some of those blogs or B) set up their own. That gives some exploration time to those who aren’t ready for their own and some guidance for those that are.

  2. Cindy Barnsley says:

    HI,
    I think it is useful to help people set up their own blog as it demystifies the process. It does not matter how many times you say “it’s really simple”, showing how easy it can help people to get over that initial fear of doing something new. I think edublogs is a great place to start if you’re looking for free hosting
    Cindy

  3. Matthew says:

    I’ve tried a few and like edublogs.org. It is also a WordPress blog that has a free version for teachers and another for students. It is hard to know which way to go on the assigned blog or not issue. It is very difficult to understand what a blog is unless you get a chance to produce content instead of just consuming content.

    On the other hand, unless you are committed to writing or blogging, the assignment is an activity to complete and not necessarily something from which to learn.

    In a recent class I assigned creating a blog. One teacher already knew about them and had a personal blog, one jumped in and owned her content and keeps blogging. The other 12 didn’t see much in it for themselves or their classrooms.

    Some people complain whenever they do something new, even when it is in their best interest. You can never tell when your teachers may find themselves in a position where having a blog, or understanding them on a deeper level, comes in very handy. I guess I’m in favor of teachers creating their own blogs.

  4. Kern Kelley says:

    Having been in similar situations, I’d opt to have the teachers create a blog. Get the minutia of setting up a blog (choosing an available user name, responding to the account email, etc.) out of the way, then it’s just a matter of the teachers adding what they want to it, the hard part is over.
    I use, and recommend to my staff, Blogger. A major reason is because once they have a Blogger account, they have access to a whole world of Web 2.0 stuff. Google docs, forums, page maker, etc. The biggest drawback is the Navibar at the top, but with a little light coding (basically copy and paste) you can make it disappear. To see one in action with video, pics, etc. check out http://www.itsvms.com

  5. Jody Hayes says:

    I’d go for learning by doing. My colleague and I ran a workshop on blogging and had 90 minutes which was pushing it really. If you are teaching teachers of children younger than about 12 years to blog I would strongly recomment David Warlicks classblogmeister. Really easy, safe as articles and comments go through teacher approval and FREE. You can find the home page and the button to ‘register’ at http://www.classblogmeister.com
    You need to register your school/workshop to get a code. Then on the day have the teachers set up their own blogs. You could data show the ‘documentation’ help menu (when you are logged on to your blog page) and walk them through it. My class blog is a classblogmeister one and I am able to insert flickr photos, links on my page etc as easy as anything – and the children get their own page off mine. OK … enough rambling. Just get them blogging.

  6. Jeff Utecht says:

    Here’s a link to a blog being used on a week long field trip that took place just last week.

    http://blogs.saschinaonline.org/chinalive8

    The students blogged every night via a Internet Cafe. The teachers took pictures and uploaded them to our school flickr account which was tied into the blog. Also, another teacher did a daily podcast with the students and posted that as well.

    All Free
    All in real time
    All very cool

    Parents loved it!

    As for having teachers set up their own blogs. I’ve done it both ways and have found that the time it takes to set up a blog for every participant is time that can be better utilized somewhere else. It hardly ever goes as planned, and you usually end up doing a lot of 1:1 time with people just getting the blogs set up.

    What I have started to do is just create a blog and use it as place to demonstrate. I give everyone the same username and password, and if it’s wordpress more than one person can be logged in at a time under the same account. I then walk them through the steps and have them post something to show them how easy it is. From there I do follow up sessions on setting up a blog.

    I think most teachers need to ‘get it’ before they’re willing to put in the time to try it on their own. So I’d use the first part of my lesson on helping them to get it with examples of what other teachers are doing.

    Just my 2cents ;)

  7. Bud Hunt says:

    I’ve actually found that helping folks to set up a blog, without follow up time after the initial day of setup, results in an awful lot of one-post blogs. So while I’m all for having you set up blogs with folks, I have seen that, time and time again, it just doesn’t necessarily result in a class full of happy bloggers. I like the previous comment of offering two channels of options — reading other blogs or setting one up.
    I’d also ask your audience, if it’s possible to do so, and see what they’d like to do.

  8. Carlene says:

    Hi
    I love blogspot but it is blocked in a lot of schools. They say that blogmeister and edublogs are often NOT blocked. I would definitely set up a blog. They are up and running then. I like the idea of only one with everyone posting to it. Also, like the idea of asking audience.

  9. Pingback: Learning Is Messy - Blog » Blog Archive » Thanks For Your Input!

  10. Ashlyn says:

    Part of me says, demystify the whole process and have them go through the process of signing up. Get them going!
    BUT….Many of my teachers have only heard about blogs and have only a very foggy idea about how they are useful and what they entail. Posting your opinion “out there” on the web can be a little intimidating. Letting students go do it is even more intimidating. I think it might be a better approach to show them an aggreagtor and provide some instruction on how to find blogs in an area they are interested. Give them some examples of blogs to follow that might provide them subject area and edtech information and some examples of student blogs at various levels. They can follow the discussion and yes, “lurk” for a while before jumping in.
    We want students writing, participating and sharing. In order to make these experience valuable to the students we need to give those teachers who are not technophiles and early adopters, time and space to learn and experience before doing what they do as professionals (incorporate useful ways to learn into their curriculum).

  11. Patrick says:

    I have seen what Bud is talking about in regard to other technologies, and setting up blogs for a group of teachers who have no knowledge of educational blogging-either as professional practice and reflection or as a tool to use to foster student writing and reflection- would be a tough sell.

    In two weeks, I am running a class called Writing and your MySpace Students. In designing the class, my first thought was to get the teachers to create class blogs and hook their students in. After some reflection and thought, I think I will use at least two of the six hours to show them various examples of blogs. Class blogs, teacher blogs, administrator blogs, political blogs, sports blogs, etc. Then discuss the merits of a blog: what is the big deal? Where is the potential for these in your school/classroom? And I would also like to show them some examples of teachers who have changed the way they organize their classes based on the blogging premise.

  12. You should recommend edublogs but then I’m biased! I tend to agree with Bud re: setting up blogs in that time. I did it in a workshop last year and it panned exactly as Bud described it. Maybe getting them to set up Google Reader or Bloglines and give them some reading and skimming time might give them a take-away resource they can call their own.

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