== What _is_ blogging? ==
‘Blog’ is short for ‘weblog’. Blogging is a simple way of publishing information to the web. Blogs started as online diaries, and this is reflected in the way that posts are published chronologically, with the most recent post at the top of the page, and earlier posts towards the bottom.
Blogs make it easy to separate the process of content-creation from stylistic concerns. Using pre-defined templates or using one which you design yourself, the content you then create is automatically formatted. In addition, features such as ‘trackbacks’, [[RSS Feeds]] and ‘pings’ allow other people to know when you’ve updated your blog and when someone has linked to yours.
For a more in-depth description of the advantages of using blogs and the technology behind them, see the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog Wikipedia entry on blogs].
== How do I ”blog”? ==
Blogs are provided free of charge by many different companies. Some of the most popular include:
These services provide easy to use, easy to customize blogging services for no charge.
Those people who feel a bit more confident about ICT could investigate hosting their blog on their own server, perhaps using wordpress software, or [[user:Doug Belshaw]]s [http://edupress.mrbelshaw.co.uk edupress] software.
== How do I use a blog for teaching and learning? ==
Firstly find a blogging service that is not blocked by your schools ISP. There’s nothing worse than setting something up and proudly showing your year 9s the "this page is blocked" screen that your LEA liberally splashes around. Some people have raised concerns that the ‘Next Blog’ button added by default to blogs created using Google’s [http://www.blogger.com Blogger] service may lead to inappropriate content. However, in ”practice” [http://www.blogger.com Blogger] provides an excellent service which is simple to use and free.
===As a virtual teacher’s desk===
Teachers and pupils often have a lot to communicate to each other, and to remember. This is true for all ages of students, page references and success criteria for homework, links to interesting sites, reminders to hand in consent forms for trips, or to bring in evidence from home are often forgotten by teacher and student alike.
A blog could become a teacher’s record of what has happened in a course so that "I forgot the homework title, page reference etc" could become a thing of the past if a blog is referred to constantly. Such blogs can also act as a useful revision aid or a record of "what we’ve done" for students who have missed lessons.
===As a record of reflection or CPD===
Reflective practitioners need somewhere to reflect. A classblog could be a space for a teacher to reflect on that class, or a teacher could run a blog dedicated to their professional reflection and development. You can find several examples of such blogs, for instance, Doug’s [http://teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk Teaching] site.
===As a virtual display board===
Given the chronological nature of blogs they make ideal platforms to showcase the most recent work done by a class/in a department/by pupils in a particular school. Images and even videos can be added to blogs to showcase pupils’ work. Examples of a display blog can be found [http://lmhartley.edublogs.org/ here] and [http://www.podesta.org.uk/coldwar/ here].
This second blog is an example where work done online and offline by students is displayed together. In addition the "post of the week" is a good way of incentivising pupils, especially when a small prize is offered.
===As a student workspace===
The government has proposed in the coming years for each pupil have access to their own ‘VLE’ (Virtual Learning Environment). They would be able to login to this and work upon projects set by their teachers. This is already possible with systems such as [http://www.elgg.net Elgg] which has the added advantage of semi-automatically creating virtual ‘communities’. Several individuals and schools (including [http://elgg.net/mberry/weblog/ Miles Berry] have had success with combining [http://www.elgg.net Elgg] with [http://www.moodle.org Moodle].
A blog, provided it is set up and maintained properly and guidance given to pupils, can be an extremely motivating and effective tool for teaching and learning. Using one of the services above such as [http://learnerblogs.org/ learnerblogs.org], teachers can allow their pupils to showcase their work to the world. Using the [[RSS Feed]] from each blog, teachers can then put all the work together using a site such as [http://www.suprglu.com/ SuprGlu].