How to Get Started
December 2007

How to Get Started

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Shuchi Grover

Educational Technologist
shuchi_grover@post.harvard.edu

My first two articles in this 3-part series on Blogging in Education have hopefully set the stage for teachers to try out this new (web 2.0) technology tool to begin online publishing, conversations and collaboration with their students and/or with other teachers.

Itching to start blogging? Off we go…
The first step in getting started with blogging is for you, the teacher, to familiarise yourself with the idea, and dynamics, of blogging. The best way to do this would be to start a personal blog that you may use to pen (or rather, type) personal thoughts and opinions, or to reflect on your teaching through publishing your thoughts and ideas about your profession. You could, at the same time, also become a part of an existing community blogging forum, to get a sense for commenting on others’ ideas, while also receiving, and responding to, comments on your own ideas and opinions. It is important for a teacher to get a good sense for both experiences – ‘personal’ as well as ‘group’ blogging. For the latter, you may consider joining educatorslog.in (http://educatorslog.in) described in the 1st article of this series. It takes only a few minutes to select a user name, password and email address for verification; and once you’ve confirmed your existence through responding to the verification email, you are ready to become a “blogging” member of the educatorslog.in community forum, and start commenting on existing posts from other members, as well as posting your own ideas and opinions on issues of education in India, or sharing resources that other teachers may find useful and relevant to teaching in India.

To create your own personal blog, you could use of the many free, easy-to-use blogging tools widely available on the Internet. Among the most popular are blogger.com (from Google), wordpress.com, edublogs.com and livejournal.com. ‘Signing up’ is usually as simple as selecting a blog title and a blog name (that will appear in the web address of the blog), and providing an email address for verification. The rest of the settings may be set later once you’ve created your blog. These include personalisation details such as the appearance and color scheme of the blog, a profile/description of the author of the blog, and links to your other favorite websites that you’d like to share on your blog site, among many other things. The process of actually signing up for, and creating a blank blog (as well as publishing your first “Hello World” post) should take you no more than 5 minutes! That’s it! No hassles related to downloading and installing software of any kind, or paying for site-hosting for your blog. It cannot get easier than this!

Anyone can post comments on just about any blog. However, in order to start a group blog for your class or the teacher community in your school to participate in as co-contributors, you could consider creating a blog on blogger, edublogs or wordpress (as described above for your personal blog), and then “inviting” members (your students or your teacher colleagues). Anyone who already has a user name with that blogging service (e.g. blogger) can accept the invitation, and then start publishing posts (in addition to just comments) on the group blog.

Free blogging tools such as these, however, do not allow completely private blogging spaces, and blogs created on these are usually visible to anyone on the world wide web. For a group blog that is completely private – accessible and viewable only to the members who have been invited or added, teachers may want to consider Classblogmeister – a blogging platform created by David Warlick, an active educator blogger based in the U.S., under the aegis of The Landmark Project. Classblogmeister (http://classblogmeister.com) was designed specifically for teachers to use with their classes, and as such, provides a “controlled environment” that has tools that allow teachers to comment privately on student work, and also moderate all comments made on the group blog.

So let’s usher in the era of “education 2.0” in our classrooms in India … and get started with blogging! Here’s to blogging and learning!

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