What is It?

A blog is a type of website or “web log” that can be updated easily by an individual or group of individuals. Blog entries or posts, as they are known, are generally displayed in reverse-chronological order and may contain text, video, images, and/or links. As a multi-purpose platform for publishing content on the web, blogs are extremely versatile and can be configured to facilitate interaction, collaboration, and community building around content.

Blogs can be authored by a single individual or by a group of individuals and their focus may range from an online personal journal to an editorial on current events or community issues. Blog authors may invite comments and interaction on their posts or may reference and link to other sites on the web, creating an informal network of information and knowledge. Additionally, blog posts can be labeled or tagged to allow readers to search for content on specific topics. And, visitors to a blog can often subscribe to an RSS feed and be notified when new content is added. Although most blogs are set up to provide public access to anyone on the web, it’s possible to limit access to a single individual or group of individuals such as a class.

How Can I Use It in Teaching?

In higher education, blogs are being used extensively to support teaching and learning. They are especially useful as a tool for improving student writing and reflection. Blogs can also be used to support collaborative activities, such as student research projects, team debates, or any other assignment in which students are tasked with creating content. Blogging software is generally easy to use, and most faculty and students can be up and running in a few minutes.

Specific examples of how blogs are used in teaching include:

  • Assignments in which students are asked to create content and share it.
  • Students reflective essays or journals on course content, individual learning or experience.
  • Collaborative (team) writing assignment or team projects.
  • Projects designed to capture and disseminate student information or knowledge on a topic.
  • Projects focused on interaction and collaboration among class members or with experts in a field.

Resources for Learning More

  • 7 Things You Should Know about Blogs – Educause Learning Initiative
  • Blogs for Learning – an online resource about instructional blogging with information and resources about the technical and pedagogical aspects of blogging in the classroom.
  • The Impact of Using Blogs on College Students’ Reading Comprehension and Learning Motivation – research study focused on investigating whether students’ reading levels would improve if they had the opportunity to use digital texts with a blogging tool. Working with 149 college students and 2 instructors to integrate blogs into developmental reading courses, researchers collected and analyzed both quantitative data and qualitative data. Results of their study indicate that using blogs correlated positively with higher retention rates.

Blogging Tools

  • Spark WordPress Tufts tool– Tufts hosted tool for blog and web site creation.
  • Blogger – Blogger is free easy-to-use blogging software created by Google.
  • Tumblr – A feature-rich system
  • Posterious – Super simple, and with lots of functionality
  • – Another powerful product from the “io” people
  • Edmodo – Good for making password protected groups of blogs
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