Friday, May 1, 2009

Blogging for learning

You might already be familiar with weblog, or blog (Otherwise, you are NOW reading one.). Blogs, in my observation of faculty members whom I know, are often used to do one or some of the following:

  1. Provide an easy-to-go-to website which contains links to other websites
  2. Announce short messages
  3. Re-publish articles from other websites.

While these are certainly useful support functions to traditional classroom teaching, blogs can be better used as an interactive mode of communication—not just student and teacher, but also student-student and student-other readers.

Blogging, as a communication channel, allows one to communicate with multiple people considering geographically dispersed locations and asynchronous (different times of sending/receiving messages) setup—again, not just between the blogger and the audience, but also between the audience themselves.

Also, blogging allows the blogger to communicate to multiple readers on the Net without the need to ask the audience their email addresses (which is what you would have to do if you were to set up an electronic group).

Considering this potential, blogging should be done with proper and some basic considerations.

Blogging Considerations
Topic – I would suggest that you choose a topic which is specific. When I say specific, I mean not like “marketing” as related to “business,” but rather like “informing and communicating in a public educational institution.” The reason for this is that your blog, as a niche in the Internet world market (with readership as buying), must have a clear offering—how it will benefit your readers. Also, having this specific of a topic allows you to draw from multiple fields of study (that is, cross- and trans-disciplinal) on what to post, which you will integrate. This will allow your post to be practical, not just opinions or theoretical discussion which readers can find elsewhere.

Interactive – Allow in the home page and in every post an opportunity to discuss and react—whether you like the reaction or not. Every reaction is a new content that increases the presence of your site. Also, usually, reactions automatically subscribes the reactor to your blog. That increases your blog readership. Soliciting feedback also gives you other ideas that you might blog about. This makes your blog driven by your readers' interests, which drives their interest and will make them read your blog more often.

Contact the Author – Make sure there are ways of communicating you besides the comment. Some readers might want to contact you for a private message. You do not want to publish your email address, however, as this invites spam. Just consider a “Contact me” page where readers can include their comment/question and their contact email so that you can contact them. Of course, make sure to contact them within a reasonable amount of time, which should be clearly identified in the blog.

Design – Most blogging sites have default designs and layouts. Consider how you can customize it to what is complementary to your topic but is still pleasing to the eyes of your reader. You might also want to consider how it might display in mobile devices as mobile internet is becoming more common.

There are other things that you may consider, but these are basic considerations in using blogging as a learning tool. Like any learning tool, however, consider your learner on how to deliver better the content.

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