Getting your Blog Ready to Go Live
My sister wanted to know what blogs did and why they are being used for instruction. In her case, she asked about setting up a blog for her French class. She identified a project it might support, in which her students would correspond with students in France in both French and English.
I asked her what she might want to use the blog for? Immediately, she came up with preparing announcements. I suggested that she use the blog with the other instructor, and demonstrate and model her expectations for her students. She immediately said she would write almost all in French.
So, a key recommendation I have for teachers interested in using blogs with students, is to shift from just a managing role, to being a partner in the process, and blog actively alongside the students. Blog away to achieve a purpose, say, in my sister’s case, to polish up on written French. Use the blog with a commitment to maintain it after the semester is finished.
One can use blogs to post links to different categories of resources within a blogroll. One can organize and categorize blog posts into different categories. One can add pages to the top menu to aid navigation, to break up the blog into different sections. You can get ready for instruction and upload MP3 podcasts, documents, images, photos, and videos to the media library.
Preparing Pages: (here are some suggestions about getting your blog ready for instruction)
Bio or CV – often educators place a special page in their blog to introduce their professional background, education, publications or presentations, qualifications, skills, and a short intro of their professional interests.
Course Pages – I prefer to set this up using a password to protect students from public scrutiny. I do this if I want to have the students use their names, and not use avatars. I would set up avatars for students if they are participating in the wide, wide open in the public sections of the blog.
A useful sub-page for the students would be a resource page with a list of useful links. Another sub-page should be created that introduces you to the students. It is recommended to try and use either a podcast or video clip, and embed that into the page. Or you can put that into a welcome post.
Next, there is the question of where to begin..what to start blogging about.