Monday, September 24, 2007

Blog Purposes and Navigation

Navigating a blog (i.e., web log) is as simple as navigating the World Wide Web. Blogs offer networks of links, allowing movement from one webpage to another. A blog is a website in which all the entered data can appear in one long page, or be presented on separate pages. The blog administrator chooses the look, navigation methods, and privileges for the blog, and those visiting the blog are limited within the administrator's design.

A blogger (a person who blogs or a person who designs a blog) begins by choosing the purpose of the blog. Most blogs act as journals or discussion groups. As such, the blog design allows posting of main topics and sometimes commenting on those topics. The administrator may choose to allow anyone to post and comment to the blog, or may restrict posting and commenting. For example, in a personal journal, a blogger may choose to only post main ideas him/herself, but may allow others to comment on those posts (see Vegas Education Blog, Keeler Thoughts, or Keeler Research Blog). Or, a blogger may allow any authorized user to post or comment in a blog. Some bloggers allow anyone to post or comment as long as they are on an approved "author" (see Standards Revision History Blog) or "reader" (see Nevada Standards Revision Blog) list. To enable this level of restriction, the blog administrator invites blog "authors" or "readers" to join the blog. Invitations arrive as email messages to which the receiving individual must respond by accepting the invitation.

Other blogs are not meant to provide a stream-of-consciousness or linear progression of thoughts. Instead, they are created to appear as full non-linear websites for specific purposes. For example, ePortfolio Example provides a sample blog-based ePortfolio for pre-service teachers to emulate as they develop their own portfolios. Other examples include Prominent Men and Women of the Day, Native Americans of the Northwest, and Frog WebQuest.

Teachers are beginning to use blogging for many uses including book blogging (see Year of the Hangman and Guerrilla Season), class websites (see Room 313), student-generated lecture notes (see Mr. Langhorst's Class Scribe), and teacher-generated lecture notes accompanied by student collaborative work groups (see AP Calc AB).

Bloggers are even beginning to mix and match blogs, linking a variety of blogs together where different blogs have different purposes, audiences, and privileges. For example, the Nevada Standards Revision Blog links several blogs with varying levels of permission. The main blog, the Nevada Standards Revision Blog, allows users to only review the content. Linked to this blog is a second blog, General Discussion Blog, where all participants of the main blog can communicate through both posting and commenting options. The main blog also links to several other specialized blogs, like the Civics Subcommittee Blog and the Geography Subcommittee Blog, where a subset of the Nevada Standards Revision Blog participants may access and discuss topics of special interest. Only invited guests may access, post, and comment in these blogs and users may have different access depending on their special interest groups. In addition to links to pages within a single blog and links to other blogs, it is possible for blog administrators to add links to other web-based resources (e.g., Google Docs, Delicious, or wikis such as the Wikipedia) where further collaboration may occur. Web 2.0 is the generic term given to web-based resources that allow real-time collaboration between a multitude of users.

For an example of navigating password-protected blogs with varying posting and commenting permissions, view the video below.

For methods of developing blogs, view the videos linked below.
Feel free to contact Dr. Christy Keeler for additional information and discussion on use of blogs in educational settings.

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