Weblogs as Tool for School Reform
Can weblogs serve as a tool that supports school reform in a school setting?
This is one question we are seriously thinking about using at Whittier School in Chicago.
Weblogs for personal Professional Development
Can weblogs be one tool of choice to help educator professionals develop an e-portfolio?
What is the eBN?
edBlogNet? (http://www.bayareawritingproject.org/eBn/) is a collaborative of teachers and organizations using weblogs in education. Its purpose is to help its members kindergarten through university, to access and use weblog technology for the teaching of writing and reading across the disciplines. The network provides a forum for educational professionals who use weblogs, an array of opportunities for teachers to continue their professional growth, and a framework for cooperation to deal with issues that affect the integration of weblog and other digital technologies into teaching and learning.
What is a Web log?
Web logs are easily created, easily updated Web pages or Web sites that can be accessed and edited from the Web browser of any Internet-connected computer.
Who uses Web logs?
Almost anyone can create and maintain a Web log with minimal technical experience. For that reason, in an educational setting, Web logs are used by students and teachers of all ages, k-16.
How have Web logs been used in the classroom?
Classroom uses of Web logs are many. They can be used as online student portfolios or filing cabinets where assignments and projects are stored. They can be class portals where teachers keep homework assignments, links, handouts, syllabi, etc. Teachers have also used Web logs as collaborative writing spaces where students read and give feedback to one another. Web logs have served as reader's guides for literature study, as newspapers, and as project sites where students create and contribute all content. See the list of sample Web logs linked below.
How do Web logs impact learning?
In a broad sense, the advent of easy-to-use web publishing tools like Web logs has effectively lowered the technology barrier, allowing teachers and students to take full advantage of the promise of the Internet. Features like integrated tools for discussion and feedback, automatic archiving of materials, and content syndication establish weblogs as ideal spaces for the presentation and discussion of knowledge and information. The open, flexible nature of weblogs encourages dialogues among many participants; many faculty weblog users, or "bloggers," have invited professionals and mentors from around the world to participate in their classes via their weblogs. In the hands of creative teachers, weblogs can enable students to connect their classroom experience to the "real world." This has had an extremely positive effect on the students, who quickly realize that they are writing for a community larger than the teacher or the class.
How do I create a Web log for myself or my classroom?
There are a number of Web log software applications available to Edubloggers depending on their level of technical expertise and support, the number of Web logs they wish to create, and their budget. See What other Web log software are eBN members using? for more information on Web log software applications.
Depending on which blog software you ultimately choose, there have recently been several books published on the basics of blogging. Many of these books cover the basic Web log packages.
The Weblog Handbook by Rebecca Blood (http://www.rebeccablood.net/handbook/)
We Blog: Publishing Online With Weblogs by Meg Hourihan, Matt Haughey and Paul Bausch (http://www.blogroots.com/book.blog)
Essential Blogging by Doctorow et al (http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/essblogging/)
The Essential Guide to Building Dynamic Weblogs: Blog On by Todd Stauffer (http://www.macblog.com/blogonbook/)
Most of the other blog packages offer support on their company site.
Do I need to know HTML?
While a knowledge of HTML code helps, you do not need to know HTML to use many Web log software packages. In fact, Web logs have been embraced for that very reason - publishing to the Web is as simple as filling in a form and pushing a button.
What are the technical and cost issues surrounding weblog implementation?
Hosting for your weblog is dependent on which software you choose and the level of technical support at your disposal.
A hosted service is the easiest and quickest way to start. Services like Blogger allow new users to set up an account (for free or a premium version for $35 per year) and begin posting literally in a matter of minutes. Blogger can host the blog, or the user can post to his/her own site.
A remotely installed blog is perhaps the most involved to setup. If you have access to a server that allows you to run CGI scripts and/or mysql, Movabletype is a full-featured blog solution (free for non-commercial, $150 for commercial). Some technical skills are required to configure the blog and database. Documentation, however, is excellent for Movabletype. Installation is also offered for a fee. MT can be installed for $20 dollars.
Desktop blog programs are installed on a user's computer, and posts are then uploaded to a host server. Radio Userland is a desktop program for $35.95, which includes hosting and upgrades for a year. Start up process for desktop blogs is almost as simple as hosted services like Blogger.
School weblog hosted services:
Manila blog software, hosted on Frontier, is a full-featured, out-of-the-box content management solution. Although Manila hosting sites exist (http://www.weblogger.com), many schools have chosen to buy Manila/Frontier? to run on an on-site server. The Manila/Frontier? bundles can be purchased from UserLand for $299 a year (academic pricing). Manila is used by many members of eBN.
What other Web log software are eBN members using?
Blogger, Movabletype, and Radio Userland are only a sampling of available blog programs. Webcrimson (http://webcrimson.com/), groksoup (http://www.groksoup.com/), greymatter (http://www.noahgrey.com/greysoft/), Drupal (http://www.drupal.org/), and Tinderbox are also available. For a complete listing of blog resources, visit Blogroots (http://www.blogroots.com/resources.blog).
Before you decide on a particular blog tool, it's also helpful to keep in mind that not all blog tools are created equal. In the best case scenario, you should have an idea of what you'd like to do with your blog, and choose a blog tool based on its feature set. For example, if you'd simply like to have students post their work to the Web, all of these are viable solutions. However, if you'd like to have your students then discuss their work on the blog, tools like Blogger and Radio, that don't come with an integrated discussion tool, won't meet your needs. For a comparison of some blog tools and their feature sets, check out http://www.urldir.com/bt/.
These may be ways to see the intended use of a blog : it may be integrated within the above paragraph. ( For educators : Blogs for Personal Use , Professional Use - which may be a knowledge blog or e portfolio - Multi-author blogs ) (For students ' Personal Blogs - Klogs and multi author blogs) Just like good writing.. we may see that a piece of writing may have mutliple genres in it. blogs easely can be a swiss - army tool.
(We need someone to do more of an analysis here.) - suggestion: I have two articles on blogging at: http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/blogging_part_1.htm and http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/blogging_part_2.htm . If it has value, feel free to copy relevant sections...in the sections below, I've added excerpts.
What is COPPA?
COPPA stands for the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. It is a law that was designed to ensure the online privacy and safety of children under the age of 13.
The Primary Concern of COPPA
COPPA's primary concern is with keeping parents in control over what personal information is collected from their child online. Parents have the right to review any information given and have the right to have that information deleted. COPPA affects commercial Web sites targeted to children. Web sites may not ask a child to supply personal identifying information including an e-mail address. Web site Operators must obtain parental permission and that permission must be verifiable. These sites are also required to post their privacy policies including statements about information collection and disclosure.
How does this affect an Educator working with Children Online?
COPPA regulation does not affect children's ability to access information, rather it limits a Web Operator's ability to access information from children. Most schools' acceptable use policy requires that parents sign permission for internet use. However, this does not grant permission for children to supply personal information to Web sites. Under the law of COPPA, if students are to provide personal information to a web site, parental consent MUST be specifically granted. Permission to use the internet is NOT enough.
More Information Regarding COPPA
[Center For Media Education]
[Children's Online Privacy Protection Act]
What about security and privacy issues? (this is an issue that perhaps needs to be expanded to include adherence to corporate policies (i.e. not sharing private info, venting personal issues with the school, etc.)
--- Inquiry Questions Weblogs as Tool for School Reform Can weblogs serve as a tool that supports school reform in a school setting? This is one question we are seriously thinking about using at Whittier School in Chicago.
Weblogs for personal Professional Development Can weblogs be one tool of choice to help educator professionals develop an e-portfolio?