Blogs

Blogs (short for 'weblogs') are often used by individuals as a kind of public diary or for commentary on current events. Many are politically-oriented for this reason. Often written with short articles of a single paragraph or half a page, blogs are usually updated frequently, sometimes even several times per day. Viewers of blogs can surf in the usual fashion to that webpage, but many receive the blog update in a 'subscription' format.

Known as RSS (short for 'real simple syndication'), the subscription service is free and automated from all blog-hosting websites. Users simply click the RSS button and request that future blog entries be delivered to them via RSS. Most users do not ask RSS to be delivered as an email to them; instead, they frequently check a webpage that lists all at once multiple RSS 'feeds' from different sites, and thus provides an at-a-glance view of many recent posts.

RSS reader sample

Instructors may wish to use blogs to provide an additional way to communicate with students who are used to visiting an RSS Reader. Strategies for using a blog for instructional purpose include:

  • providing Internet links to current events of relevance to course content
  • posing timely questions about the reading material in the course
  • offering provocative or controversial questions for discussion (students can comment with a single click on each blog post, and engage each other in dialogue in this fashion)

Blogs can be created for free at multiple sites, including http://www.blogger.com (also known as BlogSpot), WordPress, and http://www.typepad.com.

 

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Sean Robb
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