Thursday, 18 January 2007

Creating a Google account

In order to use Blogger you need a Google account. To open this, go to:

Book on blogging

Blood, R (2002) The Weblog Handbook: Practical Advice on Creating and Maintaining Your Blog

Adding sidebar links

If you want to add a link from the blog (it will appear in the sidebar), rather than a posting, then you need to go to 'template'. At the bottom of the page, click on 'add page element' and then select 'add link'. Simply type in the URL into the required box, give it a name and then save to the blog. 'Add page element' can also be used to upload a picture, and various other options, to the sidebar. In the 'template' area you can also drag and move page elements around...useful if you want to alter your blog's appearance.

Thursday, 11 January 2007

Who reads and contributes to the blog?

You need to decide who you want to read and contribute to the blog. This can be established by altering the settings on your blog.

To do this in Blogger, go to the 'settings' tab on your blog management page.

The link below tells you how you can have your blog listed on the web and how you can restrict and moderate comments:

Is a blog open to anyone?

I recommend going through each of the tabs e.g. basics, comments, e-mail, permissions etc and selecting the settings you prefer as soon as you establish a new blog.

If you want to restrict who can read and write on the blog, you need to go to the 'permissions' section. From here you can invite others to join the blog community.

How to include a picture or link in your post

To learn more about including pictures in your posts click here.

To include a link, it's pretty much the same procedure as including a picture. I recommend saving your text as a draft before you do this. Highlight the words you want to add the link to then click on I find it can be a bit temperamental and you may need to 'allow pop-ups' but eventually you get a box which allows you to insert the URL. Click on OK and it should have made the link!

How to get started with Blogger

If you wish to use Blogger, it is very easy to get started and takes about 15 minutes to set up and start posting.

First of all you have to go to and create a new account. As a new blogger, this is done via Google. Click on ‘New Blogger’. If you do not already have a Google account, you will need to create this first.

Once you have opened an account it is possible to open one or more blogs from the 'dashboard' page and then you can start posting. I recommend deciding on which 'settings' you want before posting to a new blog. See my later posting:

Who reads and contributes to a blog?

It’s perhaps a good idea to ‘Take a quick tour’ first.

'Setting up your Blogger account' takes you through the next steps in setting up your blog after your account has been established.

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Using blogs in the classroom

There are lots of ways a blog can be used in ELT. Here are some

- to share tips on teaching e.g. Blog EFL
- to disseminate information about classes/courses
- to provide reading practice
- to allow students to write journals that can be read by their teacher only or by others
- to guide students to resources
- to develop 'community' discussions and relationships within classes
- to encourage participation within the classroom
- to stimulate out of class discussions
- to encourage a process-writing approach
- to encourage colloborative working e.g. via project work
- to develop an on-line portfolio of work
- to develop distance learning approaches
- to record class events. is a blog site specifically for photographs.
- to forge links with students overseas

BUT some issues to be aware of:

- unwanted comments: do you need to restrict who can comment on the blog? do you need to be a moderator (this is possible with some blog providers)
- correction : not that easy to do but it might be possible if the teacher is a co-blogger. Peer correction may also be possible in class or correction could be undertaken via 'Comments'.
- privacy : you may need to restrict who can view the blog (this is possible with some blog providers)

Blog hosting providers

There are a number of different free blog hosting providers. Some examples are:

They usually have an on-line tutorial.

What are the elements of a blog?

The features of a blog include:

Date header: The date the post is written. Posts are generally presented in reverse chronological order (most recent first).

Author nickname: The name or nickname of the person who wrote the post. For blogs written by one person, the author is often left off (because the author identification can be found in an About page). For collaborative blogs, the author helps to differentiate contributors. The nickname can also be a link to a page of all the author’s posts.

Title: Each post is given a title. This is usually a short ‘headline’ style title.

Post: A word, sentence, paragraph or essay, with links and names and current news.
Key words and names are often highlighted in boldface, which makes the post 'scannable'

Link: This links to another blog or web-page where more inforamtion can be found. Not necessarily by the same author.

Category: Individual postings are often labelled as part of a category.

Time stamp and/or permalink: The time the post is uploaded to the blog. The time stamp often is a link to a permanent page just for this post. This allows other bloggers to link to a post.

Comments: A software feature that allows readers to leave their own comments and reactions to the author’s post.

TrackBack: A way for one blog post to link to the post of another blog. In other words, one blogger can write about the content of another person's weblog, and the two posts are linked in a web.

Why write a blog?

Some reasons for writing a blog are:
- to express yourself
- to stay in touch with friends and family
- to work with others to produce writing
- to tell stories
- to keep a diary of daily life events and thoughts
- to reflect on work you have done and what you have learnt from it
- to review books, films, CDs, restaurants, language courses etc
- to share links, pictures, recipes, travel tips and love poems
- to contribute to a debate
- to improve your language skills

Basically, you can create and write a blog for any reason you want!

Why read a blog?

Some reasons are that:

- a blog can allow you access to information that might otherwise not get published e.g. A young Iraqi known as 'River Bend' wrote about her experiences in Baghdad during the Iraq war (her writing has now been published as a book in the UK):

- a blog can connect you to other people interested in the same things as you. There are many focused and random blogs out there. Blog communities are a common feature (you can make links with other bloggers)

- blogs are available in many languages: is used by Japanese students and Blogger has around 50 different language options.

- they provide up to date and historical views both from bloggers and commentators.

- they allow for correction by the blogger and commentators.

BUT beware of the credibility web do not know who has written it and where the information is sourced from.

What is a blog?

The word 'blog' is short for 'web log'. It's basically a web site that is like a log or a journal.

A blog is usually owned by one person, an author, known as a 'blogger' but it can be authored by a group of co-bloggers, in different locations.

Bloggers write entries on a regular basis and then publish these onto their blog where others in the wider community of blogging can see them and comment on the entries. It is possible to restrict who reads and comments on the blog.

Blogs are usually hosted on the web and in the same way as e-mailing via hotmail you can then access them from any web-accessible computer. You can even post to some blogs from your mobile phone e.g. now has this capability.

Photographs, audio clips, video clips and links can also be published onto the blog. To see an example of a blog containing these features, go to:

Most recent posts usually appear at the top of the blog so the beginning is actually at the end!