Blogging is one of the oldest of the ‘emerging technologies’ that have made the internet truly interactive and collaborative. It is a very simple way to put content on the web and allow others to comment on a topic of interest thus facilitating local, national, and global conversations.
I was eager to share many classroom activities and ways that blogging can be incorporated into the classroom until I listened to a enlightening podcast (notes) by Will Richardson, one of most well known and respected educational bloggers. He shares that blogging has been transformative for him because a professional development community was created with the educational bloggers he was reading and those that read his posts.
Will believes that for the blogging experience to be truly transformative for students they must extend “some ‘intellectual sweat’ — reading, writing, commenting, and thinking”. This wiki page from Alec Couros on Emerging Technologies summarizes Will’s levels of blogging from non-blogging to complex blogging.
Blogging as Professional Development
When asked for ideas to help classroom teachers integrate blogging into their classroom Will focussed instead on the importance of teachers using blogging for their own professional development, which starts by reading blogs on topics of interest and then commenting on other’s posts and eventually writing one’s own blog. He says that in order to understand how blogging can be transformative we must begin to experience it ourselves by following topics for which we have a passion.
In this post I take Will’s advice and instead of offering many suggestions for classroom blogging I strongly urge you to invest some time in following blogs that appeal to your hobbies and interests. That means that instead of talking about blogging in this post I will talk about RSS readers which will allow you to easily have information from blogs and other internet-based resources come to you rather than you having to go to each site to see if new information has been added.
What is an RSS Reader?
These icons indicate a feed, news updates from a website in form that is simple for a computer program to deal with. You read these files in a program called an aggregator or a reader, which collects news from various websites and provides it to you in a simple form.
For example, I use Bloglines as my reader/aggregator: This is what it looks like:
All the blogs that I subscribe to are along the side. Every time a new post is made it is indicated in bold. I can then click on the title of the blog and read the new post in the window on the right. I can also click on the title of the blog in the window on the right and go directly to the blog itself. When I registered in Bloglines I was given the option to add a subscribe button to my Bookmark tool bar. I often find new blogs that I want to read and when I do I simply click on the subscribe button and it is added to my bloglines account. Beware… this can easily lead to information addiction and even information overload!
One of the things that I like about Bloglines is that I can share my feeds with others.
Since I started using Bloglines a new service has come into being… Google Reader. Rob Wall has provided some screenshots on his blog that give an overview of Google Homepage and Google Reader- well worth a look!
You can see some more uses of RSS feeds by going to Alec Couros’ wiki page, Putting it all Together (RSS): What is RSS?
How to find Blogs
You can find blogs by going to the blog search page at Bloglines, the Google Blog Search and by searching Technorati which is an Internet search engine for searching blogs. As of December 2006, Technorati indexes over 55 million weblogs.
Reading blogs has been one of the most powerful professional development activities in which I have engaged in the past 26 years of teaching. Although my participation in the conversation has had a slow start I feel that I have encountered a community of colleagues that would never have been possible without access to blogging software.