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Blogging:. Using Web Logs for Educational Purposes Instructional Design Conference November 19, 2004 Presented by Alec Couros. Introduction. What are web logs? How does one publish a weblog?. Overview of Blogging.

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Using Web Logs for Educational Purposes

Instructional Design Conference

November 19, 2004

Presented by Alec Couros



What are web logs?

How does one publish a weblog?

overview of blogging
Overview of Blogging
  • A blog is a website made up of short, frequently updated posts (ideally) that are arranged in reverse chronological order.
  • Advantages of weblogging (for user):
    • Simple assisted html production
    • No web development or design tools
    • No FTP server needed
    • No server permissions
    • Live, web-based interface for instant publication
    • EASY as sending email
    • Simple syndication
overview of blogging cont
Overview of Blogging (cont.)
  • Blogging has evolved from its early origin as a medium for the publication of simple, online personal diaries, to the latest disruptive technology, the ‘killer app’ that has the capacity to engage people in collaborative activity, knowledge sharing, reflection and debate (Hiler, 2003).
  • The nature of blogging engines allows for the creation of a legitimate warehousing of captured knowledge, and archiving for later retrieval (Bausch, Haughley & Hourihan, 2002).
  • The literature (around blogs) seems to be concentrated in the areas where either the use of reflective journals as a learning tool is custom and practice (favorable disposition toward the tool) or areas in which knowledge management is stressed. (Stiler & Phileo, 2003; Wagner, 2003; Oravec 2002).
process of benefits of blogging
Process of Benefits of Blogging




Write and Link


Read Some More



Individual Voice

Information Literacy

Critical Reading

Critical Thinking

From Will Richardson, Blogging Presentation -

Anatomy of a Web Log – Moveable Type 3

Post Title

Static Address

Post Date



Link of Interest

Feedback/ Conversation


blogging software services
Blogging Software/Services
  • There are various tools that allow one to publish a blog. These are often split between software and web-based services.
  • Web-based services
  • Software
  • Web-based, owned by Google
  • Very simple to setup (takes a few minutes)
  • Easy to setup group blogs, but users must be
  • members
  • Limited customization (just styles)
  • Possible to serve Blogger blogs on external
  • FTP servers
Moveable Type
  • Software – created and supported by Six Apart
  • Must install on server, but easy to setup
  • User interface simple
  • Easy to create group blogs
  • Large user community
  • Used to be free to use, but version 3+ must belicensed (outside of personal use).
  • Much easier to customize to specific use
  • Open Source – free to use and modify
  • Must install on server, but easy to setup
  • User interface simple
  • Easy to create group blogs
  • Large user community, and many plug-ins available
  • Easy to customize style
the dawn of the blog

The Dawn of the Blog

Origins of personal, dynamic publishing.

in the larger context the open movement
In the larger context: The open movement.
  • Open Source Software: Linux (alternative to MS Windows), Open Office (alternative to MS Office), the GIMP (alternative to Adobe Photoshop)
  • Open Content
    • CourseWare and Learning Object repositories: MIT’s OpenCourseWare Initiative, CAREO, MERLOT, CLOE, DLORN.
    • Wikis: Wikipedia, Wikitravel, Wikibooks.
    • Texts: California Open Textbook Project,
  • Free “As in Beer” Content
    • Journals: Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
    • Literature: Project Gutenberg
  • Open Publishing
    • IndyMedias: Independent Media Centre, TearItAllDown
    • Blogging Services: Blogger, LiveJournal
    • Other: Student Publishing
opposing forces
Opposing Forces

Open vs. Closed

Broadcast vs. Conversation

Institution vs. Individual

Hierarchy vs. Network

Centralized vs. Decentralized

Product vs. Remix

Planned vs. Chaotic

Static vs. Dynamic

Push vs. Pull

From Steven Downes Utah Presentation, 2004

virtual counterparts
Virtual Counterparts

Internet vs. Television

Blogging vs. Newspapers

Fax Machine vs. Courier Services

Skype vs. the Telephone

Email vs. Snail Mail

Technology... the knack of so arranging the world that

we don't have to experience it. ~Max Frisch

From Steven Downes Utah Presentation, 2004

  • Technorati reports over 4 million blogs
  • Web-based Blogger is currently the
  • most widely-used service


blogging as a social act
Blogging as a Social Act
  • A blog is basically a journal that is available on the web. The activity of updating a blog is "blogging" and someone who keeps a blog is a "blogger."
  • Blogs are typically updated daily using software that allows people with little or no technical background to update and maintain the blog.
  • Distinction: Publishing a blog vs. the “social act of blogging”.
  • Habermas: Blogging may represent a communicative action into the sphere of intersubjectivity known as the "life-world" (the sphere where everyday practices are interpreted, negotiated, given social significance, and where human meaning is both made and made use of by thinking and acting subjectivities). This communicative act, for Habermas, represented a way out of the oppression and monopolization.
types of blogs

Types of Blogs





Course Enhancement


Collaborative Learning Space

Knowledge Management




real implications
REAL Implications
  • Student Publishing and Perceptions: “Why should I hand in my assignments to you, when I can publish to the masses”. (Grade 5 Student, Edmonton Alberta).
  • The concept and realizations of “the invisible college”. What are the implications?
  • Promotes careful wide-reading, synthesis and critique.
  • Promotes careful management of knowledge both personally, and socially.
  • Greater access to knowledge (not publicly funded knowledge tied up in commercial, subscription-based journals), and freedom to edit and distribute.
  • Example: Lessig’s “Free Culture”
blogging in education
Blogging in Education
  • Secret Life of Bees (Novel Study)
    • Student site
    • Parallel parent site
  • Teacher Mentoring/Supervision -

"Through the use of our Weblog we've been able to build a relationship, engage in reflective practice, have interactive opportunities that develop and broaden our knowledge base, and document evidence of growth and refinement in the practice”

  • Web-logged
    • Resource for blogging and RSS in education
  • Using Wikis and Blogs in the Classroom
  • Book about Blogs (Blook)
  • *** RML (Rip, Mix, Learn) - using Blogdigger
key understanding rss
Key Understanding: RSS
  • Weblogs may not appear to be technically different than a standard webpage, however a key difference is the use of a technology called RSS.
  • RSS (Really Simple Syndication) allows readers to subscribe to weblogs through a news reader.
  • Some free newsreaders include
    • FeedReader (PC Software)
    • NetNewsWire Lite (Mac Software)
    • Bloglines (Web-based News Reader)
    • Show Demo (Shrook for Mac)
  • Other tools
    • Feed2JS
    • Blogdigger
    • Feedburner
  • Blogging a different dissemination model than writing refereed papers.
  • Official university communication vs. faculty point-of-view.
  • Blogging in relation to faculty tenure and promotion.
  • Comment spam - an increasing problem.


Where to get started with the open movement

and educational blogging.

starting places
Starting Places
  • Couros Blog
  • Wordpress site
  • Article “Inside the Ivory Tower” - Blogging in Higher Ed.
  • Article “Educational Blogging” - Stephen Downes
  • Scholars Who Blog
  • PodCasts: The New Twist on Net Audio
  • Blog Research (many articles)
  • Many more weblog related articles
  • Stephen Downes’ Page

This presentation can be downloaded at:

click ‘Presentations’, then ‘Recent’,

Please contact me - email: [email protected],

or Google me: keyword, ‘couros’

Thank you for your time and attention.