One of the biggest things to hit the Internet in the last few years is a new phenomenon known simply as Blogging. It is taken from the term web logging and thousands of blogging sites are being added to the Internet daily. Indeed, this site itself, uses one of the more popular pieces of blogging software, WordPress, but there are many others to choose from. Just type in blog software or CMS [Content Management System] in your chosen search engine and you will soon find a myriad of choices before your very eyes.
Most require a server that can cope with Apache, MySQL and PHP, which are available on most respectable web hosts these days. Alternatively you can use a Windows IIS setup which is often the easiest available within a school intranet structure. [I highly recommend you are using at least Windows Server 2003 for this though, as IIS versions before this were not always so reliable.]
And if this last paragraph left you feeling like you just walked into an alien bar, then don’t worry, just get in touch with your technicians and tell them you want to set up a blog system within your school and you need database and PHP software in order to do so. Our technicians used my photo for their local darts competitions for the first 6 months when I first told them what I needed, but now they are starting to talk to me again and might even thank me one day. Seriously though, it really is not that big a deal. It’s just a matter of keeping up with the times.
And now that we have some of the technical gibberish out of the way, I hear you asking, but what is it and why would we use it?
Perhaps the easiest way to answer is that a blog can be used for almost anything. From writing simple poems to elaborate stories, to keeping a daily journal to recording scientific facts. The possibilities are endless. Basically, you type all of your information into the admin section of the software [see diagram below] and once you are completed, you click on publish to send your work to the front page of a website such as this. This is how it is used in it’s most basic form, but there are literally hundreds of ways in which it can be used to help motivate students in their work. Adding pictures, podcasts, web links and scans of written work are just some of the exciting add-ons from which to use. The biggest factor about it all is that the children often do not realise they are working when they use blogging software. It’s addictive and it enables them to step out of their tedious work books and into an exciting world we all know as desktop publishing. Blogging goes one step further though and allows for instant publication throughout either an internet or intranet setting.
We use it extensively within our school and as the ICT Co-ordinator and full time ICT teacher, I find it absolutely invaluable in my daily teaching. All lessons are presented via the school intranet website and children actively partake in presenting their work, commenting on each other’s contributions and adding photos, stories and presentations via the blogging system.
Yes, I openly admit it is a difficult task to incorporate it into a school, especially when technophobia is always lurking at the teachers door, but it is most definitely worth the effort.
And I am happy to help anyone who needs assistance with setting it up in your school. Just get in touch via our contact page and we can have a quick discussion which will get you started.
A few Blogging in Education ideas and resources: