CTLT Dialogues

The Blog of the Center for Teaching & Learning with Technology

Blogging with Your Students: Pedagogical Approaches to Using Blogs

Posted by ctlt on May 27, 2008

After lunch on Wednesday, Jonathan Goodman (Silberman College) led our first hands-on workshop. His guide to creating a free blog and installing resources to encourage and track its use is available for download as an MS Word document (.doc) here.

Jonathan recommends that faculty creating a blog for pedagogical purposes should use their own Google gmail accounts, or create new ones, and then go to Blogger.com and sign up for a blog. You’ll need to think up a name for your blog, which then becomes part of the URL for directing people to your site.

Jonathan took the workshop through some basic steps for creating a title and a description, and for listing a new blog . He then showed us what choices were preferable for formatting posts, for managing comments on the blog, and for archiving. Design considerations were mostly resolved by selecting a Blogger template, though that left some font and color choices for people who wanted to customize the look of their blog. Another consideration for Layout is how to select and arrange Page Elements, which may include advertisements.

He then showed us how to install Google Adsense, including how to create an account. Bloggers who add Page Elements (ad units and link units) for advertisements can sign up for Google’s AdSense, copy some specialized HTML/JavaScript code to their template, and Google will place ads on their blog automatically, based on topics and keywords appearing in posts on that blog.

Another tool Jonathan demonstrated is Google Analytics. Bloggers can create profiles for their Websites and copy some additional HTML/JavaScript code to their blog layout, and Google Analytics will track how users come to their sites, how long they stay, whether they visit additional pages on the site, and whether they become repeat visitors. That information is very useful in evaluating whether a blog is attracting visitors, and especially building a readership by encouraging repeat visits.

Another important tool is the AddThis Button, which encourages visitors to bookmark the blog and to share their bookmark with others in their social network. Jonathan demonstrated how to create an account, select the right look for the button element and how to add the HTML/JavaScript code to blog layouts on the Blogger platform.

Finally, Jonathan showed how to sign up for Google Alerts. Bloggers can identify topics they want to monitor, and Google will send email notifications to them when Google visitors search for those topics. This is a way to stay informed about new articles or posts

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