Saturday, June 14, 2008

Blogging 101

Some Background
I started blogging in November of 2007 and I am amazed at how much I've learned and grown as a result of blogging.  My network is expanding all the time; now it's time for me to work on local connections, with the folks in my district. In August I am doing a professional development session in my district on blogging.  I've billed it as 'Blogging 101; Blogs as Professional Development Tools'.  If the session fills up I'll have 20 people in a computer lab for the day (5 hours).  Ideally I'd like to have the participants sign up for Google Reader, read and start commenting on blogs, and finally set up their own blogs in Blogger (for ease of use).  If I can I'd like to have some folks Skype in on the session to help illustrate the power of the network.  My goal is to introduce teachers to blogging as a way to enhance their professional practice. This is not a session on how to get students blogging. 

I'd Like To Pick Your Brain
If this was your session how would you run with it?  Do you have an "aha!" moment to share or a golden resource?  What is the most valuable thing you've learned in your blogging journey?  My plan is to do a follow up post with everyone's suggestions (she says optimistically :) ), hopefully to act as a resource for others who might be considering running a similar session.  

Share and Share Alike
Tech Pro-D Tools is a blog I set up to support professional development sessions that I am involved in.  I'll be running the 'Blogging 101' session from that blog--posting links, resources, how-tos, and tasks there.  I hope that it will be helpful not just to the session participants, but to others too. 

Again, if you have any suggestions, ideas, links etc, I'd love to hear from you, no matter if you've been blogging since before it was called that, or if you just started yesterday :-)

Image: Cyan Brain by bebop717


  1. BTW, if I'm free, I'm happy to join the Skype session

  2. I would point them to the blog challenge and comment challenge for their ongoing learning.

    My biggest tip would be to encourage them to comment on people's blogs, so even if they don't set their up, at least they are getting a feel for how blogging works. Good luck, Sarah

  3. If they are all new and not very tech savvy, and you have 20 participants hands-on, I suggest you try and organise several people to help you (the more the better - provided you explain upfront the help needed).

    I'd also make sure you test everything you plan to do thoroughly on your network. I got caught out badly the other day just trying to set up iGoogle pages. Already knew that gmail was an issue on the network but didn't expect when we tried to save iGoogle page we would fail due to block by network (since I can run my iGoogle page on the network).

    My participants have extremely low skills levels so just setting up gmail account took 30 minutes. Definitely reading blogs is really important but wonder how long it would take to set up Google Reader, subscriptions and start commenting? Perhaps if you started instead by having a post written already asking them what they know about blogs, do they read blogs and what they would like to learn. Or something similar and get them to all write their own comment on the post. So get the conversation and commenting started first this way. Then set up their own blog and get them to write a post in response to your post and some of the comments on the post.

  4. @Sarah, thanks for the advice. I agree that one of the first things is to get them commenting. And thanks for the Skype offer! I'll get in touch later with the details and see if we can work something out.

    @Sue, I really appreciate your practical advice. I have not worked with students or teachers in a computer lab setting before and I admit that I'm more than a little concerned about the technical aspects. 30 minutes to set up a gmail account would certainly take up a big chunk of the session. Your idea of having a post set up already for them to go to and start commenting on first sounds great. Get into the more technical aspects later in day.

  5. I definitely endorse what Sue says. It will be a lot more time consuming than you think so double at the least the time you give for a particular activity.

  6. I have the e-mails of all the participants, so I might even see if some of them will sign up for Google accounts prior to the session. That would help and then maybe those who have accounts can help others. I also need to think of some way to break things up so folks don't go buggy.

  7. It may be worth doing a skills survey before the session to work out where they are in terms of technical ability.

    Here is the survey I used for podcasting workshop. I normally do it at the start of a workshop because if their skill levels are low they won't be able to do it online. Its best to do this survey before they come so you could also do a paper based version if concerned. The main aspects I looks for are: 1) have they set up online accounts before ; 2) do they download and install their own programs. If they do both it normally indicates they are tech savvy, and while might not have the skills you are after they will pick up quickly. Those that have neither of these skills need lots of additional support and it needs to be step-by-step; allow lots of time.

  8. Sue, you are awesome! Thanks for the link to the survey--it looks like a really good way to see where people are at.


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