Blogging Basics…where it began….
It has been a while since I have used WordPress, but I was introduced to it and other blogging sites back somewhere between 2006 and 2008. A close friend and colleague of mine offered a several session course (mini-workshops, if you will) called Blogging Basics through our Lifelong Learning Institute (generally aimed at our senior crowd in the local community). She asked if I would be interested, and I said, “What the heck? Why not?” She was really excited to share her blogs and experience, and I shared in her enthusiasm. She was already blogging about jewelry-making, crafting, and beading at the time; plus, she was new as a faculty member, and she was all about getting others to see the value of blogs in the educational arena….blogs and blogging were quickly becoming popular around campus during this time. I did not understand what blogging was at all until I took the course with her and some other very friendly senior citizens–I remember them pretty vividly since they all had varying technological skills, and I learned much just from listening and watching them in the whole process of learning how to blog.
In the course, I learned primarily how to use WordPress and Eblogger, and it was truly the basics, but I found, as a lover of reading and writing (especially journaling), I was immediately attracted to blogs and what they had to offer. For some reason, at the time, Eblogger attracted me more than WordPress, and it became my go-to blogging site for future use. As a result of completing the course, I went into the next semester with ideas about how to use weblogs in the classroom to supplement my developmental writing courses. I had also begun my master’s degree during this time, and blogging became the basis of several different course projects, research, and, finally, part of a practicum course. I stuck mostly to using blogs in the classroom with students versus blogging in my personal life. I was drawn to their use for learning.
I remember doing much research at the time about blogs and feeling like quite a novice when I started and just moved forward with using one in the classroom with my developmental writers… I needed something to liven my classroom, and the blog seemed like a perfect medium for my students at the time.
As I began to read through the blog literacy readings, I was immediately attracted to Learning With Weblogs, and I continue to see the value of using blogs in the learning process. I was caught by this: “More than traditional learning logs, weblogs offer students the opportunity and encouragement to actively participate in the continuous learning process of social knowledge construction in a number of ways.” For me, it was this idea that really made me love the blog and its purpose for my students….social knowledge construction was definitely the goal.
One of the specific ways mentioned included that blogs provide “Sustainable knowledge stock: Student weblog posts are not only shared but also stored as the community’s knowledge asset for all participants to revisit and reuse.” Again, I love the description here in relation to forming a community via the blog and allowing those members to revisit and reuse the knowledge base. It was those things that drew me to the blog in the first place…the social nature of them and the way authors could store knowledge, share it, and offer threaded comments continuously.
I maintained the class blog for at least one academic year before my life went into a whirlwind of having babies, going on maternity leave, finishing my master’s, and changing disciplines. When I shifted into teaching developmental reading, the curriculum was so packed I left out the blogging. I have used blogs more recently in the classes I have been taking….almost every class I just completed here at UW for the E-Learning Certificate had us using a blog for a project-based portfolio or for reflection purposes. I will be truthful and reveal that I do not do much blog reading on my own these days because I spend so much time on the computer for work, and now with the two little ones, time is always the problem. When I find myself looking at blogs, I get immediately sucked into them, and I love exploring all blogs….tech ones, writing ones, authors and musicians, and more. Some colleagues along the way have been naysayers about using blogs for educational purposes, and I have heard varying opinions, especially from “old school” English teachers at times who refuse to believe blogs can offer much to the writing world, but I am a fan.
I am excited to begin a new journey here with blogging, and I know this experience will fire up my love of wanting to use them in the classroom. I look forward to our experience together.
Du, H.S., & Wagner, C. (2007). Learning with weblogs: enhancing cognitive and social knowledge construction. 50(1), 4.