Blogs: June 2007 Archives

How Many Blogs?

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The Movable Type system at Penn State allows you to create multiple blogs for multiple topics. Which is best?

If you want your blog to be a journal or diary, maybe one blog is best. Some of the "hottest" blogs are based on people writing about their lives in interesting ways.

But there may be times when you may want more targeted blogs. For example:

* You may want one blog to discuss your research or hobbies, but another for your friends and family talking about your wedding or pet.
* Another tip: If you're interested in hits, then a specific topic blog may also be a good idea. Many users like to follow blogs on specific topics and want to find other "experts" or "enthusiasts" in their interests.

Fortunately, Movable Type gives the option for either.

Do Students Need Blog Guidelines? Of Course!

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Blogging in an academic context is relatively new, so students may not be sure what to expect. And don't forget that younger students may equate blogs to their Facebook account.

Unless your course topic touches on what parties your students attended, guidelines are generally recommended. Blogs and threaded discussion share similar features, so many guidelines are similar.

Some guidelines I might recommend

1. List topic parameters for students.
2. Suggest students avoid writing anything they don't want a future employer (or their parents) to read.
3. Suggest post lengths and tone. Do you want blogs to be semi-formal reflections, professional news stories or formal research notes?
4. If students are commenting on posts, then avoid personal attacks.
5. If you want each student to post, then make a certain number of posts required.
6. Don't grade in public - many blogs may be viewable by the public, so grading information must be kept confidential as always.
7. If topics are sensitive, allow students to post in a private space. ANGEL bulletin boards are still a good option for that.
8. Most users use correct punctuation and grammar on blogs, but it doesn't hurt to remind students to use it.

P.S. Blog guidelines should not be too surprising. Guidelines have been needed for every new communication technology including chat, e-mail and threaded discussion.