1. Create your blog

Why do we have to do a blog?

A blog is a contemporary form of engaging in reflective practice and contributing to a professional conversation within a learning community. The blog genre lends itself to documenting a learning journey.

The blog assignment is designed to form part of your professional ‘digital footprint’. It is very important that as innovative teachers you build a professional digital footprint in social media. In particular, those of you who are interested in following a career in teacher-librarianship and/or digital pedagogies need to develop an active web presence. You will need to use your activity in this area when applying for jobs and demonstrating to employers that you are fully engaged in contemporary media.

How do I set up my blog?

Use a free web-based blog host such as: WordPressEdublogsBlogger.You may also use a website host such as Weebly or Wix but you must be able to activate a comments facility on each page.

Requirements:

  • The blog must be one available on the open web. This is because you need to understand how the open/free Web 2.0 tools work in order to teach your own students and colleagues how to use them
  • You must activate a comments facility for each entry
  • The blog must be open to everyone in the class to enable them to view and comment at any time
  • You are free to use a pseudonym
  • You can use a combination of Posts (entries that are undertaken in chronological order with date stamped entries) and Pages (single standalone entries), or just Posts or just Pages
  • Categorise and/or tag each Post to indicate the content of the post. Note that Pages cannot be categorised or tagged

Tips and Tricks:

  • Choose a blog template that has a wide content bar to allow you space for images and tables (be aware that some blogs have a very narrow content section)
  • Be aware that it might take many tries previewing different templates until you find one you like (I’ve been known to spend a whole day deciding on a template!!!)
  • Many templates offer a fly-out or drop-down menu for Pages (like I’ve used on this website). This can be a useful feature in organising your blog.
  • Be aware that table editing can be tricky in some blog tools. A work-around is to create a table in Word, then make a screenshot of the table which you then insert as an image. Here is a handy html table generator for those of you who would like to try html
  • Create a blueprint for your blog so you can decide about whether your blog will be all Posts, all Pages, or a combination of both. Look at the examples provided on the required posts for the ways in which previous students have set up their blogs in regard to Posts and Pages.
  • When initially setting up up blog consider naming the url with a meaningful name that relates to the content (i.e. inquiry learning) e.g.  https://roadtoinquirylearning.wordpress.comhttp://infosearch.edublogs.org/
  • Consider using a metaphor throughout your blog. Here is one of the best I’ve seen in recent years. But that’s because I’m a Harry Potter fan!
  • As your blog is public you must only use images that are: created by you, or have a creative commons license, or are in the public domain, or that are ‘stock’ images provided by your blogging tool, or that you have written permission from the copyright holder to use. Please see more information below. You must credit each image (see information on citing and referencing below).

Video: setting up your blog

Designing and writing your blog

What writing style should I use?

For this blog, you should write in a professional, reflective and scholarly style.

Professional: Your colleagues are your reading audience. Imagine giving a professional development session at a  staff meeting, or a conference presentation. That is the sort of tone and style you should adopt. You don’t need to use a highly formal academic style.

Reflective: Your feelings and opinions about teaching and learning are encouraged. You are an experienced educator, and you should use your experience to create a professional conversation.

Scholarly: Reference and cite all sources (hyperlink all open access sources). Write strong, clear and succinct topic sentences. Support the topic sentence with 2-4 sentences that provide evidence for the topic sentence. Each paragraph should have only one main idea. Start a new paragraph when you introduce a new idea.

Proofreading: Make sure you read all of your writing aloud. A great tip for is to extract each topic sentence in isolation from the paragraph and then read them all in order. The flow of your line of reasoning/argument should be apparent and the extracted topic sentences read in order should read like a summary of the piece.

How should I design my blog? 

The mind map below explains general web design principles, and some specific principles related to your blog. Remember that your blog is your professional digital footprint and it is your contribution to the professional conversation on inquiry learning.

Web design principles

Web design principles

Check out these links for more information on the general web design principles:

Editing HTML

It’s possible that you might need to use some basic html to tweak your blog pages, particularly in relation to line spacing and tables. Html is really fun and easy once you understand the logic 🙂

Using WordPress

There are a number of helpsites and YouTube videos with tips, tricks and trouble-shooting with WordPress.  The QUT Library subscribes to a database called Lynda.com that has high quality training videos for WordPress. I recommend that you use these. To access them go to the QUT Library databases page and search for Lynda.com. Or you could click here. You will need to register using your QUT email address. Search for WordPress and you’ll find the training videos.

Notes:

WordPress and Edublogs is basically the same platform – WordPress runs Edublogs. They do have some different functionality, but if you are using Edubogs you will still find the WordPress info helpful.

WordPress.com is the free blogging site. WordPress.org is a different beast – it’s where is where you can download WordPress and a number of plugins if you want to host the site on a different server (this website has been created using WordPress.org and it hosted by an external provider, not by WordPress). For the purposes of this assignment you only have to use WordPress.com.

Citing, referencing & using images

What referencing conventions should I use?

The University of Auckland provides an excellent  list of reasons on why you should reference:

http://www.cite.auckland.ac.nz/index.php?p=why_reference

http://www.cite.auckland.ac.nz/index.php?p=why_reference

If you use others ideas in any of your blog posts you MUST reference the source. The APA style is the style required by the QUT Faculty of Education . Here is the QUT Library APA guide.

Here are a few of the most commonly used examples:

Journal article:

http://www.citewrite.qut.edu.au/cite/qutcite.jsp#apa-jrnal-print

http://www.citewrite.qut.edu.au/cite/qutcite.jsp#apa-jrnal-print

http://www.citewrite.qut.edu.au/cite/qutcite.jsp#apa-jrnal-elec_doi

http://www.citewrite.qut.edu.au/cite/qutcite.jsp#apa-jrnal-elec_doi

Book:

http://www.citewrite.qut.edu.au/cite/qutcite.jsp#apa-books-print

http://www.citewrite.qut.edu.au/cite/qutcite.jsp#apa-books-print

Webpage:

http://www.citewrite.qut.edu.au/cite/qutcite.jsp#apa-online-webpage

http://www.citewrite.qut.edu.au/cite/qutcite.jsp#apa-online-webpage

Blog:

http://www.citewrite.qut.edu.au/cite/qutcite.jsp#apa-online-webblog

http://www.citewrite.qut.edu.au/cite/qutcite.jsp#apa-online-webblog

In general, when using a web-based format and you are referencing material available on the open web you should hyperlink as I have done above within the text and as a caption on the image. If you are not citing using material available the open web you should use an in-text citation and provide a reference list on each post.

Using images and video

When using images and video on your assignment blog need to make sure that you have the necessary permissions and that you provide attribution. If you have created your own image or video, you must state that it has been created by you. You can say something like ‘image created by author’.  If an image doesn’t have an attribution then it will be assumed that you have not referenced it correctly.

NB: Be aware that the rules of ‘fair use’/’fair dealing’ do not apply to publishing work on the internet that is freely available. 

You must not breach copyright. The images you use must be public domain, or have a Creative Common license, or be created by you, or be a ‘stock’ image made available by your blogging tool, or an image that you have written permission from the copyright owner to use. You must indicate this in the image caption. If you are using an image as a banner, please attribute the image on the Home page or About page of your blog as it is not possible to caption a banner image. 

Referencing images: reference in the image caption (you don’t need to include reference in the reference list)

Referencing video: reference in the text immediately before you embed the video e.g. ‘In this video Sir Ken Robinson discusses creativity’ (you don’t need to include a reference to the video in a reference list)

Here is a useful blog post explaining how to use Google search functions to find images that are in the public domain and that have copyright clearance for you to use.

Here is a tool called Photo Pin that allows you to search for Creative Commons images from Flickr.

Copyright information

Here is a downloadable pdf guide to essential copyright information.

The following infographics provide an overview:

 

Copyright & creative commons

 Creative Commons

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