Introduction

This post is about getting started with blogging at CYOC! Many of the steps to help you get started include links to the Edublogs Teacher Challenge on kick-starting your blog. We suggest you set yourself a target for completing the activities and that you read and comment on the posts of your colleagues who are also blogging at CYOC.

The Ten Steps to Blogging

 1. Getting a Blog

If you are a CY O’Connor Institute Staff Member or Student and you would like to start Blogging with CYOC please complete and submit the form below. Your personal blog URL will normally include your name. Additional blogs such as a course blog will include the course name in the URL

To get your blog please complete  and submit the form below

Your task for this step

  • Complete and submit this form
First
Last
If you are a STUDENT please tell us your Course and your Lecturer's name

The form will go to the Site Administrator will then organise your blog for you and help you get started either face-to-face or online.

2. Why would I blog & what is a blog anyway?

One of the best ways to start blogging is to challenge yourself to blog through a structured approach.

Check out “Why Blog?” by Sue Waters of the Edublogs Team. This gives you an introduction to blogging with some example blogs used in education contexts, and provides the foundation for the “Edublogs Challenge” on starting to blog.

Your tasks for this step

  • Take a look at the embedded slides below – and look at some of the examples given. If you are a CYOC staff member (the recording is not available outside the Institute) and didn’t attend the Professional Development session then check your emails for the recording link (or ask for it) and watch the recorded session.
  • Add a comment to this post to tell colleagues that you are starting to blog so that they will know that you are blogging also. Then you can read and comment on one another’s posts later.A blog a week keeps you at your peak!
View more presentations from Jo Hart

We will be linking to several of the challenge posts and others from the Edublogs Team for the rest of our own “Ten Steps to Blogging” program.

3. How to customise your blog and get ready to post

To do anything on your blog you first need to get “behind the scenes”. This involves logging in to the administration area of your blog – called the dashboard. This Edublogger post steps you through the alternative ways to do this. Once into your dashboard you can manage your blog in various ways. Some dashboard basics are explained in the post on dashboard use. The main change that most people naturally want to make when they first start blogging is to personalise the look of their blog and the way to do this is to change the blog “theme” as described here in a post about how to change the theme.

Your task for this step

  • Log in to your dashboard and customise your blog, change your theme to something that you like and make any other changes that suit you.

4. Writing “good” posts

A “good” post is really one that does what you want it to do! While it is always exciting (and sometimes a bit scary) to discover that others are reading your posts, the important thing is that they work for you.

Posts for different purposes will be very different, for example if you are writing or using video or images to think about your own practice as a lecturer then the post will look very different from one you might write to answer some frequently asked student questions.

In this post on writing effective posts from the  challenge Sue Waters gives an introduction to blog posts and gets you started on writing your first post.

Your task for this step

  • Write and publish your first post – tell everyone you have postedby commenting on this “Ten Steps” post and including the link for your post. You can also email the link to other CYOC bloggers so that they can read and comment on your post.

 5. Posts or pages?

What you are reading now is a “post”, although once we really get going with blogs it may be better to re-write it as a “page”. It is worth getting a clear idea of the difference so that you can decide which to use when! This post on pages from the challenge gives a clear explanation and also get you started on your own “About” page that introduces you to readers. You might like to check out the “About me” page on my personal blog  and this one which is the “About” page for my pilot CGEA course blog

Your task for this step

  • Write and publish your own “About” page on your blog, add a comment to this post with the link.

 6. Making connections

One of the best things about blogging is that it provides opportunities to connect and communicate. This is great for professional connections and is also terrific for working with students.

This post on connecting with others will help you set up Really Simple Syndication (RSS) so that you can automatically receive notifications when your chosen colleagues or students post to their blogs, and also in some cases when they comment.

Your task for this step

  • Follow the process in the post on connecting with others to set up an RSS feed, subscribe to some CYOC colleague’s blogs and find at least one more that interests you. Post to your blog to tell everyone that you have done this and share links to those blogs you have subscribed to.

7. Including images

Adding images to your posts adds a lot of impact to what you say. For example this is one of my own images created to illustrate how we can overcome the huge distances in WA using technology.

Images can also be very useful if you are, for example, sharing industry related information with students. You can provide an image or images to illustrate what you are saying – particularly helpful it you are describing features of a piece of equipment or steps in a process.

Once you start adding images or embedding media of any kind you need to be very aware of copyright issues and it is critical that you also ensure that your students understand the risks and responsibilities of including these. “The Educators’s Guide to Copyright, Fair Use and Creative Commons” gives great advice as well as links for sourcing images that you can use.

This challenge post on adding images has instructions on the “how to” aspect. It also has great advice on the need to re-size images including some suggested tools. My own personal preference for image editing/re-sizing for adding to blogs is PhotoFiltre, a free download that is very easy to use. This is the editing tool I usually share with colleagues and students.

Your task for this step

  • Write a blog post that includes one or more images – you might find No.6 in the challenge post helpful in deciding what to write about.

8. Embedding media in your posts

You can embed all sorts of media in your posts in addition to static images. Click the “play” button to hear what Sushi has to say.

This post on embedding various media comes from the Edublogs challenge. There are lots of examples showing a range of media embedded in blogs and some excellent help on how to go about the process.

Your task for this step

  • Decide on something you would like to try – make and embed your chosen object in a post about why you chose that particular medium and what was easy or hard about getting it into your post.

9. What is a widget & why do I need them?

Widgets are the things that sit in the sidebars of your blog. They have many different functions, you can choose the ones that are most useful for your purposes and you can also move them around within and between the sidebars. Checkout this Edublogs post on widgets including the most important ones to have on your sidebars. Personally, I love to know where my blog visitors are from so some sort of graphic of this is essential for me and I always have a ClusterMap in my own blogs

Your tasks for this step

  • Decide on a small number of widgets that you think will be useful for you, put them in your sidebar(s) and rearrange the sidebar contents so that they work for you.
  • Post about the widgets you have chosen, find at least one colleague’s blog and comment on a widget they are using.

10. Your  blogroll, your readers, and your comments

You can use the blogroll in your sidebar to list and link to your favourite blogs – the ones that are most useful to you. This is also interesting to your readers who may visit those links from your blog after reading your posts. The challenge post on readership and blogrolls tells you how to set up a blogroll and also gives ideas on how to increase your readership. You may or may not be interested in getting lots of people to read your blog, often your readership will just grow slowly anyway and whether you wish to encourage this is your choice. More readers does mean the potential for more comments and comments are a significant aspect of blogging.

Commenting on other posts and having your own posts commented on is an important part of blogging. If you are going to have a course blog and/or encourage your students to blog it is really important that you encourage comments on your own posts and make them on the posts of others. Commenting is public feedback and this Lifehacker post although several years old makes great points about good commenting that you may find useful for your students as well as yourself

Your tasks for this step

  • Set up a blogroll (it doesn’t have to be a huge list 2-3 blogs is fine, you can always add to it) and then post about setting it up.
  • Visit a colleague’s blog visit one or more of the blogs on their blogroll and leave them a comment to say which of the blogs on their blogroll you visited and whether you found it interesting.

Conclusion

Well now you have (hopefully) made a start with blogging! It doesn’t come naturally to everyone. It certainly didn’t for me. I have always done most of my reflection in my head and still do! When I started blogging three years ago there were long gaps between blogs until eventually I found a purpose that suited me and enabled me to establish a blogging “habit”. I persevered because I wanted ultimately to be able to use blogs with students and for me it is always important and helpful to “walk the talk”. Having said this I still don’t always post regularly – sometimes I have too many other things that overwhelm me. At the moment I have not posted for over 2 weeks and I have a backlog of webinar overviews to post on my personal blog. I will catch up by posting a combined post about the webinars and then be back to my regular routine.