Blog Development Projects (Blogger/WordPress)
Students can be asked to create or post to a blog in a number of different learning contexts. To avoid repetition (with material elsewhere in our support offering), and to avoid potential confusion, here we’ll discuss the development of a blog (using a platform other than the VLE) where a key motivation is to model real-world blogging behaviour (rather than say continue exploration of a topic between lectures for example – a mode of use for which VLE blogs are often employed).
As we have covered WordPress elsewhere, this page will concentrate on the use of Google’s Blogger platform, but it’s worth being aware that WordPress is a well-established and very capable platform for blogging.
|Blogger Pros (versus WordPress)||Blogger Cons (versus WordPress)|
|Blogger is a Google tool, all students at York can thus create a Blogger blog using their University account (students have to create an account at WordPress.com to create a WordPress blog/site).
Blogger is a University supported tool (WordPress is not officially supported).
|Blogger is not constantly developed in the way that WordPress is (thus WordPress generally has better functionality, is more intuitive and has a better selection of themes etc)
WordPress use as a blogging platform is more wide-spread than Blogger.
Drawing on an example from our Theatre, Film and Television department: third year undergraduate students (taking the department’s ‘Current Issues in Film & Television’ module) are asked to set-up and maintain a Blog using Blogger.
The blog activity is assessed, contributing 60% of the overall module mark and is aimed at developing students’ abilities on a number of different levels. Key abilities targeted are students’:
- ability to investigate and develop expertise in a significant topic or issue
- ability to respond and reflect on topical and up-to-the-minute developments in their chosen interest
- ability to write concisely, engagingly, entertainingly and with appropriate analytical expression as well as an individual and creative tone of voice
- ability to report on a theme regularly and publicly with an audience in mind
- ability to utilise all the tools at the disposal of the contemporary internet-user including images, video, audio, animated gifs, vines, tweets, forums, discussion boxes and so on
It’s recognised, certainly within the Theatre, Film and Television department, that blogs can actually change the terms of current debates and are replacing traditional media outlets as sources of news, insight and analysis (e.g. Huffington Post).
From a project work point of view, the blogging activity is relevant and stimulates both discipline specific and more widely transferable skills development.
Supporting Blog Development Projects
Although Blogger is relatively intuitive to use it would be a mistake to assume that, both technically and pedagogically, it does not need appropriate scaffolding with students.
Blog Development Workshop
From a technical point of view the E-Learning Development Team have developed a basic hands-on session to walk students through setting up a blog with Blogger. This session takes between thirty and fifty minutes to deliver (depending on cohort size and capability and requires a computer lab to be booked). When delivered by the E-Learning team we will typically work with staff to customise the session to the project the students are being asked to develop.
We’ve also made an accompanying written guide that covers the same ground as the face-to-face session and could be used as a template for running such a session yourself.
Coming Soon – Narrated walk-through of set-up.
As with the development of any non-discipline specific skills, the use of Blogger does need to be appropriately contextualised for students. Students will need to understand why they are being asked to learn a new tool or platform and what learning outcomes it is designed to support, this is especially the case if the work is not to be summatively assessed.
- Example blog marking criteria (Google Doc)
For further information, or to arrange workshop(s) for your students, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Blog Development Workshop – Additional considerations
If you want to use a Blogger blog developed by a student as an exemplar for future students to view, you will need to make sure to ask the student(s) to export their site before they leave the University. Ninety days after a student leaves the institution their Google account is terminated along with any Google based content associated with that account (including Blogger).
Similarly, if a student wants to continue using their blog after they have left the University they will need to take steps to transfer ownership/export the blog.
Example modules with student-generated Blogger output:
Summatively-assessed Blogger output:
- Current Issues in Film & Television (TFTV – Ed Braman)