Notes from a Laptop

January 29, 2008

How to set up a blog

Filed under: Blogs,Tutorials — Lindajay @ 11:58 am

blog.jpgGone are the days when you needed to know about html and ftp transfer of files to add pages to the web. It is now possible for just about anyone to have a presence on the web. Using a wide variety of blogging technologies, individuals, schools and businesses have developed their own social web sites.

As acknowledged by Will Richardson in his book, Blogs, wikis, podcasts and other powerful tools for classrooms, we now have a new writing genre. Blogs provide a place for “connective writing” for large audiences, and potentially, to generate discussion across the globe.

But where to start?

A number of options exist, and recommendations will vary according to whom you speak. Will details the setup using Blogger, which is owned by Google. WordPress is  another popular choice for individual’s blogs, and Edublogs is a also good option for those setting up blogs to be used in educational situations, and one I have found to have great support.

To set up in Edublogs (having considered the purpose, privacy and practical considerations), you need to:

  1. begin at Edublogs, click on ‘sign up for free’
  2. select a username (which becomes part of the blog address, so be thoughtful in your choice) and password
  3. agree that it is for educational purposes, and verify, using the image details
  4. then hit ‘Gimme a blog’
  5. in the next step, you may have adjust your username (try to make it unique – and remember it cannot be edited later)
  6. you can enter the blog title – which can be edited later
  7. select the blog type (as a teacher) and whether you want it searchable by search engines
  8. then select ‘Create Blog’

After this you need to consider the privacy options and how the blog will be moderated. After this the fun of choosing the blog’s appearance can begin.

Initially, for school use, it is wise to set up so that the blog is not promoted on say Google, and that all comments are seen by the administrator before adding to the blog. This avoids both inappropriate comments and spam.

To do this, work your way through the Options:

  1. on the General tab, you can edit the name of the blog, set the time and your calendar, etc.
  2. on the Discussion tab, you should choose to have comments approved before addition to the blog (and tick off must have previously approved comment) – this means you will receive email notification to moderate comments.
  3. on the Privacy tab select the required option – you may want a class blog to be relatively private

To write to the blog, selecting the Write tab will open a wyswig editor, where you can enter your thoughts. Save as you go, and be sure to save any work before clicking out of the editor, to save the grief of lost work. After writing in the post space, you can click in the categories box to add a term to identify your post with a particular theme. You should also decide if you wish to receive comments or ping backs on your post. When your post is complete (you can preview it between saves), you can then select ‘Publish’ to send it to the blog. 

To add images, documents, slideshows or video you need to upload them in the box below the posting space. See Edublogs videos for further details on these elements if you have difficulties.

There are many tutorial videos avaiable on the Edublogs site, and even as you first visit your new blog you will see that your front page has lots of details to view and edit out, as you take ownership. The Presentation tab enables you to browse a large number of different themes, which you have to trial for suitability – some do not fit the screen as well as you might hope, while others are able to be modified. For some themes you can create your own header (using your own images), and most will allow you to select the options in your sidebars (when you click on the Widgets tab). Start simple then change and adapt as you become more confident.

Another facility you should utilise is the ability to collect your favourite links in the sidebar in a Blogroll. Notes from a Laptop includes links to lots of useful educational bloggers, but any internet link can be listed in Blogroll – just click on the Blogroll tab and add any relevant/useful links.

This outline is just a start, and though specific to Edublogs, may be applicable to other options. Be alert to changes which may occur as the developers are always working on ways to improve the options, and, enjoy the journey!


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