Using Blogs in Teaching and Learning

Making Connections and Improving Learning

@sisterzissou Alverno Summer Hybrid Class 2013

Close up photo of Jaume Plensa's Spillover II in Atwater Park by Michael Newman.  Some rights reserved

What is a blog?

Blogs or "web logs" emerged with the growth of the internet and more accessible web publishing tools  in the late 1990s.  At their inception, blogs were largely single-authored pages focused on a topic or theme, or perhaps general personal reflection, but now function in many ways from multi-author blogs to micro-blogging.  This almost 25 year old technology shapes the way we experience the web and undoubtedly has contributed to the overwhelming success of the web to infiltrate all aspects of our lives.

Key features (These are not all required to be considered a blog).

Organization based on "posts" - or discrete entries to the log.

Multiple posts, usually displayed in reverse chronological order.

Normally, they include a time stamp (this can be changed or manipulated).

Readers are often invited to comment or reply to posts on the blog.

The blog contains archives so that you can follow posts.

Titles to each post

Tagging is employed by the most successful blogs as a means of organization.

Many blogs include "About" pages that provide details on author(s) and the blog's purpose.

Many blogs contain a Blogroll - or links to other related blogs.

Many blogs contain feeds (RSS or other)

With advancements in media interfaces for blogs, blogs can now be dedicated to various media forms including sound recordings, images, and video.

A Few Examples

Milwaukier than Thou,

Why use a blog?

Alverno College, "The 8 Core Abilities"

Versatility - Multiple Media for any purpose

Student expertise

Teaching and Learning for the Abilities

Potential for Peer and Self Assessment

Mastery of Content

Public or Private Audiences

Professional Application

What makes a blog successful?

  • Focus: Interest Driven
  • Production: Students Create Something they Can Save and Share
  • Peer-to-Peer Learning: Lots of space for peer and self assessment
  • Academic Focus: Make the blog about student learning and fully integrate it into the course.
  • Engaging the Tools Embedded: Tagging, Linking, Media Use, Titles, Organization, Archives, Feeds
  • Having your own blogging practice - being a good mentor!

What web publishing tool should I choose for my class?

"Milwaukee Works Out: 'Ownership is Alverno's Wellness Theme" Photo by Scott Paulus, BizJournal


Getting students engaged and generating content

Public vs. private

Encouraging multi-media use

Occasional technology failures and mishaps (although quite rare)

Blog Graveyard - Staying committed and knowing when to stop

Thank you for your attention!


Blood, Rebecca. "Weblogs: A History and Perspective", Rebecca's Pocket. 07 September 2000. 12 July 2011. .

LeFever, Lee and Sachi. "Blogs in Plain English", The Commoncraft Show.

Madrigal, Alexis. "The Best Academic Blogs", The Atlantic. 12 April 2013.

Mielsen, Rich. "Blogs 101", The New York Times. .

WordPress. "Types of Blogs".