Blogging for everyone

Hi there , my dear readers and guests! 
In this article I'll give an overview of blogging websites, suggests why you might want to use them, and gives some practical advice on setting up blogs for use with your own classes.
Blogging has quickly become one of the most popular ways of communicating and spreading information and news. There are literally millions of blogs online .It’s a great way to express yourself and also a fantastic way to share information with others. You become a better person and a better writer.
Blogging is becoming increasingly popular among the teachers as a language learning tool as well.
As you can see I have my blog already and can tell you that it is of a great help for me in my work.
So, I will share some tips and tricks on blogging with you here in my blog. But at first let me help you to understand 
  • What is a blog?
  • Types of blogs used in language teaching
  • Why blog?
  • Where to start
  • Tips for managing learner blog settingsSo, what is a blog?
First af all, A blog  is a discussion or informational site published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete entries ("posts") typically displayed in reverse chronological order (the most recent post appears first). Until 2009, blogs were usually the work of a single individual, occasionally of a small group, and often covered a single subject. More recently, "multi-author blogs" (MABs) have developed, with posts written by large numbers of authors and professionally edited. MABs from newspapers, other media outlets, universities, think tanks, advocacy groups, and similar institutions account for an increasing quantity of blog traffic.
A blog (short for weblog) is a frequently updated website that often resembles an online journal. It's so easy to create and update a blog - it requires only basic access to the Internet, and a minimum of technical know-how. Because of this, it is one of the easiest ways to publish student writing on the WWW. It's almost as easy as sending an email.

Nowadays, blogs can also display photos and some people are using them with audio and even video, but this article will concentrate on the basics, showing how a simple text-based blog can be used to great effect with your English language learners.

Types of blogs used in language teachingAaron Campbell (2003) has outlined three types of blogs for use with language classes:
  • The Tutor Blog is run by the teacher of a class. The content of this type of blog can be limited to syllabus, course information, homework, assignments, etc. Or the teacher may choose to write about his or her life, sharing reflections about the local culture, target culture and language to stimulate online and in-class discussion. In this type of blog, students are normally restricted to being able to write comments to the teacher's posts. A great example of this is Aaron Campbell's own 'The New Tanuki' http://thenewtanuki.blogspot.com/
  • The Class Blog is a shared space, with teacher and students being able to write to the main area. It is best used as a collaborative discussion space, an extra-curricular extension of the classroom. Students can be encouraged to reflect in more depth, in writing, on themes touched upon in class. Students are given a greater sense of freedom and involvement than with the tutor blog. A very good example of what has been done with this type of blog is Barbara Dieu's 'Bee Online'http://beeonline.blogspot.com/) and 'Bee Online 2' http://beeonline2.blogspot.com/
  • The Learner Blog is the third type of blog and it requires more time and effort from the teacher to both set up and moderate, but is probably the most rewarding. It involves giving each student an individual blog. The benefit of this is that this becomes the student's own personal online space. Students can be encouraged to write frequently about what interests them, and can post comments on other students' blogs. For examples, see the links to learner blogs from the class blog and tutor blog examples above.
Of course, teachers who decide to use blogs often use a combination of Tutor or Class blog and Learner blogs, with hyperlinks connecting them.

Why blog?So, why should you blog with your students? There are many reasons why you may choose to use weblogs with students. One of the best reasons is to provide a real audience for student writing. Usually, the teacher is the only person who reads student writing, and the focus of this reading is usually on form, not content. With weblogs, students can find themselves writing for a real audience that, apart from the teacher, may include their peers, students from other classes, or even other countries, their parents, and potentially anyone with access to the Internet.

Here are some other reasons for using blogs:
  • To provide extra reading practice for students.
    This reading can be produced by the teacher, other students in the same class, or, in the case of comments posted to a blog, by people from all over the world.
  • As online student learner journals that can be read by their peers. 
    The value of using learner journals has been well documented. Usually they are private channels between teacher and student. Using a blog as a learner journal can increase the audience.
  • To guide students to online resources appropriate for their level.
    The Internet has a bewildering array of resources that are potentially useful for your students. The problem is finding and directing your learners to them. For this reason, you can use your tutor blog as a portal for your learners.
  • To increase the sense of community in a class.
    A class blog can help foster a feeling of community between the members of a class, especially if learners are sharing information about themselves and their interests, and are responding to what other students are writing.
  • To encourage shy students to participate.
    There is evidence to suggest that students who are quiet in class can find their voice when given the opportunity to express themselves in a blog.
    • To stimulate out-of-class discussion.
      A blog can be an ideal space for pre-class or post-class discussion. And what students write about in the blog can also be used to promote discussion in class.
    • To encourage a process-writing approach. Because students are writing for publication, they are usually more concerned about getting things right, and usually understand the value of rewriting more than if the only audience for their written work is the teacher.
    • As an online portfolio of student written work.There is much to be gained from students keeping a portfolio of their work. One example is the ease at which learners can return to previous written work and evaluate the progress they have made during a course.
    • To help build a closer relationship between students in large classes.
      Sometimes students in large classes can spend all year studying with the same people without getting to know them well. A blog is another tool that can help bring students together.
Where to startThere are lots of sites where you can set up a blog for free, but perhaps the best known and one of the most reliable and simple blogging tools to use with students is Blogger (http://blogger.com), which I'm using right now . It takes only fifteen minutes from setting up an account to publishing the first post using this valuable tool. 
If you are interested, I can help you with the settings, design and other useful features in blogging. You only need to follow my blog.
The first thing I will tell about is How to Start a Blog on Blogger

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