Module 1: Blogs

Learning objectives

At the end of this module you will:

  • Understand what a blog is
  • Know how to create a blog and post to the blog
  • Understand why people/institutions have blogs
  • Have ideas on what blogs you may want to read

What is a blog?
A weblog (or “blog”) is a format for publishing content on the web. Blogs are, quite simply, web-based logs of information that have the following features in common:

  • content that is organized in reverse chronological order, with the most recent entry appearing at the top of the Web page;
  • a date and timestamp to indicate when the content was published to the blog;
  • archives that are automatically generated by the blog software

For examples of a blog see:
Digital reference
Library of Congress blog

The blog format began with the simple “What’s New” pages that littered the Web in the early days of web publishing. The blog format was formalized when web/tech savvy individuals began writing their own programs to make it easier and quicker to publish these sorts of pages, where it was important that current content appeared at the top of the page. Once these programmers made this software freely available online, the now widely-used blog format was born.

Blogging Software

There are 2 types of blogging software tools out there: hosted and installed.

Hosted blogs allow users to sign up for an account and a free blog. The company providing the software usually takes care of everything for you, and all you have to do is choose a name for your blog and write! To introduce you to blogging in a quick and easy way we will be using a hosted service, Blogger, for this module.

Installed blogging services provide you with software that you can download to your Web server. Installed software tends to be more powerful and gives you more control over the functionality and look & feel of your blog. The University of Waterloo Library has installed WordPress which is the software used to design the site for this training program.

Why blogs?

Why should I care about blogs?
Millions of people are blogging and more are reading blogs. Blogs are a quick and easy way to publish to the web without knowing HTML programming or waiting on a webmaster to post information for you. They are simple to create and maintain. As an added bonus your readers can subscribe to your blog so that you don’t even need to alert people when you add new content! (you will learn about subscribing to blogs in Module 2)

Blogs are ideal for current awareness, news items and commentary. They can be fairly informal and can handle text, hyperlinks, photos, videos and other multimedia files.

How can I use blogs in the library?

Library staff can use blogs to promote library events, services and resources, to invite comments from library users and to exchange ideas with each other or with library users. Blogs can provide a forum for communicating project updates. Of course, you can also create personal blogs on any subject imaginable!

Library staff can read blogs written by others to keep up to date with trends in the library world.

Examples of academic library blogs:
Georgia State University Library
SciTech Library News
Gov Docs on the Bayou
Lakehead University – Orillia Campus Library

Examples of blogs that may be of interest to information desk staff:
Association of College & Research Libraries blog
The Kept-Up Academic Librarian
Confessions of a Science Librarian
Information Literacy Weblog

Accessibility in a Web 2.0 World

If you decide to create a library blog, don’t forget to think about accessibility issues, for example, including alternative text for images. See Accessibility Resources at the end of this module for tips on making your blog accessible.

Activities:

Ready to start blogging? Good, because Activity 1 is to set up your own blog and add your first post!

Activity 1: (video of activity 1)

In this exercise you will be using the website Blogger to create your own blog.

    • Use Blogger to set up your own blog. It is a free, hosted blogging tool where you can set up an account and start a blog.
    Click the “create your own blog now” link.
    • Your blog address will be http://nameyouchoose.blogpost.com.
    • If you already have a blog and would like to use it to track your progress during this programme, feel free to do so!
    • How you choose to identify yourself on your blog is your choice. You can blog under a screen name, anonymously, or as yourself.
    • Once you’ve set up your blog, go ahead and add your first post!

The content of your first post can be anything you’d like; one idea would be to simply introduce yourself!

If you want to receive a certificate at the end of the Web 2.0 training, please send the URL for your blog to libweb20@library…

Activity 2 (optional)

Post a comment to the Web 2.0 blog on what you thought of this activity.

Accessibility Resources

8 tips for accessible blogging

How to make your blog accessible to blind readers

WCAG 2.0 Checklist

Information on the coming Accesibility standards for Ontario

Other resources (optional):

List of library-related blogs

Blogs in Plain English video

Anatomy of a Blog
Blog, Wikipedia article
• The Ethical Blogger – Karen Schneider
Why and How to Use Blogs to Promote Your Library’s Services – Darlene Fichter
7 Things you should know about blogs

Acknowledgments
This post is based on The Learning 2.0@Mac program.

29 Comments

  1. ahitchen Said,

    March 27, 2009 @ 12:41 pm

    Question: how do I get back to my blog if I forget to bookmark it or write down the URL?

    Answer: go back to blogger.com and log in. Your blogs will be listed with your account information. The blog list should show up as soon as you log in.

  2. Jane Forgay Said,

    March 27, 2009 @ 3:05 pm

    Great module, Alison.
    I learned a lot.

  3. Carol Steele Said,

    March 31, 2009 @ 10:18 am

    Hi, Web 2.0 trainers. This module was really easy to follow. Thanks.

  4. Lois Clifford Said,

    April 1, 2009 @ 12:54 pm

    This was very interesting–and easy to follow.

    Question: Is it possible to delete or edit a blog posting after it has been published? Just wondering.

  5. ahitchen Said,

    April 2, 2009 @ 8:25 am

    Question: can you delete of edit a blog posting?

    Answer: When you log in to blogger it should give you a list of your blogs. Clicking on the blog will take you to a list of your posts. With each post there is an edit link and there is a delete link.

    If you want to delete the blog itself, click on the blog and go to the settings tab. One of the blog tools is delete blog

  6. Margaret Yuen Said,

    April 2, 2009 @ 10:35 am

    This module has been well designed and easy to follow.

  7. Joan Lambert Said,

    April 2, 2009 @ 11:39 am

    How do you find someone’s blog if you don’t know their blog name.

  8. ahitchen Said,

    April 2, 2009 @ 4:11 pm

    Question: how do you find someone’s blog if you don’t know their blog name?

    Answer: There are a lot of blog search engines which index blogs: http://weblogs.about.com/od/blogreferenceguide/tp/Blog-Search-Engines.htm

    However, some people mark their blogs as private so that they aren’t picked up by search engines. Also, if you don’t know the title of the blog or their user name and they are writing on a generic topic it may be difficult to narrow down your search. In this case, it would be quicker to ask them to send you the URL! Blog search engines are best for finding a blog on a topic.

  9. Ruth Steinman Said,

    April 3, 2009 @ 3:16 pm

    Some of the other comments helped answer my own questions. I’m not sure if I did this entirely correctly because I simply used my uwaterloo email address. Do I need to get a gmail address? If so, how do I change this now?

  10. Michele Laing Said,

    April 3, 2009 @ 4:27 pm

    Blogging is a lot of fun and I would rather do this that a lot of the work I should be doing. Can’t wait for the next module.

  11. Lorna Rourke Said,

    April 4, 2009 @ 5:07 pm

    That was fun! Thanks.

  12. Zsuzsanna Lancsak Said,

    April 5, 2009 @ 6:51 pm

    I agree, blogging is fun but I suspect that blogs are like babies, they require lots of attention.

    Question: I wanted to change my blog’s name from “Famouslibrarians” to “Bookworm”. When I log on it displays “Bookworm” but the URL still has “famouslibrarians”. Can I change that?

  13. ahitchen Said,

    April 6, 2009 @ 10:28 am

    Question: if I change the name of my blog can I change the URL also?

    Answer: this can be done if you go into your blog settings and click on the publishing tab.

  14. ahitchen Said,

    April 6, 2009 @ 10:30 am

    Question: Do I need to get a gmail address? If so, how do I change this now?

    Answer: you do not need a gmail address, you can use any e-mail address that already exists.

  15. Pauline Said,

    April 6, 2009 @ 12:58 pm

    Three cheers for Alison! She has got us off to an rousing start with her easy-to-follow blog and its fantastic comments section. I thought I knew a fair amount about blogs and I have learned a great deal.

    I loved your screencast, Alison!

  16. Janet Wason Said,

    April 7, 2009 @ 2:43 pm

    Thank you for giving the opportunity to try things out–setting up the blog was straightforward and fun! Actually the hardest part was getting past the word verification–it took me 4 tries–most frustrating, but maybe I’ll remember the emotions when I’m dealing with a frustrated student… 🙂

  17. Janet Wason Said,

    April 7, 2009 @ 2:53 pm

    For a perspective on my problems with the word verification, read “How to Make Your Blog Accessible to Blind Readers”–our trainers have provided the link above–thanks so much for doing that.

  18. Kathy MacDonald Said,

    April 8, 2009 @ 9:38 am

    The description and instructions were very clear and helpful. it was easy and fun! It was a great basic introduction to blogging! I really liked the screen cast.

  19. Al Smith Said,

    April 8, 2009 @ 2:29 pm

    It was simple and straight forward. Could open up a whole new world

  20. Christine Jewell Said,

    April 9, 2009 @ 5:11 pm

    Great fun — thanks!

  21. Larisa Smyk Said,

    April 12, 2009 @ 8:26 pm

    Question: where to search for “our colleagues blogs” “to subscribe to there feeds”?
    Comment: link for “Feedster” doesn’t work.

    Thanks!

  22. ahitchen Said,

    April 13, 2009 @ 7:28 am

    Re: link to Feedster doesn’t work

    A: this is the link to Feedster but I noticed that when I googled it the link doesn’t always work from there either. Perhaps there are some connection problems with that site at the moment.

  23. Laura Said,

    April 13, 2009 @ 11:07 am

    I like your tutorial!

    Fun activity!

    Thanks

  24. Doug Said,

    April 14, 2009 @ 9:28 am

    A precautionary tale. A couple of years ago I experimented on Blogger then abandoned it because of functionality issues. I was recently notified it had started attracting spam. (- OOPS! -) If you blog, make sure it is locked up (or more likely, be careful what you unlock) against gratuitous contributions!

  25. Liz Said,

    April 14, 2009 @ 9:52 am

    I thought this module was excellent, especially the video, which made creating my first blog effortless. Thank you Web 2.0 training group!

  26. Mark Spencer Said,

    April 15, 2009 @ 3:28 pm

    Thanks to the Web 2.0 Training Team for a very simple yet effective module. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

  27. Cornelia Tiba Said,

    April 18, 2009 @ 8:42 am

    Great way to learn about blogging for the first time!

    The instructions were very helpful and easy to follow and the video made creating my first blog a breeze.

  28. Roslyn Keller Said,

    April 20, 2009 @ 9:00 am

    Thanks Web 2.0 Training Team. I did my first blog because of you.

  29. Marian Davies Said,

    April 28, 2009 @ 11:10 am

    Great fun!

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