Tag Archives: blogs

Blogs: Activities 1 – 4

This week we’ve been looking at blogs

Below are some activities to get you using and exploring this technology.  Have a go, but if you get stuck remember you can email us at learning2.0@imperial.ac.uk and we’ll do our best to help!

N.B If you were able to attend the introductory session you will hopefully have completed Activities 1 -3 which means you can sit back and relax until next week!  Or if you like try Activity #4 and personalise your blog a bit, or take a look at the further reading.

Activity #1- Bag your blog!

Follow these simple steps to create your own blog.  You can also watch a brief tutorial we’ve produced to help you.

  • Go to WordPress.com, click on the big green ‘Sign up now!’ button.
  • Enter your username, password and email address (you can use either your Imperial email or your new Hotmail account)
  • Click the ‘Next’ button
  • Edit your domain name if you want to.  Your blog address will be http://yourdomainname.wordpress.com so choose carefully!
  • Edit your blog title if necessary.  This will appear at the top of your blog page – so again think carefully about the name.
  • Read the ‘terms of service’ by right clicking on the link and opening the page in a new tab.  You must check the box to confirm you’ve read these before continuing
  • Choose which privacy option you prefer
  • Click the ‘Sign up’ button
  • Check your email account for your WordPress activation email
  • Click the link given in the email and you’re off!

Activity #2 Email your blog details to us

We need:

Your name

Your blog address

Email your blog details to Learning 2.0 at learning2.0@imperial.ac.uk

Links to all the blogs will be put up on the Learning 2.0 blog.  When posting please bear in mind that work colleagues will be reading your blog, but you can make it as formal/informal as you like – it’s your blog.

Activity #3 – Write your first post

Each week you will be expected to post an entry of between 100 and 150 words.  Things to think about include what you thought of that weeks technology, what you learned and whether or not you think it would be appropriate in a work context (whether personally or as a part of the services we provide).  There are no right or wrong answers!

So your first post should be about blogs and maybe what you think of the Learning 2.0 programme so far.

And if you’ve got time…

Activity #4 – Explore templates and widgets

Explore templates

  • Click on the ‘Design’ tab in your dashboard and select ‘Themes’
  • Click on the template to preview how your blog would look
  • If you don’t like it, click the X in the top left corner
  • If you do like it click ‘Activate’ in the top right corner and you’ve got a new template.

Explore widgets

Widgets are bits of code which you can add to your blog to perform different functions.  For example you can add a calendar, or a list of your most popular posts.

To find out more about widgets and how to use them, visit the WordPress faq pages.

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Week 1: blogs

In this first week we’ll be looking at blogs.

What are blogs?

Blog is an abbreviation of ‘weblog‘.  As the name suggests ‘weblogs’ are logs or diaries which are online. Each entry written on the blog is called a ‘post’.

How did blogging begin?

The term weblog is generally attributed to Jorn Barger and was first used in 1997.  Wikipedia has extensive entry on the history of blogging if you’d like to learn more about where all this started.

Who blogs and why?

In recent years blogs and blogging have become pretty main-stream and thousands of new blogs are created every day.  Most blogs are written by individuals and focus on the events of their daily lives and are usually read by their friends and family – or often by no-one at all!  And, of course, there are a large number which feature amusing pictures of cats.

But it would be wrong to dismiss bloggers as a bunch of slightly self-obsessed nerds who want the world to know what they had for breakfast.  Now it seems that everyone blogs from politicians and heads of state to celebrities and captains of industry.  Even librarians are at it!  Blogging is free (or very cheap) to set up and run and this makes it a great way to get information out to a potentially unlimited audience.

How do blogs work?

Most blogs are written using specific software which is often freely available.  This usually involves signing up for an account and getting a free blog or blogs.  The software provider ‘hosts’ your blog online which is great as you don’t have to worry about any technical issues (usually!), all you have to do is write your post.  It’s also possible to use blogging software which is installed on your PC, but most bloggers go for the easy hosted option.

In our Learning 2.0 programme we’ll be using WordPress.com (because it’s the software we’re familiar with) other companies providing hosted blogging include Blogger, TypePad and LiveJournal.

Bloggers post, comment, muse and rant about anything and everything.  What blogs have in common is that they still retain the diary format with entries displayed in chronological order with the newest entries first.  Blogs are also searchable so readers can trawl back through the blog archives to find a particular post. ‘Tags‘ are used to categorise the content of posts and these are created by the blogger and can be used for searching.  Of course, librarians have used tags for ages – we just call them ‘subject headings’.

What’s with all the jargon?

As with all this new fangled Web 2.0 stuff, the blogosphere has its own jargon of pings, trackbacks, memes and, well, blogosphere. This useful glossary will have you talking like a true blogger in no time.

How do I find people’s blogs?

Finding blogs can be a bit of a challenge but there are many search engines dedicated to just this activity.  Probably the two best known are Technorati and Google Blog Search.

Now you’ve got a bit of background about this technology let’s start blogging!

Go to the blog activity page for your instructions.

Further reading

The world’s 50 most powerful blogs – With some sites receiving thousands of hits a day the influence of the blog is increasing. See what the Observer newspaper considered to be the 50 most powerful.

What’s the Ballyhoo about blogs? – Librarian’s opinions on the pros and cons of blogs and blogging. N.B. This article is hosted by ScienceDirect, so if you’re off campus you’ll need to do the signing in thing.

The ethical blogger by Karen Schneider – How careful do librarian bloggers have to be about ethics and professional standards?

Blogs in plain English from the Common Craft Show – OK, this is watch and listen rather than read.  Common Craft produce great little films on a variety of Web 2.0 technologies.  This 3 minute film tells you all you need to know about blogs.