Monday, October 29, 2012

(27) Week 12: Blogging

Blogging is short for 'web log'. Blogs are websites consisting of short or medium length posts written by an individual or a group.

Most blogs are a platform for interaction, allowing readers to leave comments, vote up or like posts, or send to their networks via social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook.

How does blogging compare to other writing?
Blogging is clearly different from academic publishing or posting a message in a Learning Management System such as Desire2Learn. For researchers, blogging is a more rapid form of communication than journal publishing, and allows us to disseminate our thinking, test ideas, and indicate our early work in a particular area.

Web 2.0: participation, access and interaction.

Unlike newspapers or Web 1.0 websites, blogging is a platform that allows anyone to have a voice and publish their views. The speed of publishing and the interactivity of blogging allow readers to pose questions to the author, or robustly exchange views with other readers.

In addition, the democratic nature of the platform means that anyone can blog. See this example of a 9 year old student in the US blogging her disappointing school lunches. 

SENS Examples:
Some of our colleagues are blogging - have a look at each one and note the clear layout or each, and that each author offers high quality writing on a specific topic. 

Russell has a been writing a blog on Sensory processes here. Russell provides a good example of how to deal with a complex issue such as dietary salt intake and flavour by writing about it over a series of posts. This is a clever way of encouraging readers to explore a topic in depth while keeping it to a manageable length.

Tim has been writing for The Conversation for some time, and is now also publishing articles in his Thinking Nutrition blog, providing the public with a clear summary of the state of research in nutrition. One of his posts was published on The Conversation this week. Tim has quite a few readers and followers, and tweets out links to his new post each time he publishes.

Another terrific example we have of blogging in the school is by one of our social media stars, Jacquie Tran. Jacquie writes a blog called The High Performance PhD, reporting on her approaches to study and research that maximise her productivity and excellence! Jacquie also has a feed from her Twitter account on the right of her blog, integrating her blogging and her microblogging (Twitter).

Why blog?

Some of the ways in which blogging can support and enhance professional practice, research and education are outlined below. You may know of others.

Task 1: Begin to follow some bloggers in your field. (Share those you already follow in the Comments below.
Here are some examples. Please post in the comments below if you have others you would recommend.

University blogs
- Deakin speaking

- Flinders University 
- An internal University of Melbourne blog for staff

International health

Scientific American - see the dropdown menu of Blogs in the network such as Doing Good Science. Or you can search all blogs.
National Institute of Mental Health
ScienceInsider - policy news and analysis  

Australian health
Croakey - The Crikey health blog (link) (note you can share the link to a blog post on your LinkedIn profile)

Blogging tools
There are several blogging tools.
  • Blogger -
  • Wordpress -
  • Posterous -

The simplest is Blogger so we will use that Geeky types (here is the definition !) may wish to use Wordpress.

Task 2: Set up a blog - yes go on! It's easy.
You may wish to set one up for yourself, or for your team. 
- Register at Blogger. You will need to create a Google account.
- Click the Create a new blog button. Choose a title and a web address for your blog. You don't need to choose the template yet.

Task 3: Choose your blog settings
- Click on the name of your blog.
On the left menu, choose the Template button. Scroll down and choose a template. (For example, the template this blog is based on is the left most Picture Window template.)
- Click "Apply to blog".
- Click the View glog at the top of the screen to preview your blog.

Click Add a gadget" to add new tools such as the Follow by email tool (notifies readers you have published a new post).

Settings: click settings to set permissions and other very important settings:

- Change the title of your blog
- change the privacy settings
- add authors
- set the readership to Anybody, Blog authors only, or only specific readers.
Now click Save settings at the top right. 

- Displays the number of posts that are displayed (I have it set to one for this blog)
- Who can comment? Set this to Registered User - this prevents spammers automatically publishing promotional comments.
- Now click "Save settings" at the top right.

When you view the blog, you can click the "Design" button at the top right to edit your blog post or create a new one.

Task 4: Plan your first blog post.

Decide on your topic, write a plan and gather resources. Discuss your ideas with a friend, a colleague or with me.

Task 5: Write your post.
- Click the "Create new post" button (pencil icon) at the top of the screen.
- Write, add images, embed videos.
- Save as a draft. When you are ready, click Publish.
- Email me to let me know, or add your blog web address in the comments below.

Good blogging practice:

(1) Choose a topic that is interesting and clearly defined, so the audience understands what your blog is covering. This will encourage them to return.
(2) Choose a topic you enjoy, so that you will remain engaged over a period of time.
(3) Blogging is a story-telling medium. Take your reader on a journey, and start each post with why it's interesting, important or relevant.
(4) Include visual representation of ideas or data - as we discussed in last week's module, visual literacy is increasing.
(5) Write concisely.
(6) Commit to writing regularly. Writing regularly builds your learning, your career progression and your research progress. 
(7) Integrate your blogging into your other social media tools. So tweet your followers when you have a new post, or post it on Facebook. Put your blog address in your email signature. Tell everyone about your blog!
(8) Integrate and build on the ideas and work of others in your blog. Blogs, as with other social media, are not solely about dissemination of your own work, but building and sharing with your Professional Learning Network. 

And this post by Dave Munger "How to write a good research blog post" includes more recommendations.

Congratulations! Super effort!

You have earned your Week 12 Badge Creator,
And you have now completed the "Assembling your digital toolkit" project. Brilliant effort.

The learning will continue... but you now have these digital literacies in your toolkit, and all tools you will come across will fit into one of these (for a while at least!).

Now for Part II... ;)

Friday, October 26, 2012

(26) Friday flicks: Digital Literacies + TimeZones

Video 1:  Living and working on the web.

 This week's first Friday flick is a video outlining a Digital Literacies program developed for students at the University of Southampton by Dr Lisa Harris.

Here is the link to the webpage with the video - scroll down to find the video.

Notice the learning outcomes of the module are:

Having successfully completed this module students will:

1. be proactive, confident and flexible adopters of a range of web and mobile technologies for personal, academic and professional use
2. use appropriate web and mobile technologies effectively to search for, store and curate relevant information
3. be equipped to reflect upon and critically evaluate the information obtained
4. engage creatively and productively in relevant online communities
5. be familiar with the use of collaboration tools to facilitate networking, group work and project management
6. be aware of the challenges inherent in ensuring online privacy and security
7. have developed appropriate communication skills for peer and tutor interaction within an ‘always on’ environment

Interestingly, the content is very similar to the topics we are covering in the Assembling Your Digital Toolkit program.

(1) How can we support our students to develop digital literacies?
(2) Are those above the right Learning Outcomes for our Exercise Science and Food and Nutrition graduates?


Video 2:
The Secret Powers of Time by Professor Philip Zimbardo
We are talking a great deal about change at the moment and particularly in this Digital toolkit program. This is a future-focussed approach that may not be the way we or our students approach life.

Here is a 10 minute RSA version of a talk by Philip Zimbardo on research that identified different ways people live in time (and here is the live 40 minute version).