Exploring Blogs

Explore the purpose and products of educational blogs.

Read some informative blogs focuses on blogging in education.

​Finding examples of great educational blogs can also be done with a web search e.g. Edublog Award winners 2014.

As you explore these blogs, make a list of features, design elements, qualities, content that would be useful for your own blogging experience. What are the qualities of an effective educational blog? What features resonate or reflect your personal interests or style?  Collect a few relevant or interesting links and annotate them for future reference. ​

Examine some examples from the field of teacher preparation, where students and teacher candidates in their pre-professional and professional study are also learning about blogging.

  • University of Regina, Dean Shareski provides some considerations for blog posts for his students (in the undergrad course ECMP 355) to establish guidelines to their blogging experience.
  • University of Saskatchewan – Alec Couros, Social Media and Open Education (EC&I 831) collects student blogs in this Blog Hub.
  • Brock University – Ed Tech Cohort course taught by Dr. Camille Rutherford with links to student blogs, twitter feed for student networking, and current trends in Educational technology.
  • Students from some courses at Lakehead University create and manage a blog as part of their course work. Here are some samples from participants in EDUC 3239 and EDUC 4000.

Take time to examine educators blog sites, from here in Ontario, and beyond. There is a random listing of some Ontario bloggers found on the SHOWCASE page of this course site.

As you examine blog posts and pages, consider what you like, what styles, templates, formats, text features, image locations, video inclusions, or blog lengths you prefer. These will help you shape the look and feel of your own blog site. For more information about examining factors and features on blog sites, check out these resources:

Blog Review

As you examine blog sites, pay attention to what you see, what you don’t see, how the blog site makes you feel, and how the blog author(s) communicate the content. Use these two quick checklists to help you orient and locate what key features and formats will fit for your blogging basics. You can find additional information on both these sites to further your skills in judging blog sites you see and create – part of your critical digital literacy skill in using, analyzing, and creating.

Checklist – this is a revised version from the Blog Review Checklist written by Liz Strauss

  • What catches your attention? What do you like? How does it ‘feel’?
  • What is the purpose of the blog site – is it explained on the ABOUT page?
  • How does the author make content readable, interesting, or entertaining?
  • In the design of the blog, is it easy to navigate or find items? Do the color choices, images, and font choices help readers/viewers engage with the content?
  • Are blog posts completed consistently or infrequently? Do the posts provide a variety of topics, hypertext connections, links to other sources of information, or interesting elements?
  • Are comments allowed? Are they mediated? Does the blog author respond to comments?
  • Are there technical issues e.g. how fast pages or posts load? Too many video or images that slow down access? Links that don’t work?
  • Is the writing style engaging? Does it feel like a real person is writing to you (as the audience)? Is the written content error free (grammar, spelling, punctuation)?
  • Are tags and categories used to help readers orient and locate information? Are tags and categories recognizable and linked to the blog content and topics?

What are your first impressions when you look at the blog site? This checklist is from Peter Casier, from a series of blog posts that may provide additional information for your blog review experiences. (This work is CC licensed (CC ND NC 3.0).

  • What is the very first feeling you have? Does it make you feel “Eh?!” Or “Mmmmm”? or “Yummy”, or “Beh”? Why?
  • What is the first impression you get? Is it “busy”, “peaceful”, “classy”, “playful”, “flashy”, “classy”, “avant-garde”?
  • Does it look intriguing, is it inviting, does it stir your interest?
  • Are the different parts of the blog clear at first glance? Which parts do you notice immediately?
  • Can you see the main parts of their ‘main blog real estate’ ? – In another post, we analyzes this aspect in more details.
  • Do you immediately understand the main headlines of the blog, the blog posts, the widgets? Do the headlines help you understand what this blog is all about?
  • Can you distinguish the different parts of the blog in a few seconds?
  • At first glance, can you tell what the blog is about? Who writes it, what the purpose is, which organisation is behind it?
  • Can you immediately find some kind of navigation, is it clear how to navigate the blog?
  • What is your first impression on the blog speed: Does it load fast, or not? – Blog speedwill be revisited in-depth in one of the next posts.
  • Can you immediately figure out how to flip through the posts, and browse different pages?
  • At the first glance, does the blog give the impression someone did an effort to make it accessible, to make it look good? Or does it feel like sloppy work?

References and Resources:

Casier, P. (2010, September 20). How to evaluate a blog – Part 3: First impressions. [weblog] Retrieved Sept 3, 2018 from http://www.blogtips.org/how-to-evaluate-a-blog-first-impressions/

Casier, P. (2010, September 14). BlogTips tutorial: How to evaluate a blog. [weblog] Retrieved Sept. 3, 2018 from http://www.blogtips.org/how-to-evaluate-a-blog-introduction/

Strauss, L. (2007, January 3). Classic revisited: The blog review checklist. Retrieved from https://www.successful-blog.com/1/classic-revisited-the-blog-review-checklist/

Strauss, L. (2005, December 3). Checklist for linking to quality blogs. [weblog] Retrieved from https://www.successful-blog.com/1/checklist-for-linking-to-quality-blogs/