Monthly Archives: March 2008

Introduction to Blogging, Part II.

So you want to write a blog post?

Well, the easiest thing to do would be to go to the dashboard, hit “write” near the top.  Then just start writing.  Push the button that says “publish” near the bottom of the write screen when you’re done.

However, being ambitious teachers/students, you probably want to do more than that.  Directly above the box you write in are a whole set of other boxes that resemble the stuff in the tool bar for Microsoft Word.  In fact, they all work the same way as that program.  Highlight the text you want to alter, then click the bold “B” to bold, the italic “I” for italics, and so on and so forth.

The link key is the button with a link of chain above the writing box.  If you highlight text and click it, the program will automatically give you a box to insert a URL into.  When the blog post is published, a reader would be able to click those words and get to that page.  You may want to use this, for example, to reference someone else’s thoughts on another one of our blogs (click on their title to get the right URL) or to reference something else you found out on the WWW at large.

The button labeled code on top of the tool bar is for all of you who know a little HTML so that you can write in bells and whistles you don’t see covered in the buttons.  The one function I find useful is blockquote for when I’m quoting someone elsewhere.  For that, at least on my blog, you have to be in the code screen, so press code.   After that, write “<blockquote>” at the beginning of the text you’re blocking out, then “</blockquote> at the end.

With respect to what to write in a blog post, we had a lot of complaints last year about not showing what a good blog post looks like.  This year, I have samples I can cite.  Therefore, with apologies in case the authors are modest, look at this post, this post or maybe this post out of many fine examples from which I might choose.

When you read these you’ll see they’re all thoughtful,  reflective and most importantly, to at least some extent the authors all discuss how the information they’re learning might end up in their classes.

In a few days, I’ll tackle another big problem last year:  How to post pictures on your blog.


Introduction to Blogging, Part I.

Welcome to the start of the Philadelphia portion of this blog. Between now and our meeting in April, I want to try to lay out at least some guidance so that you can start playing with your class blog before we leave in June. It’s not a necessity for you to be versed in blogging by that time, but if you got the time to experiment it wouldn’t hurt.

First, I want you to know I recognize that some people are scared of technology. The word “blogs” with a circle around it and a line through it on the back of the Red Sox pennant I got last summer was all the indication I needed. So my first advice is just relax. If you experiment with any technological tool with an open mind and a little common sense it can be mastered. That’s probably why your average 5th grader can do PowerPoint better than you can, but you can catch up!

This post is on the central class blog for History 591. Future posts will appear on top of it on the blog home page (which can be reached by clicking the words “Philly Trip” at that top of the page). For this reason, a blog is kind of like a reverse diary where the last posts come first. Therefore, if you don’t follow these instructions right away, you’ll need to scroll down to this post to get started.

To find your blog, click on your name in the blog roll on the right. If you haven’t already accessed the blog on the computer you’re using you’ll have to log in with your name and password where it says “login” in the bottom righthand corner.

Once you’re logged in, you want to access the main dashboard for your blog. It will go automatically there when you log in, or if you’re logged in already click the word “admin” in the bottom righthand corner.

If you want to just start writing, click the word “write” near the top and give it a go. Before that though, you might want to try sprucing your blog up a bit. Try clicking the word “Presentation” on the first line and choose a theme. There are something liek 35 themes avaialble to you right there to make your blog look like more than just a blue and white blob. When you find one you like, click “apply.” You can try as many themes as you like until you’re happy with the way it looks, but one recommendation: If the theme you like has the words “Custom Image Header” near the top when you apply it, that means you can import your own picture into the them. [That’s how I got the Liberty Bell at the top of our class blog.] I’m not sure I can duplicate the steps I took to do that without messing it up for this blog, but if you can get a picture you like on your desktop, it’s really not that hard.

That’s all for now. In a few days, I’ll write a post about writing posts.