Blogging to Enhance Learning Experiences: February 12-25, 2007

Blog programs

Blog programs

by Corinne Brooks -
Number of replies: 110
Can we have this thread just to list the different programs available for writing blogs?

I am particularly interested in any that allow teachers to see student blogs but the blogs may be kept private from other users if necessary as i work with special needs (MLD/autistic) students and sometimes privacy can be an issue.

Maybe people could just link to particular programs and maybe add a short description.


Thanks
In reply to Corinne Brooks

Re: Blog programs

by Heather Ross -
Corinne,

I mainly use two "programs" for blogging. I have WordPress on my server space, but you can use the hosted version at WordPress.com and it's free.

I also use the Performancing plug-in for Firefox. It lets me write my post and then send it to my blog as either a post or a draft.
In reply to Heather Ross

Re: Blog programs

by Terry Wassall -

There are 2 publically available and free blogging systems provided by the Elgg open source project. They both enable individual and group privacy when required. http://elgg.net/ is the Elgg 'Mothership' where anyone can create a free account, set up public or restricted communities, share files and other resources, publish podcasts etc. The emphasis is definitely educational and many users keep their personal blogs there but it is also used by teachers and groups of students. Another interesting feature is that you can choose your language.

An alternative for group work with students is to start a complete Elgg Space of your own. This is another free service. Unlike starting a community at elgg.net this service allows you to start a completely self-contained Elgg of your own with complete control. This is ideal for those that would like their own locally installed elgg but don't have the local infrastructure or technical support. http://elggspaces.com/

Finally I have started an Elgg Space (the Elgg SandBox) to support some Web 2.0 workshops (hands-on on campus) we are running over the next few weeks. The idea is not to 'sell' Elgg particularly, although I think it has got a lot going for it, but rather let colleagues try out a blogging system in a supportive environment and to share ideas and issues that arise from the workhops. They will also be trying out a wiki environment, social bookmarking and other publically available free gizmos. If you want to self-register in the Elgg SandBox and play please feel free. You will find that you can make anything you do there entirely private except from the adminstrator (me!). And you can always delete your experiments.

In reply to Terry Wassall

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
Terry has pointed out some of the real advantages of Elgg. This is certainly worth a look. But it would be excellent if someone could make a few comparative comments about Elgg versus other bloggers such as "Blogger" or "liveJournal'. Does Elgg have superior qualitites?

thanks for your insights here Terry,

Michael...
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blog programs

by Terry Wassall -

I have dipped into LiveJournal, Blogger and Wordpress just out of curiosity but have spent most time grappling with Elgg. You tend to prefer the system you know best and have invested the most blood, sweat and tears on. So I am not the best person to ask for an objective evaluation. I would still be using WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS if I could!

In Elgg I like the flexibility of the acccess control facilities where individual posts, files, podcasts etc can be controlled for access. This flexibility comes at the cost of some complexity of course. I like the ease of setting up community (multiple authored) blogs. We are using a fairly old version which is fairy basic and clunky at Leeds because new ones seem to come out every month or so, interim releases, and we are still piloting. We will install a later version at some stage to take advantage of the growing number of plugins available that enable setting up photo galleries, or tailoring different views for different audiences (i.e. an e-portfolio view), inproved news aggregation within Elgg, the ease of creating and personalising your own themes, and lot more. Later version salso link much more easily with back-office data bases, single-signon systems etc. At the moment we still add new users by hand - hopeless for a Uni-wide roll-out.

One of the problems with many system like Elgg is that they can suffer from mission and funtion creep and get over bloated and full of stuff you don't want (Gates take note). At least with plugins you can choose the functionality you want to make available.

And I like Open Source. I would prefer to see money invested in people rather than licenses. May be I'm old fashioned and unreconstructed. But the basic technology is php and mysql and the whole system is easy (I am told) to set up, modify, run and maintain. Open Source does not mean free of course. It's just how you want to spend your money on software or on technical expertise and support. I am sure I read somewhere in one of these topics about a Blackboard blogging utility that operates above the module level requires an additional license of thousands of dollars - is this annual?! Can students take it with them when they leave? Can they export and import their blog contents? I'm going to suggest that our Alumni can keep their Uni provided blogs for life if the wish.

Sorry. Too many questions!!

 

In reply to Terry Wassall

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
Thank again Terry for all your valuable input. Is using Egg the same as using a Wiki? What might the differences be?
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blog programs

by Terry Wassall -

Hi Michael. Wikis are just pages on the Web that can be opened up to either the public or logged in users to edit and modify as they wish, including creating new pages. There is no notion of an author on the one hand and commentors(?) on the other hand. The nearest thing to commenting is that every wiki page has an associated discussion or 'talk' page where issues can be discussed and thrashed out before changes are made to the 'article'. I am using Mediwiki terminology here, the platform that Wikipedia uses and we are piloting at Leeds.

Wikis can be used in as many ways as imagination can think up. Students can be gven the task of writing a glossary collaboratively, for instance, or write a report but use the 'talk' page for discussion and decision makeing. Students and staff can work collaborativley on producing a sort of mini Wikipedia for a particular course, or publish a tutorial papers so that all tutorial groups benefit. One useful feature of wikis is that every previous version is arvhived and can be rolled back to and compared with other versions.

It just occurs to me that I ma teaching granny to suck eggs here! Sorry.

At its heart Elgg is a blogging platform and all that this entails, personal, potentially private, and very different in my opinion to wikis and what I would use a wiki for.

In reply to Terry Wassall

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
Terry... granny always needs to learn more! That is very well expressed and helps us all to get a clearer sense of the difference between Blogging and Wiki-ing... I have another question about Elgg which I put in another of your entries....

So which is your favourite Wiki provider? Maybe you have already said... but you clearly seem to be equally at home in the Blog and the Wiki....
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blog programs

by Terry Wassall -

I have used PBwiki (http://pbwiki.com/), Wikispaces (http://www.wikispaces.com/), and Jotspot (http://www.jot.com/). These are all hosted off-campus and are free. Wikispaces charges if you want the enhanced version that allows you to keep it private to you and your students if you wish but I understand they are making the full feature version free for K 12 schools (not Unis). The free version of PBwiki can be private with just you and named individuals if you wish. Wikispaces and PBwiki are quite straightforward. Jotspot was recently bought by Google and is closed to new accounts for the moment. I found it harder to use but the Google make over will probaly make it easier.

We are experimenting with Mediawiki at Leeds but this is not a free hosted service so it has to be installed locally. It is open source so the program is free. We are trying this because if is the same as used by Wikipedia so familiar to most people. If we adopt it officially (it can be integrated with Elgg) we will do the additional work required to make it possible to make it selectively private. Or be able to run a 'wiki farm' with as many seperate wikis as needed with soem public and some private.

I would recommend either Wikspaces or PBwiki. I would probably go for Wikispaces if I could get the full feature version free! There is another free hosted service called Seedwiki I think, but not used it.

Give them all ago!!

In reply to Terry Wassall

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
Many thanks for your quick response Terry- Wikispaces sounds the go.... it must be close to midnight in the UK... way past pub closing time!
If I were there I would "shout you" a beer as they say here from my own fridge,
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Heather Ross

Re: Blog programs

by Alec Couros -
I like Performancing as well. However, the link you use here goes to a strange site (at least it does to me). For people who want to directly download Performancing, they can go here.
In reply to Alec Couros

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
Alec has also suggested "Performancing" (a Firefox add on) as a place to write and store one's blog before posting it up.
How does this compare with your previous suggestion Alec.... ??
Thank you
Michael
In reply to Corinne Brooks

Re: Blog programs

by Claude Almansi -
Corinne,
With Blogger.com, there are 3 options in the admin sections as to who can view a blog: Everyone - only authorized people - only the blog's authors. Same with iobloggo.com, mainly in Italian, but now also with an English interface.

Best

Claude
In reply to Corinne Brooks

Re: Blog programs

by Barbara Dieu -

Aaron Campbell has written a good comparative study of different weblogging platforms (for language teaching). Together with R. Ammann, we have also reviewed Elgg at its early stages.

There is also a list that participants of a workshop I gave on weblogging in 2005 compiled in a wiki.

As I mentioned in other posts here, I am using a personal install of Wordpress (which also sports a MU version)  while my students are on wordpress.com (free). I am very happy with it.

In reply to Barbara Dieu

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
Barbara has offered a great resource list here..... perhaps we should create a comprehenisive, annotated resource list based on all the contributions at this seminar....???
Michael
In reply to Corinne Brooks

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Rees -

As a long standing Wordpress (WP) user myself I would like to support Derek Chirnside's "Use Wordpress!!" post in the "Public v Private" thread. As he points out the WP blogging engine supports blog entries/static pages, public/shared/private access for reading and commenting, spam protection for comments, plugins and excellent administration options.

However, most blogging engines including WP have very mediocre text/HTML editing features. The most productive addon for WP for me in recent months has to be the free Windows Live Writer program from Microsoft. This is a desktop application that gives Word-like editing for WP and a range of other blogging engines. In addition it makes adding and manipulating images and other media files in your blog entries very simple. I use this method exclusively and highly recommend Windows Live Writer for all bloggers.

In reply to Michael Rees

Re: Blog programs

by Alec Couros -
Thanks for the link, Michael. As an alternative, I really like the newer service, WriteToMyBlog. It's web-based and works really well. And, it will work on the Mac or Linux as well. :-)
In reply to Alec Couros

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
Alec has suggested a web-based word processor for a place to write and save all one's entries before posting them up to one's blog. This sounds really, really good. Thank you Alec for this... and a further question: would posting up to WriteToMyBlog allow you to includel images, videos etc etc.... students are becoming increasingly adventurous in what they actually put up there... can WriteToMyBlog handle all these formats?

Take note Tamara and Timb and other students... how useful Alec's suggestion could be.....

Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blog programs

by Emma Duke-Williams -
Yes, WritetoMyblog does let you embed media files, though I'm not sure where you have to host them.

Things like GoogleDocs also let you post direct to a blog.

One tool that your students might like to have a look at - I've not used it for a while  (it does integrate with LiveJournal) is wBloggar. It's only PC compatible as far as I can remember, but it saves posts locally on your PC - as well as uploading them to the blog. It could be particularly useful for students if they have dial up at home, so can't afford to be connected for "thinking & writing" time.

http://www.wbloggar.com/

In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: Blog programs

by Alec Couros -
With WriteToMyBlog, there is support for both Flickr and Youtube, obviously both can be used to host media files. Of course, if you have them hosted anywhere else, you can embed those files as well.
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blog programs

by Terry Wassall -

Writely (now google docs) is a web based wordprocessor for collaborative document writing. You can also post from a document to multipl blogs if you wish. I have never used it in this way so don't know how well it works with graphics for instance. Someone told me you can specify the access level when posting. Another report said it posts as private by default and you must visit the blog to set the access you want. Maybe someone in this seminar may have tried it.

Would it be worth having a wiki section with requests for information and experience on stuff like this when it arises? Some one might volunteer to give it a go and report back!

In reply to Alec Couros

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Rees -
Alec points us to WriteToMyBlog which uses the same TinyMCE web-based editor as WordPress 2.1 and other Web 2.0 sites. TinyMCE is a pretty good JavaScript editor but suffers when inserting images and videos. Basically you have to upload your images to the web at sites such as Flickr, YouTube et al and then point to them from TinyMCE. It is not a bad compromise is genuinely cross-platform. However, desktop tools like Windows Live Writer are much more responsive and can work with your local files, uploading automatically to your blog as required.
In reply to Michael Rees

Re: Blog programs

by Christie Mason -
Ive also been using InnovaStudio instead of FckEditor for CMS (Content, not Course, Management Systems) and Blog applications.  CMS and blog applications are just a database.  So far it seems that users who are not web savvy understand how to use Innova with less support/training than FckEditor, but that may be because I set up Innova to use a site's CSS in addition to the embedded font setting, elementary header tags you see in a text editor like the one being used here. 

Down the road, I can see a problem with text editors that embed format settings into the content, especially, font, font-size, text colors and background colors.  It doesn't look like anyone here gets crazy with that but I've usually experienced at least one user in every implementation that goes a little Crazy.

Christie Mason
In reply to Christie Mason

Re: Blog programs

by Emma Duke-Williams -
Yes, I know what you mean about people getting a little over enthusiastic about formatting!

I wonder if they also tend to (in my opinon) over format emails!

I wonder if they consider my plain text emails / minimally formatted blog/discussion board postings to be a sign that I'm boring and/or can't work out how to format things...
In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: Blog programs

by Christie Mason -
As one who is still trying to get my settings to this forum changed to plain text, I can say that I would not consider you boring, I would consider you polite.

I have read endless discussions amongst web designers about when to send HTML formatted emails and when not to, especially for newsletters.  The only concensus seems to be that if adding formatting does not any value, any additional meaning, to your message, then it is best to use plain text.

HTML formatted email makes people, and IT functions, nervous; there is just no way to tell what else may be lurking in that code.  There are BAD PEOPLE out there who send BAD THINGS in HTML formatted emails.

Christie Mason
In reply to Christie Mason

Re: Blog programs

by Claude Almansi -
I fully agree with you, Christie. A couple of times, when I unsubscribed from newsletters because they went HTML-only, I got a feedback request. And when I wrote that HTML was the reason, they started offering the choice.
BTW, if you find how to change the formating on this forum to plain text, other than toggling to source, could you let me know, please?
Claude
In reply to Claude Almansi

Re: Blog programs

by Emma Duke-Williams -
Are you talking about the email that you get from here, or writing in this box that I'm writing in right now?

For the emails, I *think* that I'm now getting them in plain text. I had to go to my profile & edit it so that emails are in plain text. The drawback with that is that it won't let you escape from that page without adding something about you in the profile field.

The reason I only think that I am, is that I get the announcements from here in my Gmail a/c - and I think it's Gmail that automatically puts a URL as a link, rather than the message arriving with a hyperlink embedded.

This is in bold & red, just to test to see if it's formatted in my email!

Emma
In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

plain text option for forum posts

by Sylvia Currie -
My response to the issue of html versus plain text is a little delayed! Emma answered it, but I'll post some steps here in case more detail is needed. I'll also include this in the "tips" section of the next MicroSCoPE newsletter.

You can change the setting in your profile. Here's how:
  • Click on your name anywhere in SCoPE to get to your profile.
  • Select the "edit profile" tab
  • Go to the pull down menu labeled "Email format:"
  • Choose plain text (HTML is the default)
  • Scroll down to click the "update profile" button

In reply to Michael Rees

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
HI Michael- do you know of any Mac programs that have the same capability as Windows Live Writer-- you are probably the wrong person to ask... I use MacJournal on the Mac... but it has the same limitation as ToMyBlog.... it won't load pictures.....
which are at least 80% of what students want to do.....
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Rees

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
HI Michael- do you know of any Mac programs that have the same capability as Windows Live Writer-- you are probably the wrong person to ask... I use MacJournal on the Mac... but it has the same limitation as ToMyBlog.... it won't load pictures.....
which are at least 80% of what students want to do.....
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blog programs

by Kelly Christopherson -
Michael,

I'm also interested in a Mac blogger. I'll let you know if I find anything. I haven't run acrosss anything but I'll ask around.

Kelly
In reply to Kelly Christopherson

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
Kelly... as I think I might have said: I use MacJournal which is good - uploads direct to some Bloggers- but not the images.... let me know if you come across anything else for mac..... there is ECTO which I have downloaded but have not had a close look at yet....
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Rees

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
HI Michael- do you know of any Mac programs that have the same capability as Windows Live Writer-- you are probably the wrong person to ask... I use MacJournal on the Mac... but it has the same limitation as ToMyBlog.... it won't load pictures.....
which are at least 80% of what students want to do.....
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Rees

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
HI Michael- do you know of any Mac programs that have the same capability as Windows Live Writer-- you are probably the wrong person to ask... I use MacJournal on the Mac... but it has the same limitation as ToMyBlog.... it won't load pictures.....
which are at least 80% of what students want to do.....
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Rees

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
HI Michael- do you know of any Mac programs that have the same capability as Windows Live Writer-- you are probably the wrong person to ask... I use MacJournal on the Mac... but it has the same limitation as ToMyBlog.... it won't load pictures.....
which are at least 80% of what students want to do.....
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Rees

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
HI Michael- do you know of any Mac programs that have the same capability as Windows Live Writer-- you are probably the wrong person to ask... I use MacJournal on the Mac... but it has the same limitation as ToMyBlog.... it won't load pictures.....
which are at least 80% of what students want to do.....
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Rees

Re: Blog programs

by Emma Duke-Williams -
If you don't mind experimenting with Browsers, then Flock is an excellent tool. It allows you to blog from your browser, and is compatible with quite a few different blog tools, including Elgg.
From Corinne's original point of view, though, it wouldn't be so useful, as it sends posts (to Elgg at least) as a "public" post. You'd then have to go back & edit the permissions.

I've used Blogger (old version), WordPress & Elgg. My current method is to write in WordPress & import the posts to Elgg. In terms of flexibility of who can see your posts, I'd have thought that Elgg has the greatest flexibility.

I'd have thought that the ideal for Corrinne's students would be to use Elgg, but, for her to set up each student account & to have a group (not a community)  in it called "Corrinne" - or whatever they call you. The best option would be if you can set the posting default from "Logged In users" to " Corrinne". I don't know if that's do-able, but it might be!

For a group with students with Learning Difficulties, I'd also look to see if you can easily post images - do many of your students use anything like Writing With Symbols? It would be useful if they could do a screen dump & then drop it into the post. (Though that would still require some technical skills)

Emma
In reply to Michael Rees

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
Sounds really good Michael... but probably does not work with Macs. Correct?
Michael
In reply to Michael Rees

Re: Blog programs

by Kelly Christopherson -
I would like to say that Flock is a great browser that allows you to aggregate and browse within the browser. I use it for blogging and, with it on my laptop, it allows me to access blogs I'm reading without another program. Only problem, it is limited to my computers that are synced.

I've tried Opera but it just didn't do the job I wanted. With Firefox's different plugins, it is a great browser. I use Safari a bit but it isn't quite as versitile as I would like.

As for programs themselves, I use Edublogs (WordPress), Elgg, Bloglines and blogger. I usually write in one and just transfer although I've started to limit myself to Edublogs and Elgg.

I've also looked at desktoptwo which is an online desktop which has all the different tools that one  needs  for working.
In reply to Kelly Christopherson

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
Hi Kelly- can you clarify whether Elgg works like a Blogger or like a Wiki... I use Safari also and while it doesn't have quite the same functionality as Firefox it does if you add in SAFT: http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/internet_utilities/saft.html. I must admit Firefox crawls on my machine (Macbook Pro).... I am just downloading Flock and will give you a report on what I think.... do you use it for day to day Browsing or just for Blogging?
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blog programs

by Kelly Christopherson -
Michael,
It works more like a webspace! You can blog, add your own widgets to the dashboard, add friends and other things. I am slowly working with it to find out how to do things.
As for Safari, I will give the download a try. Firefox, with its plugins, moves even more slowly. I do use Flock, I like it as a browzer and it is my main browser. I just like the way it works. I have tried a number of blogging tools like Writetomyblog and the Firefox plugin Performancing. Although they do work well, I still like the blog option in Flock and I like the way that Flock works with so many of the web2.0 apps. My MacBook finds Flock to be very compatible and allows it to run smooth and fairly fast ;)
In reply to Kelly Christopherson

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
Kelly is introducing us to a very interesting new browser with strong web 2 combatibility- he is using it on the Mac.... it would be good to get other responses to the versatility of Flock for our context.

Cheers and thank you Kelly :-D
In reply to Corinne Brooks

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
Corinne has created a perfect quiet place for discussing a key issue of this conference. Thank you Corinne.

LiveJournal, the blogging tool I use, is perfect for creating privacy. Students can elect to make their own blogs completely private or can enrol ONLY the teacher as a friend (then only the teacher can see his/her blog) or can enrol a few select friends to be part of her group.

In actual practice I find that most students don't bother about this at all ... or find setting it up a complication. Within our university, with relatively small groups of students (lectures 40-80; tutorials 15-25), I believe students feel relatively safe and are happy to open their blogs to all fellow students.....

Michael

Corrine- for your interest I have attached an image of the LiveJournal Help page which discusses this issue. The URL is at the top of the page.


In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blog programs

by Emma Duke-Williams -
Michael said:
LiveJournal, the blogging tool I use, is perfect for creating privacy. Students can elect to make their own blogs completely private or can enrol ONLY the teacher as a friend (then only the teacher can see his/her blog) or can enrol a few select friends to be part of her group.

When I got students to use Blogger (before the new version), they could, as far as I can remember, set posts to be private (which wasn't much use!), to be public, or just to members of the blog. Which is more or less the sort of options you've mentioned. Though they generally made everything public, they said that they didn't like it. It was the levels of access that was one of the reasons I moved from Blogger to Elgg. With that, they can, in theory, have any number of groups - so, they could have posts that just I can see, posts that I *can't* see (a point of debate with some members of staff...), posts that just their project group can see etc. The problem is that you can't post to more than one group, so, if you have a particular post that you want to go to more than one group, you either have to post it twice, or to create a new group of the other two groups.

In practice, though, I have found that students tend just to post to their group, or to the world in general. None of the granularity that we'd hoped for.
In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
A quick question on this Emma- does Elgg then work like a Blogging program or like a Wiki? If that question makes any sense?
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blog programs

by Silvana Carnicero -

I have never used Live Journal but I like the way you suggest of restricting access. I will try it this year since last year I even had problemsof impolite comments from classmates.

 

Silvana

In reply to Silvana Carnicero

Re: Blog programs

by Gladys Baya -
Hi Silvana!
An easy way to solve that problem with Blogger would be to set comments to "moderated", so that you have to read them and approve them before they get published. If several teachers share the blog with their classes, you can make them all blog administrators, and then they all share the task.

LiveJournal is really nice, but this would save you from letting the other blog die (that is, if you had built it to last more than a school year).

My 2 cents,

Gladys
In reply to Silvana Carnicero

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
These problems are always potentially there Silvana. This year, in my guidelines for students I tried to address this by including the following:

"While you are encouraged to write informally you are also required to use appropriate language. What does this mean? It means that you treat your LiveJournal space as a professional space, but one where you can also let your hair down as necessary. So redundant or unnecessary violence, gratuitous pornographic references or offensive language are not permitted in your LiveJournal space for this unit. This is not meant to restrict your creativity- as you know some legitimate creativity uses all or some of these elements. If you have any doubts about including anything please discuss it with the lecturer or the tutor before uploading. "


If you want to see this in the context of the whole document I have attached it.
Cheers
Michael
:-)
In reply to Silvana Carnicero

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
These problems are always potentially there Silvana. This year, in my guidelines for students I tried to address this by including the following:

"While you are encouraged to write informally you are also required to use appropriate language. What does this mean? It means that you treat your LiveJournal space as a professional space, but one where you can also let your hair down as necessary. So redundant or unnecessary violence, gratuitous pornographic references or offensive language are not permitted in your LiveJournal space for this unit. This is not meant to restrict your creativity- as you know some legitimate creativity uses all or some of these elements. If you have any doubts about including anything please discuss it with the lecturer or the tutor before uploading. "


If you want to see this in the context of the whole document I have attached it.
Cheers
Michael
:-)
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blog programs

by Corinne Brooks -
THanks - I will be looking at LiveJournal along with several other programs as time allows. Have already been to Vox and setup my first blog. (THen from another forum was sent into a 3d worlds program and got distracted from Vox).

In reply to a few other posts - my students don't use writing with symbols - but occasionally might want to scan pieces of work into their blog. Whatever system I end up using needs to be quite easily setup by myself or a teaching assistant, easy for the students to access and use, and have the privacy options. Most of my students work well on a PC but there are the odd ones that can take a whole lesson just to open a word doc.. Obviously these students would have help - shortcuts to their blogs etc - but once there they need to just type with no complicated interface etc..

Looks like I have lots to research from everyone's links before I settle on what I could use. Is this forum still going to be visible in the Summer holidays?
In reply to Corinne Brooks

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
Corrine- thank you for your thoughts and plans. I found LiveJournal easy for the students to use once they got past the first week or so.... and then the beauty is that you can second and third year students to help the younger ones.... You have a whole pool of resource-rich students to draw on.....
I think the forum should be visible... but will ask Sylvia Currie this one....
Cheers
Michael
^-)
In reply to Corinne Brooks

Re: Blog programs

by Sylvia Currie -
Corinne, I missed your question in my weekend catch up!: Is this forum still going to be visible in the Summer holidays?

Yes, SCoPE seminars remain available to the public. We keep the scheduled seminars area organized by upcoming, current, and past discussion, so by summer you'll need to scroll down to the past seminars -- organized chronologically. Also, if you're looking for a handy list to help with your research, I've been pulling the resources out into our Wiki. I still have some annotating to do, but the main links are there.
In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
Sylvia has produced a beautiful shiny tool for our future reference in this Wiki extension to our animated discussion.... do we get a sense that we are beginning to wind down... I am not sure?????
Please everyone post your heartfelt questions now and see if you can get the answers you need.
I must confess I have been finding this a wonderfully resourceful place to be in the last 10 days or so.... any question, no matter how seemingly insignificant is immediately answered by a WORLD panel of blogging experts! wow!.... done't waste the last few precious days of this event!
Cheers
Michael ^-) ^-) ^-) ^-) ^-) ^-) ^-) ^-) ^-) ^-) ^-) ^-) ^-) ^-) ^-)
In reply to Corinne Brooks

Re: Blog programs

by Jeffrey Keefer -

Wow, lots of great suggestions here!

I have used a variety of blogging tools over the years, including a number of the free ones, and have decided to continue working with Movable Type for my own personal blog, Silence and Voice.

Many people here seem to be proponents of the open source movement, yet I have never been the biggest fan of these free services. I think they are wonderful to experiement with and to use to promote new experiences, however I have gotten burned in the past from free software where I have gotten what I paid for and could not expect or demand anything else. If there is a problem with open source software or a bug  or some other problem, I cannot have any expectations that they will be addressed or fixed. If I am going to invest a great deal of time and effort with posts and the like, I want to make sure they are on a server where I can expect them to be backed up and otherwise protected, as well as created using software which has service contracts. I like to have control over my sites, and as I am not technical enough to be able to troubleshoot and do this all myself, I want to use a product that I know will be used for the foreseeable future.

While I considered using WordPress (free) rather than Movable Type (which does have an inexpensive educational licence that I paid for myself), I recognized that I was still personally unable to install and get either of them running on my own, so I would still have to pay somebody (a developer or support person) to professionally do it for me. I think it is wonderful to have options, as they offer something for various needs and comfort levels,

In reply to Jeffrey Keefer

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
I think Jeffrey has an important point here that needs listening to. It is all well and good to be philosophically alligned to Open Source, but if one is not a "Techo" then one does need as much support and security as one can get. Now a question: LiveJournal is free AND very supportive, but if one wants some of their "extra" facilities- more images, more styles etc... one has to pay for this (around $20/year from memory).... I do pay this amount and have found the LiveJournal Help system incredibly good...... so is this OpenSource or not??? and if so, is it an example of how OpenSource can and does provide much help..... anyone like to clarify this?
Michael
In reply to Corinne Brooks

Re: Blog programs

by Kelly Christopherson -
Corrine,

I use David Warlick's Blogmeister program for blogging. It gives me a set of control functions that allow our blogs to be viewed in the larger world but I oversee all posts and comments - which can be a bit of a hassle but has saved me a bit of grief as I do not allow inappropriate posts or comments. I can also comment on the posts and give suggestions before they are posted. It works very well for us.

I personally have tried a number of programs:
    blogger, elgg, bloglines, edublogs (which I use regularly), freewebs and a .mac blog.

I don't make recommendations as I have had a good experience with them all.
In reply to Kelly Christopherson

Re: Blog programs

by Gladys Baya -
Somehow I can't follow some posts here... Apologies if these questions are too basic, or if they should be posted separately... I can't even think of where it's best to post this message!  dead Maybe I just need a weekend away from the computer?  wink

So these are my doubts:
  1. Is Blogmeister a software I can use with any blog host? I was under the impression that it was a blog host in itself!
  2. The new Blogger allows you to choose your level of privacy (just myself, friends - ie those you've invited to your blog and public) for each post (the old Blogger limited this option to each blog as a whole). It also allows you to choose whether you want to allow comments to each post, and to moderate all comments before publication. Finally, it allows you to choose which blogs you want to show in your profile. In what ways do LiveJournal or Elgg outdo this?
  3. As I understand it, edublogs is part of Wordpress... If so, posting with them is really easy, with buttons to format your text as you like and even embed all kinds of multimedia (and you can switch to HTML if you know how to work with it!). You can save your posts as drafts or publish them...What would be the advantages to working with a web-based text editor such as Google docs to draft posts?
  4. One last question: can you write your posts offline and then send them to the blog with wBloggar (mentioned by Emma)? Is this freeware? Most of my students blog from their home PCs, with slow dial-up connections...
Gladys
My personal / professional blog
One of my class blogs (my favourite so far!)
In reply to Gladys Baya

Re: Blog programs

by Kelly Christopherson -
Gladys - Blogmeister is a blog host in itself. I use it instead of the others as it gives me more control over the classes I teach. I can view things as a teacher and work with kids editting their posts before they are posted. I don't know about the new blogger as I haven't tried it with a class. I use edublogs myself and you could either write the information in a processing app and then post or write it on the site. If your students have dial-up, have them use the processing app no matter which one you choose. They just have to cut and paste. Hope this helps!
In reply to Gladys Baya

Re: Blog programs

by Emma Duke-Williams -
The new Blogger allows you to choose your level of privacy (just myself, friends - ie those you've invited to your blog and public) for each post (the old Blogger limited this option to each blog as a whole). It also allows you to choose whether you want to allow comments to each post, and to moderate all comments before publication. Finally, it allows you to choose which blogs you want to show in your profile. In what ways do LiveJournal or Elgg outdo this?

I can't comment for LiveJournal, but for Elgg, you have greater flexibility than myself/ friends for each post. You get to set up a "Network" - and you can have within that as many groups as you want - so, you might have "family", "English Class", "Friends", "Maths Class" - and so on. For each post, you have the option of "Private" (i.e. just you), "public" (i.e. anyone at all), "Logged in" (people who are logged in" - and then any of the groups that you've created. The group can have just one other person in, or as many as you want. The only thing that can't do is to have someone in your list who's not got an account on the same Elgg set up as you. So, if you have a University Hosted version of Elgg, which requires users to have a University Email address, then you can't have "family" (unless they happen to go to the same university!). If you can have people registering from anywhere & not having to be members of the university, then you can have anyone.

Comments aren't quite so flexible at the moment. At the moment you can set it so that either anyone (not recommended) or logged in users can comment. As the blog owner, you can delete the comments that others have made.

I'm not sure about the showing other blogs in your profile, as you'd generally only have one in Elgg, but, what you can do (and I do) is to add RSS feeds from either blogs your interested in (to use as an aggregator), or RSS feeds from blogs that you have rights over, so that you can embed those posts in your blog as if they were written there. I've not been able to do that in a WordPress blog.

One last question: can you write your posts offline and then send them to the blog with wBloggar (mentioned by Emma)? Is this freeware? Most of my students blog from their home PCs, with slow dial-up connections...

wBloggar is definitely free (or it was the last time I downloaded it). I'm not sure about posting to Blogmeister, as it's not something I've used before, but it works with an awful lot of blog tools! I've stopped using it at present, as I've got good connections to my blogs, but I have to say I got quite dependant on it when I had a Blogger (old style) blog, as it was quite often off line when I wanted to post. I'd write great long posts & then blogger would crash. Grrrr..

Emma
In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: Blog programs

by Terry Wassall -

Hi Emma. I'm reduced to lurking as I have a bad dose of flu. There's a lot of it going around.

Comments aren't quite so flexible at the moment. At the moment you can set it so that either anyone (not recommended) or logged in users can comment. As the blog owner, you can delete the comments that others have made.

In practice commenting in Elgg is restriced to those that can read the post in the first place. If viewing a post is restricted to a particular group then only that group can comment. This is the case regardless of whether the overall commenting access is set to public or logged on only.

One nice thing about Elgg (other systems may have this for all I know) is that it has a built in RSS agregator. Your blog has a 'my resources' tab where you can subscribe to news feeds and other blogs including any others of your own. You can select from the feeds you subscribe to import into your Elgg blog. Therefore your posts to your other blogs can also automatically appear as posts in your Elgg blog but with a prefixed url to the originating blog. These imported posts are delinked from the original blog so you can prune your Elgg blog if you wish to remove imported posts you don't want.

I'm going to lie dowm now.

In reply to Terry Wassall

Re: Blog programs

by Emma Duke-Williams -
From Re: Blog programs by terrywassall on Monday 19 February 2007 15:12:00:
In practice commenting in Elgg is restriced to those that can read the post in the first place. If viewing a post is restricted to a particular group then only that group can comment. This is the case regardless of whether the overall commenting access is set to public or logged on only

Ah, yes, I forgot that - clearly only people who can see the post can comment! What I was thinking about is that it doesn't have as many options as Blogger seems to, nor, for that matter, as WordPress does. You've explained rather better than I did I think about importing RSS feeds - I do most of my posting on my WordPress blog, which lets me switch commenting on/off for particular posts, so compared to that, (and to blogger), Elgg is a little more limited. Though, as you point out, far more control over who can see the post in the first place.

I've not found too many other blog systems that let you import RSS feeds in the same way. I've found it very useful, the main drawback being that I put my WordPress posts into categories & they don't get imported. Though I don't like them, I tried tagging posts in WP, to see if the tags got imported to Elgg, but they didn't seem to. Oh well. Can't have everything!

Hope that you're feeling better soon, clearly this is one of the advantages of online conferencing ... a: We won't get your flu & b: you can post in your pyjamas if you want & we won't know :)
In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
Hi Emma/ Terry

I think LiveJournal has the same kind of public/private options that Elgg seems to have and I think that LiveJournal's automatic friends' list is what you might be referring to as RSS feeds....
But what I like about Elgg - from Terry's example- is the connection with educators from around the world.

Sorry to hear that you were sick Terry... despite that you have been keeping up a fantastic conversation to all and sundry!
Michael :-)
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blog programs

by Emma Duke-Williams -
Hi Michael
I've just had a bit of a play with Live Journal - from the messages you'd sent earlier, I'd not realised that you can have groups of friends - so, like Elgg, you can have that extra granularity of who can see which post. I thought that it was "private" / "friends" / "public" - however, I now see that you can have differing groups of friends.

I found it rather fiddly to sign up - just because they had one of those captcha things - and I couldn't read all the letters the first time.

One of the advantages of using Live Journal / Blogger is clearly that you can have friends who are outside the University system - whereas if you have Elgg installed locally, the University could (and probably does) choose to have registration limited to internal students.
The pros of hosting it yourself though are clearly that you have some control over the backing up - and you have someone (the "network fellow") to chase if it goes down during a teaching session / just before deadlines etc. There's also the advertising. I noticed that the default account offered to me (by Live Journal)  was the ad-supported one - I had to switch to the basic one. I also see that you can create communities - again, something that Live Journal & Elgg share, though I've not found it (yet) in (the new) Blogger. I've just found the "Academic Technology" community, so I'll join that. (Hmm.... not very active, last post September, previous post April 2005 & October 2004). Another (slight) difference is that the community I looked at only had a community blog. In Elgg, you have the option between showing it as a blog, or as a forum. The forum option is quite new - I'll be interested to see if it makes people more likely to add comments to other posts. I'll have to wait & see.

Elgg - yes it can have fantastic connections to other Educational Technologists - but that's only if you decide to use Elgg.net to put your blogs. If you create your own space at Elggspaces or install it yourself, then you don't have that option - but you have more control in other ways - so it's "swings and roundabouts".

I started out using Blogger, then moved to having my blog as a WordPress blog, and more recently moved the students to Elgg, I don't think that I'd go back to Blogger, despite the fact that the number of options that Elgg has are pretty daunting. (I also looked at UniBlogs for the students)

RSS - Automated Friend's list.
I'm not quite sure what you mean, are you talking about the fact that you can see what your friends are saying on their blogs?
Basically, RSS allows you to see when blogs or similar types of sites have been updated. In Elgg, there are a number of ways of using it; but none *automatically* set up feeds from friends.
1: To see friends recent posts - you click on the "Friends blog" - and you'll see a composite blog made up of posts from all your friends.

2: To see feeds from particular blogs - add the feed (inside or outside Elgg) to "Your Resources" - and then you can either add them to a page as a "Widget", or, if you have rights to that particular blog (e.g. you also own it), then you can embed it directly into your blog, as if it's your own. I've had a look at LiveJournal, and I *think* that's the option you have via a "Syndicated" feed - but as you have to have a paid a/c to see it, I've not tried that.

In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
Emma has provided a fabulously detailed response to questions about the differences between Elgg and LiveJournal and has clarified the difference between an automatically updating Friends' page and an RSS syndicated feed.
Thank you so much for your generosity on this one Emma... I must now go and try the syndicated feed option in LiveJournal- which I have not tried, even though I DO have a paid account.
And yes your comment about Friends "outside the university system" is a critical issue for me... I am just beginning to create connections between groups of students at our uni and in Hong Kong.... this would not be possible without Livejournal..
Cheers
Michael
:-D :-D :-D :-D :-D
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blog programs

by Emma Duke-Williams -
I have been thinking about this "outside the University" - and I think that it is important.

Many UK universities have started to install Blogging systems for their students (Warwick, Brighton, Newport etc). Most seem to restrict registration (naturally) to their students, while still allowing outside readers. If we are expecting students to use blogs as part of a unit, then clearly we have to have some way of ensuring that the blog doesn't vanish part way through or move to a model that requires students to pay, inundates them with (possibly inappropriate) adverts or whatever. I think most of us assume that sites like Elgg.net, Blogspot, MySpace etc., won't just vanish into thin air, but we've no actual control.

In terms of students, I think that the 1 blog per student model is better than 1 blog per unit(module/course - whatever you call them!) Centrally hosted blogs are outside the VLE environment, so the world can see the blogs. However, students aren't able to have posts that are for groups that include external & internal users.

From the discussions we've had here, I'm just about to go and put in a request to Elgg, that they include the ability for a blog owner to invite "Commenters" - they'd be able to be added to groups, could comment on a blog, but wouldn't have their own blog. I think that would be a way to ensure that the hosting server isn't providing space for people who aren't students, but would allow external users to be able to comment.

I know that my students have found it very rewarding in the Elgg.net set up to have experienced eTechnologists commenting on their blogs.
In reply to Gladys Baya

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
Gladys has raised several important issues here. I want to tackle just one of them: "One last question: can you write your posts offline and then send them to the blog..."
This is an issue I have been thinking about recently for two reasons:
1) I find many students, especially those new to blogging, who lose posts in the process of sending them off to LiveJournal....
2) When I look back at the last three years of my own Blogs and those of my students I become concerned that... maybe the blogging host will go out of action... or maybe that huge hard disk somewhere in the sky... .which is holding some billions of blogs and images will just crash.....

So with those two issues I have been recommending to students -and practicing this myself- that they do indeed explore programs that allow them to write off-line and then up-load. There are quite a few of these for all platforms. On the mac Mac.Journal lets you keep your journals tidily categorized and then upload to a number of different Blogging clients including Blogger and LiveJournal.
Does anyone else do this as a matter of good practice? What Blogging Clients does anyone recommend (for either PC or Mac)????
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blog programs

by Tamara Gardner -
From a student:

Not hugely technological, most of my work gets written into a word doc, where I am able to spell check and save it onto my USB (I have fallen in love with my usb. I have folders on it for just about everything and it comes with me everywhere I go.) then I can copy and paste it when I'm done.

Saving it there I know I have a copy of the work that I will always have, and I know where I can find it if I come back looking for it.

However, generally when I use the computers at uni or a computer that is not my own, I just write my post. However, there have been a few posts that I have lost because of this...

Tamara
In reply to Tamara Gardner

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
Thanks for this reminder Tamara- I must reinforce the need to write into a desktop program before uploading to LiveJournal (Blogger)

All suggestions as to what the best programs for this (for PC and MAC) are welcome.....

Michael :-)
In reply to Kelly Christopherson

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
Kelly- Blogmeister looks a great, classroom specific Blogging tool.... how does it work for you? Do you think it gives individual students the same kind of rich creative freedom that LiveJournal might? I would be interested to hear some more about this. The interface looks a little prescriptive. But of course that is perhaps what one needs in some circumstances.
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blog programs

by Kelly Christopherson -
I like the whole set up with Blogmeister because it is limited. The students blogs are open to others within the "walled garden" but I get to moderate all blogs, both the posts and the comments. For the age of students I work with, middle years, I find this to be a great format. Now, I haven't looked at LiveJournal but I know that wordpress has a student blog service that I have been looking into as the students move from "walled garden" to more open spaces. I like the way things are still very much in my hands but allow more exposure. I'll take a look at LiveJournal and give you my feedback. 
In reply to Corinne Brooks

Re: Blog programs

by Mark Berthelemy -
Hi Corinne,

Two systems that haven't been mentioned yet:

The first is Learnerblogs.org or edublogs.org. This is a free service, based on the Wordpress Multi-user application. It's dead easy to sign up for a blog, and you can keep things as private as you wish. Learnerblogs is designed for learners, and edublogs designed for educators. (There's another debate - which one should we be in???)

The other system is an application called b2evolution. This is another open-source application. It's very easy to install if you've installed any other web application. I've used it for a few years now.

B2evolution is a true multi-user/multi-blog environment. People can be put into different groups. Groups & individuals can have different permissions in different blogs. There is a workflow system built in to allow some sort of editorial/moderator control of posts (I've not used this yet though).

I would recommend it for anyone wanting to set up a blogging service within an organisation. For a single user, Wordpress is probably the easiest to go with, but for flexibility I can't b2evolution.

Cheers,

Mark
In reply to Mark Berthelemy

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
Mark introduces what looks like a fablous Blogging tool incorporating a number of the add-on elements that most of us are drawn to (photos/ videos etc)... but what is "advanced skinning" Mark?
Overall would you think b2 would work well in a university environment?
Do you have any good examples of b2 blogs you could point us to?
Cheers... and thank you
Michael
In reply to Corinne Brooks

Re: Blog programs

by Richard Olsen -
I've set up Wordpress MU at my school which allows us to have totally private blogs. (Yes, the other thread). 

  • It is free
  • Has extensive range of themes
  • Can be run publically/privately
  • Is customisable
  • Is a bit tricky to set up, needs an apache server but straight forward
  • Allows up to 32,000 users (I think) with an  easy to manage administration interface
  • Has a large user communiy (mu.wordpress.org/forums)
  • Has a lots of plugins to allow a wonderful range of add ons and integration with other web services ( google wordpress plugins)

Richard
In reply to Richard Olsen

Re: Blog programs

by E.A. Draffan -

I have been lurking but hope to catch up soon with all the threads.  I am interested in learning which you all feel is the best blog program for accessibility when working with disabled students? 

Many thanks from sunny southern England at the moment! smile

Best wishes E.A.

In reply to E.A. Draffan

Re: Blog programs

by Emma Duke-Williams -
That's something I'd also be interested in - also making it specific where applicable - e.g. is one platform particularly good for visually impaired users? Is another particularly good if you're dyslexic. 
In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
Good questions Emma? Do we have any experts in this area of accessibility?
Michael V-.
In reply to E.A. Draffan

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
This is a very interesting question: which Blog program is best for disabled or disadvantaged students?
I may have mentioned this already, but I used LiveJournal with a group of homeless and disadvantaged students.... accessibility was not a major issue- only the lack of available computers.... so what kind of accessibility issues do you have in mind E.A.?
You can read a couple of the blogs from these students at
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/streetstories/stories/2007/1831012.htm

Michael
In reply to Richard Olsen

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
Thanks Richard- I have noticed that WordPress lists Harvard and Edublogs as their clients... are they using WordPress as the engine behind their propietorial label?
Can you see WordPress as having any strong advantages over something like LiveJournal?
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blog programs

by Tamara Gardner -
One of the things that IS really good about LiveJournal is its simplicity.

Perhaps because it is solely a journal it is simple to make posts.

All you have to do is make an account, give your page a name, and then choose the option "post to my journal".

There's also quite a few layout options, and within those you can either just choose one and have it the way that it is, or you can choose one and play around with it.

Also for those who are unfamilar with HTML there is a rich text formatting bar. While for users who are more advanced with internet jargon they can pretty much write up the whole layout of their journal.

Just a smaller detail that all has to do with people's mindsets...

lol I dont blog I journal. I guess I'm a bit more of a conservative too (like some of those who you know that think that blogging is just some fad or thing that the teenagers do like Myspace), and when I first heard about blogging... just the word "blog" turned me off... Ahh the strange ways that our minds work.

Tamara
In reply to Tamara Gardner

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
Tamara makes an interesting distinction between journalling and blogging. The distinctions between how users perceive their activity in this "genrre" is beautifully explored in danah boyd's article at http://reconstruction.eserver.org/064/boyd.shtml
Well worth a read for all of us interested in what we are doing and why we are doing it.

In her first paragraph danah says:
"Only a fraction of Internet users read blogs and many do not even know what the term means."
Do you think this is still true??

Michael

V-. V-.
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blog programs

by Kelly Christopherson -
Michael,

I would agree that many people do not know about blogs. However, I think that is changing, especially in the K - 12 educational area. I see more and more teachers, administrators and senior admin using them for various reasons. I use a blog for a varety of reasons but mostly to build my networks, connect with other educators and discuss various aspects of education. As more and more educators begin to use these tools, we may see a wider range of uses. Having just begun blogging in January, I am establishing a fairly wide range of people who visit and read my blog, comment and are interested. At this moment, I am spearheading an online book club that will be reading Dan Pink's Whole New Mind. What started out as a few people interested has now grown into a 15 plus group of educators worldwide who are interested in exploring this idea with me. Thus, as a tool for connecting people and bringing together ideas and conversation, it is a powerful tool.
In reply to Kelly Christopherson

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
So here is a fabulous use for a Blog to keep those interested connected -globally- in meaninful dialogue... thank you for the idea Kelly,
Michael
In reply to Tamara Gardner

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
Tamara makes an interesting distinction between journalling and blogging. The distinctions between how users perceive their activity in this "genrre" is beautifully explored in danah boyd's article at http://reconstruction.eserver.org/064/boyd.shtml
Well worth a read for all of us interested in what we are doing and why we are doing it.

In her first paragraph danah says:
"Only a fraction of Internet users read blogs and many do not even know what the term means."
Do you think this is still true??

Michael

V-. V-.
In reply to Corinne Brooks

Re: Blog programs wiki

by Deirdre Bonnycastle -

I've created a list of various tech tools that I've collected over the last few months http://wiki.usask.ca/db/index.php/Main_Page

 

In reply to Deirdre Bonnycastle

Re: Blog programs wiki

by Emma Duke-Williams -
Hi Deirdre
It wants me to login to view the page. When I clicked on the "Login/Create Account" page, there was the option to login (either with an NSID login, or with a non-NSID one). But, there wasn't the option to create an account.

It sounds useful!
In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: Blog programs wiki

by Deirdre Bonnycastle -
Use the non NSID login if you aren't a student or faculty at the University of Saskatchewan. This asks for a user name and password that you create.
In reply to Deirdre Bonnycastle

Re: Blog programs wiki

by Emma Duke-Williams -
It wouldn't let me. It said to use the form to create an account. I tried using IE 7 as well as Firefox, in case it was a browser sensitive issue.

Screenshot
In reply to Deirdre Bonnycastle

Re: Blog programs wiki

by Deirdre Bonnycastle -
Sorry folks after I sent this message I found out our wikis aren't accessible unless you log in.
In reply to Deirdre Bonnycastle

Re: Blog programs wiki

by Michael Griffith -
Hi Deidre- the link you have provided requires a login... is there any workaround to access this? Maybe you could Attach the document as a file for us to look at... sounds fabulous.
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blog programs wiki

by Deirdre Bonnycastle -
I've attached a PDF copy of the info in my wiki.
In reply to Deirdre Bonnycastle

Re: Blog programs wiki

by Michael Griffith -
Deidre Bonnycastle has provided us with a fantastic "Tool Kit" for Web2.... thank you so much Deidre.
Please have a look -everyone- and fire any questions at Deidre re her experience of these tools......
Michael

I have a first question: the way you describe Elgg and Elgg spaces makes it seem that it is something more than simply a Blogging tool. Could you explain simply in what ways it is different?
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blog programs wiki

by Deirdre Bonnycastle -
The university just changed my wiki from private to public, so anyone can view it. http://wiki.usask.ca/db/index.php/Main_Page
In reply to Deirdre Bonnycastle

Re: Blog programs wiki

by Michael Griffith -
Thank you Deidre-
So what Wiki Program are you using here?
How do you set it up?... and
How do Colleagues add their contributions to this wiki page?

I am interested because I have been asked to do something similar on our campus at Australian Catholic University,
Cheers
Michael
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: programs wiki

by Deirdre Bonnycastle -

One of the joys of working for a large university is having an IT department that sets up blog and wiki sites. Students and faculty just apply for a personal/class wiki and the skeleton is there within minutes to start working with. They also provide training. You can choose to have a private wiki, a group wiki or a public wiki. It takes about two days to change the status. I include other editors by adding their NSID(university ID) to the wiki permissions area. There is a history area where we can see who edited what, when. There is a signature tool for signing your work, but I haven't used it.

The other advantage is all the wikis on campus are listed on a single webpage, so you can find out how other people are using them. Wikis and Blogs are very new on this campus, but I think they are an incredible resource for faculty and students.  

In reply to Deirdre Bonnycastle

Integrated blogs and wikis

by Sylvia Currie -
Moodle has integrated blog and wiki tools which make it easy for controlling access and editing privileges. For blogs, each post can be made private, available only to other users on the Moodle site, or public. Likewise, with wikis there are different levels of editing rights and access.

At the college where I wear my other hat we're just beginning to experiment with the Moodle blog tool. So far we've found it very useful for our Help Desk staff to post announcements and tips for students that feed into their "my moodle" page. This is much easier and more efficient than managing student mailing lists and posting temporary announcements on our web site. For one thing we end up with a nice history of posts to dig into and reuse.

There are advantages for having integrated tools. For one, it can be more easily self managed; students have a single login, and can understand the options within the context of their course/site environment. At the college we're always open to exploring all publishing and communication tools, but a single venue for all activities seems to work best for our students and instructors. Another advantage is that there are various ways to view site blogs, which creates a convenient boundary and helps with community building.

A disadvantage could be the blog is short-lived. I guess that would depend how the user accounts are maintained after graduation.

Here in SCoPE we have the blog module installed (a tab in your profile), but I don't expect it will become a hugely popular feature with so many other tools available. Plus there isn't the same need for an integrated community blogging tool.

In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Integrated blogs and wikis

by Michael Griffith -
Sylvia has given a clear account of the benefits of having Moodle as the focus for blogs and wikis within an educational setting.
Thanks for this Sylvia.
At our university we have a license for WebCT6 and so there is good reason for staff to get to know how to use this in all its richness... but we keep hearing such good things about moodle and some of us are keen to try it... but is it possible to try it and use it effectively without having it installed on a local server? We would have to persuade the powers that be (could be difficult) to have it located in parallel with WebCT......

Cheers
Michael. :-/ :-/ V-. V-.
In reply to Deirdre Bonnycastle

Re: programs wiki

by Michael Griffith -
Deidre describes a best practice at her university for providing support for bloggers and wiki-ers.... we (here down-under) can certainly learn from this: I will be pushing for something similar at ACU... thanks for giving us this model Deidre


Who else can tell us how blogging/ wiki-ing support is set up at your institution?

Michael ^-) ^-) ^-) ^-) ^-) ^-) ^-)
In reply to Corinne Brooks

Re: Blog programs

by Michael Griffith -
Hi all- I hope this message is received by everyone. We have been discussing tools to upload our creations to Blogs... this is to save the agony of preparing a wonderful blog and then finding it dissapear into cyberspace....

I have just received an email telling me that the tool I use on the Mac (MacJournal) is now available as a FREE Beta at

http://www.marinersoftware.com/sitepage.php?page=115

So if you are interested give it a try... I find it very good... with the one limitation being that you have to load up images separately (either from Photobucket (etc) or within LiveJournal itself... that is why I recommend that you keep a separate BlogPhoto folder on your computer to keep a record/ archive of all the images you upload
Cheers
Michael
:-) :-)
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blog programs

by Corinne Brooks -
Whoever recommended LiveJournal - thanks.

I've setup my free account and can see it will be easy for my MLD students to use. Its also useful that you can choose your own password - very useful for my kids who can use their school password for their blogs.

Now - my next problem...having no problems knowing what to use blog for with my students, but my own blog? What should I write about?
In reply to Corinne Brooks

Re: Blog programs - keep accessibility in mind!

by parker owens -

I've been lurking up to this point, but I thought I might throw a really interesting article at you: http://www.afb.org/Section.asp?SectionID=57&DocumentID=2753

It is important that ALL students are able to use the blog host you choose, so choose carefully!

In reply to parker owens

Re: Blog programs - keep accessibility in mind!

by Emma Duke-Williams -
That's an interesting point - given that blog tools quite often change over time and/ or our recommendations change - should we ensure that the tool is fully compatible, just in case, or, should we find a tool that's best for the current cohort, and then next year, re-investigate for the next set of students.

I'm thinking about the fact that one thing that I found difficult about signing up for LiveJournal was the fact I couldn't make out the letters in the first captcha they sent me; though the second was fine.

Elgg, which is my preferred blogging tool, doesn't have the captchas - it just emails you to confirm that you really want to use it. However, for her  students (with Moderate Learning Difficulties), Corrine preferred the greater simplicity of Live Journal (Elgg has a lot of options - which confused several of my MSc students - and would clearly be even more confusing to her students).

It's certainly something I've wondered about over the years, and I think that the use of the blog is vital.

For example - individual blogs for reflection - students may be given a preferred option - but given that they are their own, what do we do about, say, a non native language user? Should they be given the option to write in their first language?
If we have hearing impaired and dyslexic students in the class, and the dyslexic student decides to use audio blogging, as it's easier for her, should someone (who?) have the task of transcribing so that the deaf student can also access the blog?
If another student thinks best by using mind-maps and diagrams, and we have a visually impaired student in the group - what should we do?
I'd say the needs of the student should be paramount, and so even if you have a preferred tool, for particular individuals, then they should have the option to use a different tool (though with some guidance, e.g. to have one that has RSS feeds for consistency).

That's actually one of the great advantages of RSS feeds - it is entirely possible for the entire class to pick a different tool - and all can have an aggregator that allows them to see who has updated their blog.

However, in the case of a single blog that all students have to contribute to, and/ or a teacher blog that students have to read and/ or comment on, then I think it's important to select the best tool at the time - even if that means moving/ duplicating an existing blog - in the same way that if you have a preferred classroom for a particular subject - and one year you have a physically disabled student who can't get into that classroom, you have to move.
In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: Blog programs - keep accessibility in mind!

by Michael Griffith -
Emma has raised several key questions with regard to accessibility here. Thank you. My first response to this, from the perspective of what happens in my own organization, is that some form of mentoring would be the best solution. I know for example that dyslecix students are entitled to note-takers and scribes at exam time... and this has been provided by government or church funding over here.....

The RSS feed solution you mention sounds interesting- but rather challenging. Can you give a specific example Emma of how you might set this up so as to include the visually impaired student? That would be a very useful thought.... Parker: are you listening....
Cheers
Michael 8-) 8-) 8-) 8-) 8-)
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blog programs - keep accessibility in mind!

by Emma Duke-Williams -
Where I work, dyslexic students get extra time and/ or PC usage and/ or scribes during exams - depending on their assessment.

As far as I know, they don't get that level of help in coursework, or, if some do, it's never been students that I've had in my classes. Hearing impaired students have a signer for classes, but, as I've never had an hearing impaired students in my classes, I'm not sure what extra help they'd get for coursework etc.

RSS: That would be pretty easy to set up. An RSS feed is actually just a text feed - alerting you to the fact that a site has been updated. It can contain just the heading, or the first x characters of the post, or the whole post, depending on how it has been set up. (By the site owner).
There are a number of tools that let you aggregate feeds (also called feed readers). IE 7 and Firefox both include them, but you can get others (e.g Google Reader, Bloglines - which also has a blogging tool, and was recommended in the article Parker pointed to).

If you've not really come across RSS before and/ or don't really know its full potential, then the BBC has a guide to starting to use them: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/help/3223484.stm
Quentin d'Souza has compiled a list of ideas for using RSS for Education - http://www.teachinghacks.com/2006/10/26/100-web-20-ideas-for-educators-an-intro-to-rss-and-more/

To answer your question about visually impaired students - it's hard to say - as it depends clearly on the way that they're access the internet. I've not got any screen readers, so don't know how easily they'd read the text that you'd get displayed in say, Google reader, but as it's generally plain text, I'd have thought it would be OK. Given that they are generally plain text & not formatted, then that much greater number of users who just need to have the ability to enlarge the text wouldn't have a problem. The main problem would arise if their classmates include lots of images and don't use alt text - but that's more a case of educating the others - in the same way that they would probably learn how to help a visually impaired student in the "real world".
In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: Blog programs - keep accessibility in mind!

by parker owens -
At EKU, the deaf use note takers, and we also have an interpreter program. One of our biggest problems is in the area of video captioning. We don't have a funding source to caption all our archived videos. There are problems with interpreters, for instance during movies it is sometimes dark, and during computer classes it is hard to keep up with hands-on instruction.
In reply to parker owens

Re: Blog programs - keep accessibility in mind!

by Michael Griffith -
Parker gives a description of the real difficulties faced in the area of video captioning. So what courses are your students doing Parker. It would be good to get a sense of the wider context of your search for solutions. Maybe others could throw in their thoughts on this important issue.
And what a fabulous issue to be closing our seminar on.... As we know the internet was a huge step forward for many people with disabilities with this enormous proviso that so much was inaccessible..... this is something that educational institutions around the world are wrestingly with as we speak....

All other experiences and solutions in this are would be welcome! Throw your comments into the melting pot.....
Cheers
Michael
V-. V-. V-. V-. V-. V-. V-. V-. V-. V-.
In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: Blog programs - keep accessibility in mind!

by Michael Griffith -
Emma has given us a fabulously rich response on our questions regarding accessibility issues and the nature and value of RSS feeds. That BBC link is excellent. Thank you so much for taking the time on this.... I am hugely impressed by the generosity of so many in this seminar!
Cheers
Michael
:-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D
In reply to parker owens

Re: Blog programs - keep accessibility in mind!

by Michael Griffith -
Parker has introduced a really important consideration... not too late at all: the whole question of accessibility, which, I know, most of us at Universities are trying to face, albeit not very effectively. So this is a really important question with regard to blogging (especially in my case where I have made blogging an assessible item in my teaching). So thank you Parker, very much for "lurking" and finally rolling this question towards us. The good news is, it seems, that it is not an impossible conundrum: there are ways of dealing with accessibility issues in the world of blogging.This article takes us to the key questions and in the direction of the solutions.

Has anyone else in the dicussion found any leads in the direction of how to make blogging accessible for users with a variety of physical impairments??

Thank you Parker....

Cheers
Michael V-. V-. V-. V-. ;-) :-D :-D
In reply to Michael Griffith

Re: Blog programs - keep accessibility in mind!

by Corinne Brooks -
Having worked in  variety of special schools in UK, I find that many have add-ons on the PC itself to enable students to use the same programs as others.

Some have special keyboards, or large screens with larger screen resolutions (visually impaired). Most kids I've come across can use the PCs in their schools with little extra adult help (except for PMLD and some physically disabled students). The aim in most places is to enable such students to use the same software as anyone else can, not to debar them from using certain programs. This is achieved through use of specific hardware, or additional software to facilitate their use of the PC.

While specific programs are written for special needs kids, these are not necessarily the best programs to use with them as they emphasise the fact these kids are different. This is even more evident in a mainstream class if eg a specific child is singled out by having to use a different program to everyone else. Better to find a way they can use the same programs as the rest of the class.