Blast Off!

Now that you’ve done some exploring around Opening Doors to the Future the and understand how this program will work, it’s time to set up your very own personal blog to begin recording your thoughts, discoveries, and exercises. This post will give you a brief overview of the technology, explain the activities for the week, and provide links to some additional reading for those who would like to know more.

Blogs: An Overview

A blog, or weblog, is a format for publishing content on the web. As the name suggests, blogs are, quite simply, web-based logs of information that have the following features in common:

  • content is organized in reverse chronological order, with the most recent entry appearing at the top
  • dates and timestamps indicate when content was published
  • archives are automatically generated by the blog software
  • visitors participate in the conversation by leaving comments to blog entries, or posts

Way back in April of 2009, Technorati estimated the existence of over 133 million blogs with an average of 120,000 new blogs being created daily. The number is only growing. It’s likely that many of your colleagues, friends, family members, neighbors, and even their pets already have their own blog. You’ll find blogs written about anything and everything; some are focused on a single subject while other bloggers write about whatever comes to mind. Common blog topics include personal stories or insights, technology, politics, news, entertainment, books, business, hobbies, food, finance, sports, and, of course, libraries!

This WebJunction article is great if you want to read more about how librarians and libraries are putting blogs to use. Then check out a few of the librarian, library and educator blogs. Here are some of our favorites:

Blogs in Plain English Video:

Still confused about blogs?  Watch this video from commoncraft.  It should clear things up!

Click link to watch on TeacherTube: Blogs in Plain English

Too much jargon?

Confused by a term within the blogoshpere? Check out the Blog Term Glossary, you’ll be talking like a true blogger in no time!

Discovery Exercise #1:

Ready to start blogging? Set up your own blog and add your first entry!

  • Use WordPress.com to set up your own blog. WordPress is a free, hosted blogging tool where you can set up an account and start a blog in a matter of minutes. If you already have a blog and would like to use it to track your progress during this program, feel free to do so!
  • On WordPress, your blog address will be http://nameyouchoose.wordpress.com.
  • WordPress.com offers many themes/templates so you can choose one that fits you. Depending on the theme/template you choose, you might also be able to customize the header, sidebar widgets, and more. Take some time to explore the dashboard (i.e., the back-end of the blog) to see what options are available to you.
  • For detailed instructions on setting up a WordPress.com account, check out this great FAQ page.
  • It’s up to you to decide just how much you will reveal about yourself on your blog, but please provide at least your first name in either your profile or an early entry so the rest of the participants will recognize the author of each blog. The title of your blog and your username do not have to reveal your real identity. You can be as creative as you want with this!
  • Once you’ve set up your blog, go ahead and add your first entry! For your first entry, please introduce yourself and share something interesting or fun, like your favorite childhood game or your favorite current hobby. Or maybe you’ll want to share your favorite blogs (library-related or not) if you’re already a fan.
  • *Important – Please write an additional entry about your thoughts on blogs, blogging, libraries, and your experience setting up your own blog. You’ll be asked to write a blog entry like this for each week.

Discovery Exercise #2:

Once you set up your blog, send an email to Sarah at papplecsekey@gmail.com with the following information:

  • your name (real name please)
  • your blog address (URL) and your blog title

Discovery Exercise #3:

Keep an eye on the Fellow Travelers page. Leave a comment or question (note: it doesn’t need to be as long as a research paper; 1-3 sentences is fine!) on at least two other blogs. Keep an eye on your own blog, too. If someone comments on your blog, it’s perfectly appropriate to respond with a comment of your own. If people see that you usually respond to comments and questions on your blog, they’re more likely to comment and even come back!

Further Reading (optional):

These exercises are all about discovery! Have fun … and happy blogging!! Remember that this is “discovery learning” so, you will learn things as you discover them along the way. Each time you find a solution, you will rejoice and be that much more tech savvy! Enjoy.

Below is a diagram that will help you learn the basics of writing a new blog post. Click to enlarge.

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