Tag: blog (page 1 of 2)

7 Years of Blogging

Something I noticed today made me get all reflective…

On December 8, 2006, I wrote and shared my first blog post, something about educating parents about Web 2.0 tools. That’s a quick 372 weeks, 2603 days ago. Since then:

  • 265 posts, an average of 1 every 9.8 days or so.
  • 25,316 views (Half of which are possibly my mother, I’m sure.), or a little more than 10 per day (since Jun 4, 2007, actually, but close enough).
  • 588 comments (not sure how many are my replies–I do try to respond), which is about 2.3 per post.
  • 62 pings (other folks’ sites or blogs linking to my posts)
  • Visitors from all 50 states and 135 countries
True story: I once bought a t-shirt with this on it. (Pretty much gave up being cool right after college.)

True story: I once bought a t-shirt with this on it. (Pretty much gave up being cool right after college.)

So, what does this mean? (It definitely means I don’t have the most popular blog on the Web, for one thing.) Importantly, that first post on December 8th represented the first day I started building my PLN–first blog conversations, then Twitter, Google+, etc. Too many great, professional and personal conversations to count. Imagine the challenges connecting with even a fraction of those numbers of folks only 15 years ago. That post led to others and to the first reader comment (Thanks, Jeff Whipple–my co-workers still make fun of me for an over-the-top celebration of getting a comment from a stranger.), the first conversations, numerous collaborations, and genuinely close friendships. It also was the start of some healthy and productive reflection. I never liked diaries or journals. Hated ’em, in fact. Yet blogging has somehow been something that I have enjoyed and stuck with, and it has helped me grow as a person and professional. I liken it to people who talk to themselves to sort out their thoughts, only someone occasionally eavesdrops and chimes in to find out what you are talking about.

Over these 7 years, I’ve read opinion pieces saying blogging is dead or has already died. Thankfully, those writers get paid to write nonsense (I do it for free–yea!), and I look forward to doing this for the foreseeable future. I encourage every single educator to give it a shot, too. Professional reflection is a very worthwhile exercise, even if you don’t load up on comments (Don’t discount the possibility, though!). While you’re at it, get your students blogging. It is a great opportunity to apply writing skills, share with an authentic audience, and start putting together a record of their growth as students and individuals. On top of that, it is quite simply a truly pleasurable undertaking. Thanks for reading (not just you, Mom)!

BISD 12 Second Tech Challenge #11!

We’re getting down to crunch time. The big prizes will be announced next week, but for now, intrinsic motivation will have to do! For today’s challenge, you’ll need to create your own blog, using the site Posterous.com. Now, before you click back to the Cartoon Network site just yet, hear me out for a second.


BISD 12 Second Tech Challenge #11 on 12seconds.tv

Posterous is a site I recently shared that allows users to post using just an email message, even one that includes pictures or videos. You can even read and reply to comments via email. Accounts are free, of course, and you can blog about anything you like to talk about: family, sports, work, children, movies, food, etc. I want you to see how addictive they can be, and the best way to ensure that is to write about what you know and care about. Just be sure to share your blog’s address here once it’s set up!

Blog Via Email with Posterous

When I first read about the blogging site Posterous, I will admit that I was not overly excited. The site allows users to create blog posts by simply sending email messages to post@posterous.com (Try it–the site will automatically create a page for you with your first email.). Certainly easy enough, but not particularly exciting. After giving the site a test run, however, I have changed my opinion completely. Posterous is not only as easy as advertised, but it is a remarkably powerful and intuitive blogging tool with a surprising number of useful tools.

Posterous screenshot

Some of the more notable features of the site:

  • Blog via email to a single, easy address. Blog administrators can add additional bloggers simply by adding additional email addresses.
  • Add images by inserting as attachments. Multiple images will be turned into a custom gallery, as seen below.
  • Add video by either uploading or (even cooler) by simply including the link from YouTube or other video hosting site. Posterous will automatically embed the video.
  • Attach documents, .pdf files, PowerPoint files by attaching to email messages.
  • Receive and reply to comments posted through email.

Image gallery

There is very little I don’t like about Posterous, now that I’ve tried it out. It would be nice to be able to choose from a variety of templates for a custom appearance, but the site claims to be working on that very feature. The biggest challenge, to some, is that it does require email addresses for student participation. However, given the availability of free, monitored student email through sites such as ePals and Gaggle, this should be an easy issue to overcome. Ultimately, the site’s creators have done a very nice job putting together as  user-friendly a blogging tool as I’ve encountered to date.

New: Threaded Comments!

I just activated a new plugin that will better facilitate our conversations by creating threaded comments. This means you can reply to comments left by other users, and they will list them underneath the original replies. Hopefully, this will be yet another way to make our conversations more engaging and powerful. Thanks to the folks at Edublogs for the great, new tool! Give it a try!

New Address

Just wanted to make everyone aware that the blog can now be accessed via the original URL or at my new address, http://mossfreestone.com. I wanted something a bit simpler and easier to remember–hope I’ve accomplished that!

Students Talk About Blogging

I finally was successful at uploading a video of some interviews I conducted this spring with students who published their writing to a class blog this year. In just six months, the students’ blog had over 1,000 visitors from six continents! What an effective way to motivate our students to write! The blog also includes some good insights by the teacher.

5 Easy Ways to Dip Your Toes in the Web 2.0 Water

Come on in!For any educators out there who like the idea of Web 2.0 and recognize its importance, but are too intimidated or otherwise reluctant to dive right in, I offer the following list of 5 things to try first. I think these tools will give you an idea of how simple it is to create online content and to build an online community.

Blog

Just write. Write about your family, a hobby, your job (carefully, of course), politics, religion, entertainment, or anything that interests you. Start out by committing to blog once per week. Send emails to your friends and family, inviting them to read and join in the conversation. You may be surprised how easy it is to build a loyal following, as they respond to your ideas, expand on them, and argue with them. A very easy site to begin blogging with is Blogger. It’s account setup and user interface are very user-friendly. Others to look at are WordPress, Windows Live Spaces, Blog.com, or Blogster. There are also numerous blogging sites intended for particular audiences, such as Edublogs, of course. Try more than one–they are all free for basic memberships–and see which suits your preferences and needs best. The important thing is to just do it–write, invite, communicate. (You’ll also get more blog traffic if you frequent other blogs, leaving thoughtful or eye-catching comments and including your blog’s address.)

Create a Podcast

This is a very easy way to get content on the web and to get an audience, and it is especially appealing to those who aren’t as big on writing. To create an audio podcast, you need either a computer with a microphone and audio editing software or a cell phone. You can create a free online podcast account at numerous sites, including Podbean, Podomatic, MyPodcast, etc. You can go through the steps of getting your podcast listed in iTunes, if you wish, but it isn’t absolutely necessary. Next, create your first podcast. Use an audio editing program, such as GarageBand (Mac) or Audacity (PC). Record yourself talking about a topic which you are particularly knowledgeable or opinionated about. You might also record homework information or study tips for your students. Edit, if needed/desired, to eliminate unwanted noises, pauses, coughs, etc.. You can go so far as to add musical introductions/endings, but this isn’t a requirement. I found a nice selection at Incompetech.com that is all licensed under Creative Commons as requiring attribution only. If needed, convert your file to mp3 (This is an Export function in Audacity.). Upload your file to your podcast page, give it a description, and invite some friends to listen. They can leave comments and subscribe to your future podcasts. Again, you’re starting a conversation, only this time with your voice. If you want it to be an even easier process, sign up for a Gcast account, and start podcasting via cell phone. Either way, you will find it is a very easy, enjoyable, and efficient way to create content.

Broadcast a PowerPoint

One of the easiest ways there is to share information on the web is to simply upload content that already has been created. PowerPoints are a favorite in many classrooms. One thing that I believe leaves them lacking in terms of usefulness, however, is that they are designed as a one-way communication tool, and generally for a small audience (the teacher). A site that takes PowerPoint to the next level is Slideshare.net. With an account in Slideshare, PowerPoint presentations can be uploaded and converted to a Flash video format. Most formatting is preserved, including slides, illustrations, text, and links. Viewers can check out the show, leave comments on the entire thing or individual slides, embed the show into their blogs, or download it to their own computers. Imagine having a class upload all of their PowerPoint shows, then view classmates’ shows and leave questions/comments–takes PowerPoint from 1-way communication to multi-directional instantly.

Share a Document

The next time you have to create a word processing document, spreadsheet, or PowerPoint presentation with a group of people, try doing it online. Google Documents is a great place to begin (You can also use sites such as ThinkFree or Zoho, if you prefer.). You’ll need an account (free). Create your document, then click on the Share tab on the right of the screen. You will be able to send an invitation to other users to contribute their own ideas and content to the product you started. It is really amazingly exciting and powerful to watch as the screen automatically refreshes, and changes made by other users automatically appear as you work. You’ll gain a better understanding of the usefulness of this tool for student collaboration.

Stumble

This is the easiest way to discover and bookmark new pages on the web that I have found. You can also recommend sites to others. To sign up, go to StumbleUpon and register, including your interests. You’ll get a browser add-on with the company logo and the word Stumble! on it. When you have a spare second, click this button and a random site appears that is related to the profile you created when you registered. If you like it, click the I like it! button, and it is added to your online bookmarks. You can also recommend new sites using the same button, and they will be shared with other members. It is surprisingly addictive, especially during commercials in the evening, and you will discover parts of the Web you likely never knew existed.

These are just a few tools, but they are all easy to get started with, and they’ll give a good feel for the general idea, that the Internet is now about creating content and creating communities.

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