|Jean LeLoup & Bob Ponterio
To Blog or not to Blog?
Just what is a Blog anyway? How is a blog different from your persoanl web page? or is it different at all?
Though in some ways a Blog or Web Log is basically a Personal Web Page, and these have been around the Internet since the inception of the Web. However, there is moe to blogging than just creating a personal page.
A blog can be about you, or your class, or a project, or just about anything at all. Whereas the main function of a personal web page tends to be disseminating information, a blog is much more about community building, about exchanging information, about the evolution of interests and ideas. Your PWP may just sit there, but one expects your blog to be constantly changing as you and others interact through it.
So what does a blog have that a PWP doesn't?
- Topic - A blog tends to focus on one or several ideas or interests. However these may evolve over time. The blogger presents his or her own thoughts and seeks comments, exchanges with others. The thoughts of the blogger are meant to be un-edited, the unfiltered expressions of the blogger.
- Comments - Visitors to the blog can comment on the blogger's ideas or on other comments from other visitors. So the blog needs to be able to receive comments in some way and make those comments available to future visitors.
- Organization - The blogger will organize the blog in some way, usually reverse chronological order, though multi-topic blogs can have varied formats that separate the topics. Organization helps visitors know where to look for things. Links to related web sites, to related blogs are part and parcel of the art of blogging. They may also add other features: music, video, pictures, podcasts, archives.
However, some blogs may not have some of these common features. Are they really blogs? What do you think?
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Services that provide easy maintenance of these sorts of blog-like activities have made it easy for individuals with little technological acumen to have their own blog. BTW The comment area is just a sample. Comments won't actually be posted here. This is not a blog
But what would this page look like as a blog? http://fl-tech.blogspot.com/
Blogs in the language classroom
The attraction of blogs for the language classroom is that students can be engaged in topics for class discussion or class activities and share comments and reactions to the comments of others on an ongoing basis. This provides a forum for real communication in the target language as well as a place for asking questions that might be answered by the teacher or, better yet, by other students. Blog topics for the FL class can be infinitely varied, though clearly teacher oversight, as always, is a must.
- The curricular topics of the syllabus are a place to start.
- Students can be asked to suggest blog topics and even provide initial opinion pieces to get topics started.
- Important school or course activities can generate discussion: a trip abroad, a recent sporting event, community news, etc.
Blogs can also be used for professional development for language teachers. An excellent example is Pat's Polemics - A FL Teaching blog by Pat Barrett.
For more about blogs: