Blogging

Image

Image courtesy of Alexander Baxevanis

Note: This is in response to the post I did yesterday about the ELT Research Blog Carnival. Some of you asked about another option rather than blogging since some of you don’t blog. I wanted to respond to that and to provide some options. Also, I recently read a post by Rose Bard about her blogging experience. You can read it here. I also read a post by Vicky Loras about PD and blogging. You can read it here.

In January 2012, I made a resolution that I was going to start a blog as well as join Twitter as a way of sharing what I was learning and to learn from other ELT professionals. Knowing how successful resolutions tend to be, I wasn’t expecting much out of it, but I was at least willing to make an effort to try and make it work. I was pleasantly surprised (and still am) that so many people would be open to reading, commenting, and sharing what I wrote. I was also able to meet some amazing people who have added to my growth as a teacher. With the amount of information that was out there, I never expected to be noticed. All of that is great, but what does blogging do for me and for those I keep in touch with? Here are some reasons to blog as a teaching professional:

  1. People can get to know you at a deeper level. I have really enjoyed meeting new people on Twitter, but it is through their blogs that I begin to know them at a deeper level. I somehow puts everything into context.
  2. People can learn from you. In an age where we are bombarded by so much information, we have to pick-and-choose who we are going to listen to. The combination of Twitter and blogging has helped me choose who I am able to trust as a content source. We all have different areas of experience and knowledge and it is helpful to share that with others who can also learn from it. I started blogging about education and technology and I was surprised that people from around the world would ask me questions that I thought was common knowledge. I would then blog on that topic and discovered there were many others who had the same question. Sometimes people don’t even know what to look for. By sharing what you know with those whom you have built a relationship with, others can make discovers and move on from there on their own.
  3. It makes you think about why and how you do things. Through blogging, I have had to contemplate why I do what I do as a professional as I put things into words. Just typing it out has made me stop and think and possibly reconsider why this is important to me.
  4. It builds a professional image. Blogs have become a way that future employers and others who wish to work with you can see who you are and what you believe and think. This is probably the scariest thing about blogging. Once it is out there, it is difficult to remove it. Think of this as an extension of your electronic portfolio.
I understand that not everyone is comfortable with blogging. I am someone who feels intimidated by other English teachers reading my posts. What are they thinking? Am I completely off base with what I am saying? How is my grammar and punctuation? These are all things that run through my head just before I post something. There are others who are more private or are concerned about privacy. These are all completely legitimate reasons for not starting a blog. Maybe you are ready to start a blog and don’t know how or where to start. With all of those things in mind, I have collected a list of ways to get your content online. Some of these could be used as a one-time post for something like the blog carnival, others are on-going.

Blogs:

  • WordPress.com: This is where I have my blogs hosted. It is a free hosted blog site and is very popular with teachers.
  • Blogger.com: This is similar to WordPress, but is owned by Google. If you already have a Google account (ie. Gmail, Drive, etc.), you already have access to a Blogger blog. Just set it up and go.
Wiki:
  • Wikispaces.com: This is popular site for schools since you can have many people add or edit content, depending on who you allow in. This is also a good place to create an e-portfolio.
  • PBWorks: Another wiki site that is popular in education circles. Fairly easy to use and set up.
Online document editors:
  • Google Drive: Again, if you have one Google account, you have access to online storage and document creation with Drive. You can collaborate in real-time on a document, or you can just share documents with others. You can also allow comments.
  • Skydrive: This is Microsoft’s online storage and document creator. If you have an email account with Microsoft, you have access to Skydrive. You can also share documents you create with MS Word by sharing on Skydrive. It also allows comments from readers.
  • WriteURL.com: This is a registration-free site that allows you to type up or paste in text with simple formatting and can then be edited by others or shared as a webpage. Simple and effective for those who don’t want to sign up for something.
Notepads:
  • Evernote: This is what I use when I am taking notes at a conference, meeting, or when I am observing someone. I can then share my notes online (these are available to anyone with the link, but is difficult to find otherwise) and make changes when or if necessary. You can also share documents and webpages very simply. It is a free account and software for almost any version of computer, tablet, or phone.
  • Google Keep: Using your Google account, you can post notes and other things, much like Evernote, but using the Google Keep website, Chrome browser, or mobile app.
  • Microsoft Onenote: This is a part of Microsoft Office (not all packages) and is similar to Evernote but uses Skydrive to store your notes.
Webpages:

Document host:

  • Crocdoc Personal: This site allows you to upload a document (PDF, Word Doc, etc.) and it hosts it for free. You can then share the web address and people can read it and make comments. This is a registration-free option.
  • Google Drive: Upload a Word document or PDF and then share it with others. You can even allow others to make comments. It uses your Google account.
  • Dropbox: This is an online (cloud) storage option where you can upload files and then share them. People can view your document online and download it. It requires a free account.

These are not all of the options, but it shows how easy it is to get your ideas out there. Find something that works for you. Let me know if you need any help. Thank you.

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “Blogging

  1. This is really useful information, lots of tools i wasn’t aware of. Thank you.
    I had always been quite anti-blogging and twitter – thinking them both just self-indulgent or only for celebs. But i am now a blogger/twitter convert. My blog is still very much in its infancy (i’ve posted 9 blogs) but already i can see the value in building a community for sharing ideas. Unfortunately, in my experience this doesn’t seem to happen so much in my school (in Spain). Here are some of my ELT ideas so far… http://directorschair.es and my Twitter in @Directors_chair

    1. Thank you for your comment! I agree that there are some out there that blog just to promote themselves, but I have enjoyed meeting some amazing people who put themselves out there, not for themselves, but for the growth of the group.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and to comment. I hope you keep in touch!

      1. I’ll let you know how i get on with some of the other tools that you’ve suggested. This whole process is a massive learning curve. Evernote is next on my list – can you use it with classes? I was thinking of setting up a class blog; do you have any recommendations? Edmodo or wordpress?

      2. I personally use Edmodo with my class, although it is more like a private social network than a blog. We have a school Google account, so students can use Google Drive with Edmodo and have access to Blogger as well.

        For a blog for younger students, I don’t think you can get any better than Kid Blog http://kidblog.org/home/

        For both Kid Blog and for Edmodo, students can get on without an email address. They just use the code you give them.

        I haven’t used Edmodo in a class setting, although some have. I just use it personally. I hope that helps.

      3. Thanks for your response. I think in the end edmodo or kidblog will be safer – i just quite liked the idea of them potentially getting ‘real-life’ feedback.
        I’ll check out kidblog and let you know which one i go for.
        Thanks again for the detailed response

  2. It’s a very interesting topic, Nathan! I couldn’t agree with you more.

    I share the same feelings! In my case, however, the only drawback is that I’m not an English teacher (I’ve been thinking to become one), even though I’m not an English teacher, I like to be in contact with teachers, I’m always learning something new, not only to help improve my English skills but also because I intend to be an English teacher in the near future.

    It is interesting that when I’m writing a new topic, I think the same thing you wrote here, and I can relate to that: “I am someone who feels intimidated by other English teachers reading my posts. What are they thinking? Am I completely off base with what I am saying? How is my grammar and punctuation?” but with the disadvantage of not being a native speaker, and because of that, I feel terribly embarrassed sometimes, but I definitely have to get used to it.

    I started blogging two years ago, following my teacher’s advice on creating a blog to help improve my English. I love English so much that I’ve been thinking to immigrate to Canada, I want to broaden my knowledge of the English language, get deeply involved in it, make friends, and keep on learning, learning and learning. I have plans to learn other languages as well, by the way, I’m learning French and I’m enjoying the language. As for me, learning new languages is fascinating and broadens our horizons!

    Thanks for writing a great topic, Nathan! I’m quite sure that ELT professionals can learn a lot from you and this topic and even start blogging.

    Marcelo

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Marcelo. I am really impressed with what you have done with your blog. I am sure your former teacher must be really proud of you. 🙂

      You can see from both of our comments, that we both fear being judged negatively by others based on our writing skills. I don’t think we are alone on this either. I have to say that I am actually quite impressed by your writing. I guess we can both learn from this in knowing that no matter how nervous we are about making our writing public, there are many others who share our fear and are not willing to take the risk.

      I am going to share your blog with my fellow teachers to show them the power of having your students blog. You have taken it to a new level, Marcelo. 🙂

      Thank you again. Please drop by any time you want and share your thoughts with us. I can speak for all teachers in saying that we love hearing from those who are passionate about learning English.

      Tenha um bom dia!

      1. Hi Nathan, absolutely!

        I think it’s more like a feeling of self-judgment than the act of being judged.
        Yes, feel free to share my blog with your friends! I’m open to suggestions and constructive criticism.

        Thank you so much for the kind words, Nathan, and I really appreciate the words in Portuguese 🙂

        I wish you a wonderful week ahead!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s