Blogs in Education

Blogs in Education

Shuyan Wang (The University of Southern Mississippi, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-014-1.ch019
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Abstract

Blogs have been sprouting like mushrooms after rain in the past few years because of their effectiveness in keeping contact with friends, family, and anybody else who shares interests. Blogs have been used in every field in present society and are becoming the mainstream medium in communication and virtual communities. Politicians and political candidates use blogs to express opinions on political issues. Since the last presidential election, blogs have played a major role in helping candidates conduct outreach and opinion forming. Many famous journalists write their own blogs. Many film stars or personages create their blogs to communicate with their fans or followers. Even soldiers serving in the Iraq war keep blogs to show readers new perspective on the realities of war. Blogs are increasingly being used in education by researchers, teachers, and students. Most high school students or college students belong to one form a virtual community as they share interests and daily news. Scholars have started blogging in order to reflect on their research. More and more teachers are keeping research blogs or creating course blogs. Students are keeping course blogs or personal blogs.
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A Brief History Of Blogs

A blog, the short form of Weblog, is a personal Web site or page in which the owner can write entries to store daily action or reflection. Entries on a blog are normally listed chronologically and previous entries are archived weekly or monthly. Bloggers, individuals who write blogs, can publish text, graphics, audio and video clips as entry contents. Readers can search these entries and/or provide comments or feedback to the entries, which is called blogging.

Blogs were first used as a communication device between computer programmers and technicians to document thoughts and progresses during product building (Bausch, 2004). In December 1997, Jorn Barger started to use the term of Weblog to classify a few sites in which readers can input comments on posted entries. There were only 23 Weblogs in the beginning of 1999. However, after the first build-your-own-Weblog tool, Pitas, was launched in July 1999 and other tools like Blogger and Groksoup were released in August 1999, more people started writing blogs because these services were free and enabled individuals to publish their own Weblogs quickly and easily (Huffaker, 2004). In August 2001, a law professor at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville created a blog, Instapundit, which got 10,000 hits each day. In 2002, blogs on business appeared and got up to a million visits a day during the peak events. In the same year, blogs gained an increasing notice and served as a news source. Blogs have been used to discuss Iraq war issues and to promote communications between political candidates and their supporters. More and more educators created their personal blogs and attracted large number of readers. For instance, Semi-Daily Journal was created in February 2002 by J. Bradford DeLong, a professor of economics at the University of California at Berkeley. The average daily hit was 50,000. According to Glenn (2003), Henry Farrell, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto at Scarborough, maintained a directory which lists 93 scholar-bloggers in 2003.

In 2004, blogs played a main role in campaigning for outreach and opinion forming. Both United States Democratic and Republican Parties’ conventions credentialed bloggers, and blogs became a standard part of the publicity arsenal (Jensen, 2003). Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary declared “blog” as the word of the year in 2004. Blogs were accepted by the mass media, both as a source of news and opinion and as means of applying political pressure. A blog company, Technorati, accounts that 23,000 new Weblogs are created each day. This is also reported as “about one every three seconds” (Kilpatrick, Roth, & Ryan, 2005). The Gartner Group forecasts that blogging will peak in 2007, when the number of writers who maintain a personal Web site reaches 100 million.

Key Terms in this Chapter

XML: Extensible markup language is designed for Web documents so that designers can create their own customized tags and enable the definition, transmission, validation, and interpretation of data between applications.

Blogger: The person who writes a blog.

Blogging: The activities of searching, reading, and providing comments to the blog entries.

RSS Aggregator: A program that can read RSS feeds and shelter new data in one place so that the readers do not need to search one by one.

Blog: A personal Web site in which the owner can post text, graphics, and audio and video clips as entry content. Readers can comment on each written entries.

RSS: Short form of rich site summary or really simple syndication, which is an XML format for distributing news headlines and other content on the Web.

RSS Feed: An XML file used to deliver RSS information. The term is also called Webfeed, RSS stream, or RSS channel.

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