MyABC Conference, Saturday April 21st, 2007, 10:30-12:30
Start Your Own Blog - Pro-D Session with David Truss

Session Description: For anyone interested in learning about and/or starting their own blogs.
A practical session that will introduce you to blogging.
You will see how others use their blogs and you will get a chance to create your own blog.
You will also learn just how easy it is to create links, add pictures and even movies to your blog.
Also, you will learn a bit about web2.0 and very easy to use tools that make your time on the web faster and friendlier.


Here we are on a Saturday Morning, when most other conference attendees are done!
So here is a Thank You ...which is also an introduction to my blog.
A short introduction to me.


When we are done today, you will have your own blog, a general idea of how to use many of its' features, and an understanding of some very useful online tools that you can use, as well as some blog peripherals that you can 'plug in' to your blog.

Maximizing your short time here: Until the break hopefully we can all stay together 'on the same page'. This should be about 25-35 min. where we look at blogs, to see how others use them... and then blog peripherals (add-ons) that you will want to encorporate into your blog once you get up and running.

Next, you will start creating your blog... and running with it. At this point you can go at your own speed! I will move along with anyone who wants to go step-by-step, and for those of you that feel comfortable with the instructions, you can meet your need to

• Who am I? Who are you? What brought you here?
• What is a blog?
• What are some good examples of blogs?

Using Your Blog
• What makes a good post?
• To comment or not to comment?

Tools to Help You
• What blog peripherals do I use?
  • I hope that this will be a conversation... We aren't reading what I wrote, that's there for you to explore... if you want to... later. I will introduce the tools, tell you why I like them, and show you them in action. You can ask questions, share experiences, and make connections to what you already know.
I appreciate your interaction!

-A short stretch break-
• Hours of links worth exploring have been shown for those that are keen to keep going.

Start Your Own Blog
Start Your Own Blog on Edublogs

Become a Blogger
• Learn to link, embed media, and tag your posts.
• Write a post.
• Sign up for at least one of the tools below.

What is a blog?

This is from a great series by Darren Rowse.
Blogging for Beginners

A Working Definition: From "Just What is a blog anyway?" -A USC Annenburg Online Journalism Review
"I can define them for you very easily," Jason Calcanis says. "There are three main features of a blog: the first is reverse chronological order, the second is unfiltered content -- the second somebody filters or edits the author it's no longer a blog -- and the third is comments." Calcanis's insistence on a precise definition puts him clearly in a minority of blogging experts who mostly admit they can't or won't define exactly what constitutes a blog.
Calcanis might add a fourth condition: hypertext links to the world outside the blog.
For me, my blog is a learning space.
It has evolved from a very personal space into a networked space.
It has evolved from 'another thing to do' into something I truly enjoy doing.

Examples of Blogs used in education. Each of these posts look at blogging in some way. They are all posts that have made me think, and some of them I have commented on. Be sure to check out some of these later!

What makes a good post?

10 Habbits of bloggers that win by Vicki Davis (Cool Cat Teacher)


external image startedablog319-thumb.jpg All bloggers like thoughtful comments to be added to their blog posts.
Also, comments build readership... people find your blog by clicking on you name (which you link to your blog)... after you have written a comment they liked. This is especially true of the author of the blog you commented on.

Here are two questions to ask yourself regarding making a comment... with more questions as answers...
If you answer yes... then comment!

Question 1. Should I comment? Answers: Am I adding to the conversation? Am I adding value? Am I moved? Are there unanswered questions? Can I point/link the auther to something relevant? Am I very thankful that I read this post? Can I offer support or encouragement? If yes, then comment.
Questions where an answer of 'yes' should stop you from commenting... Am I just trying to be funny? Am I going to type then post without re-reading my comment? Am I really upset about what I read? (Cool down first... like a sent e-mail you can't delete!)

Question 2. Should I link to a post on my blog? Answers: Is what I said really relevant? Am I doing this to add value/to add to the conversation?
Rather than doing this, one strategy that I have been doing lately is linking a specific blog post to my name, rather than just to my blog in general.

It is ok to lurk, there is no need to comment, although comments are appreciated.
Challenge #1: By the end of today, comment on a blog... even if it is just to say hello or give me feedback on the Start Your Own Blog on Edublogs blog.

*Note: some blogs have restrictions on who can comment. For example some Blogger (blogspot) blogs will only let you comment if you have a Blogger account. For this reason I have created some blogs that are more like blog profiles that introduce me and point to my blog.
Other blogs require the author to approve a comment before it is published- I think this is a good idea if your blog will be linked to your school website!

How to comment like a king (or queen) once again by Vicki Davis (Cool Cat Teacher)

Web2.0 Tools

You don't need any of these... but they all make your experience online more effective/efficient/enjoyable. If all you want to do is start a blog and then start writing, head to the Edublogs-Sign-Up page and get going. However, if you want to enrich your experience, take some time to find out more about these wonderful tools.

What is Web 2.0? Here is all you need to know:
Web1.0 was about:
Web2.0 is about:
Web1.0 was about:
Web2.0 is about:
Web1.0 was about:
Reading web pages
Web2.0 is about:
Reading blog feeds
Web1.0 was about:
My Favorites
Web2.0 is about:
My Networks
There are now too many different applications and services to keep track of. We will never be able to keep up with all the latest tools. So, ask your friends and coworkers what tools they use and love, and start there. Web2.0 is really about sharing what works with others! Here are some great tools I would like to share with you:

What is this? Online Bookmarking.

external image ...Challenge #2: When you get home today Sign up for Delicious!
(It is good to be on your home computer to add the 'buttons' as you go.)
There are 2 huge advantages to delicious over regular bookmarks:
1. Bookmarking online - access your bookmarks from any computer.
2. Social bookmarks, share and have others do the work for you.
For example: are you interested in: Web2.0, or metaphors, or Leonardo Da Vinci, or Leadership, or Online Math Tools links? I did the work, you reap the benefits.

The key to making your account useful is in tagging your links to put them in a number of different 'files' so that they are easy to find when you want them. Here is a great blog post about how to get more out of your account.


external image feed-icon-96x96.jpgReally Simple Syndication
What is this? It is like a digital newspaper where you pick all the authors.
I enjoy reading blogs, but I never have to go and check to see if they have been updated...
New posts are 'fed' to me!

Here is a great post about RSS feeds on the Infinite Thinking Machine:
Teachers often ask me "how do you find these things?" or "how did you know about this?" Much of the time I don't have to find or even look for innovative new things, because the news comes to me... and not because anyone is sending it to me, but because I'm using a tool called RSS, or Really Simple Syndication. Once you learn about RSS, learning about other new tools becomes much easier, which makes RSS a potentially very important thing for educators (and students) to understand.
By Mark Wagner

All 3 of these services work well:
Netvibes: I use this as my home page. Here is a good tutorial for getting started with Netvibes.
Bloglines: Register here.
Google Reader: You need a Google account. (I might switch to this.)
I used Google Reader for our blogs.
Challenge #3: Put this link to all our blogs in an RSS feed reader on your Bookmark Bar or in your favorites and check out what others in our group are writing about in our new blogs. You can also make this the first thing in your account and/or your first feed in your feed reader!

Also, add this external image button1-bm.gif to your blog: Make it easy for others to RSS feed your blog.

How do you put a feed in a feed reader? In the address bar, click on the icon external image feed-icon-96x96.jpg and then follow the instructions. (You need to be signed up, and signed into a feed reader first.)

Often you will see a "Blogroll" on someone's blog. This is their way of showcasing the blogs that they read. Although this is wonderful to do, it is not an effective way for you, yourself to stay up to date with your reading. RSS readers update and show summaries of posts so that you can stay current with the blogs you enjoy reading.
Two contradictory strategies to start using your feedreader: 1. Pick just a few blogs and read them frequently... add more as you follow hyperlinks and find new 'voices' that appeal to you -OR- 2. Start with many and weed out the ones that you find you don't enjoy or read regularly.


What is this? A tool to keep up with how your blog connects/links to the blogosphere.

external image masthead.png
Sign up for Technorati and claim your blog. Here is a 'How to'.
Why? Find out who links to you? What are they saying? How is your 'conversation' contributing to the blogosphere?
'Ping'? This is a way to let Technorati, and other search engines, know that you have made changes to your blog. Why? If you link to someone else's blog, they may not find out for days... unless you 'ping' your blog.


What is this? A way to keep track of where and when you made comments.

external image cocomment.jpg
CoComment: (What did I say? Where did I say it?)
This has a great feature where you add your recent comments into the sidebar of your blog... be sure to take advantage of this!

The Creative Commons

What is this? A liscence to share.

external image somerights20.png
Share, reuse, and remix — legally.
Creative Commons provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. You can use CC to change your copyright terms from "All Rights Reserved" to "Some Rights Reserved."

Quote from the Creative Commons home page.

external image 440409614_1ba856dc09.jpg?v=0external image cc_icon_attribution.gif external image cc_icon_noncomm.gif external image cc_icon_noderivs.gif Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License
Here is a liscence for your blog: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 unported. (The HTML code)
*This is the liscence I use... there are other options! Create a license that is right for you.
Why do I do this? I like to use images and videos in my blog, and most of them require this particular license, or will be covered by this license... and I like give credit where credit is due!

Add a little colour to your blog. Flickr Creative Commons Search:
Photos/images for your blog- just add attribution (give the photographer credit), I will also link to their page as well.
Search more than just flickr here. (Includes Google Video and Youtube)

Site 'Hit' Counters

What is this? Tracking: How many people are coming to your site? Where are they coming from?

Here are two tools: ClustrMap & Sitemeter.

ClustrMap gives you a map to put on your website.

ClustrMap instructions for Wordpress (and Edublogs),
Or try these instructions for adding a ClustrMap from Mike Temple's Edublogs Tutorials Blog.
- - -
To get even more specific information about your visitors try external image &js=1&rnd=0.34273801340849047.
Here are instructions for adding this 'hit counter', once again from Mike Temple's Edublogs Tutorials Blog. Or just follow the Site Meter instructions.
Instructions alert:
1. Use the "
Adding Site Meter to a blog" link on Site Meter to get the correct links.
2. On your edublogs '
Add Link' page you need to scroll down and click on 'Advanced' to see the Image Address field.
I use Sitemeter, (which has a map but not on your page, that's why I like ClustrMap too). Site Meter has valuable information about blog visitors, and it allows you to ignore visits from your home computer.
(Terminology clarification: A 'hit' is a visit to your blog.)
Click here to see a sample- you can click on other sample page views in the left hand column.
Other bloggers like external image button2.gif... I've tried it, but I have not spent enough time with it to appreciate what it has to offer.


Explode - Keep track of friends on any network. MyBlogLog - Most recent bloglog visitors to your page.


external image cilogo_2.png
Cooliris: Check out a web page without leaving your current page. I love this tool!

More stuff: See Miguel Guhlin's post Blog Peripherals: Borg your Blog

Take a Break

How long do you need?
For the keen... I have provided many links for you to explore.
May I suggest: Going back to the Examples page or signing up for an RSS feed reader.

Let's Start a Blog!

From here on in, please feel free to go at your own pace. Let's all start together so that I can show you one imprtant thing. Then, I will go step by step with anyone who wants to join me, and anyone who feels confident can move ahead of us. Even if you take your time with me, you are less than 15 minutes away from owning your own blog.