also been used by others I’ve taught it to, as a fun and accurate way to explain blogging – and it doesn’t even need a computer!I came up with this activity to demonstrate to teachers what (mo)blogs are, how they work, and why they can be such a powerful strategy for empowering and engaging learners. I’ve used it on a number of occasions – first for a Social Web Professional Development Day in July 2006, and most recently, last Friday, at a Professional Development workshop on M-Learning, for the University of Canberra. I’m pleased to see it has
To provide a hands-on, interactive explanation of (mo)blogging, and the way that blogs can be used in education as powerful learning tools.
For a group of 6 or more workshop participants. The bigger the group, the better and more fun.
- A5 sheets of Paper – one per participant, and preferably in many colours
- Writing implements – lots of colours of ballpoint pens and/or colourful textas
- Post-It Notes – I use 47.6 x 73mm ones. If you can find some colourful ones around this size, so much the better.
- Place the Materials (listed above) in the middle of the activity space. Explain that this represents a Blogging Site: a place that provides you with all of the tools you need to set up and publish a blog.
- Invite participants to choose a sheet of Paper for themselves in any colour, as well as a pad of Post-It Notes and some Writing Implements. Explain that this represents how blogging sites allow users to customise the appearance of their own blogs, and personalise them.
- Tell the participants that they are about to write their very first blog post. (I like to get participants to blog about “Food and Drink” for this activity, because everyone has their own favourites, and it makes this exercise more fun; but you might have your own topic in mind). Ask them to write a paragraph or so about their favourite food or drink, and to draw a picture of it.
- Ask participants to also “tag” their post, by adding some summary information at the bottom: for example, whether this item is served hot or cold; whether it is a food or a drink; or whether it is served as an entree, main course, or dessert.
- Now everyone puts their posts back in the middle, and you invite participants to each take someone else’s post. Ask them to comment on the content, by writing their comments on Post-It Notes and sticking them onto the original post: for example, do they agree or disagree with the original poster’s favourite food? Do they like the picture that the original poster drew? Tell them that blogs allow this kind of commenting” by readers, which can help learners to consider new ideas and reflect on their own in new ways.
- Get participants to keep putting their commented posts back into the Blogging Site for others to read and comment. They are allowed to review their own blogs at any stage and remove comments they don’t think are useful, or comment on each others’ comments, too. When this has gone on for a little while, and all of the blogs have at least a couple of comments on them, get everyone to put all the blogs back in the middle and to find their own. The multicoloured paper helps to make this much simpler. They should have lots of fun reading their comments!
- Explain that this is what social software, such as blogs, is all about: sharing and exchanging ideas to build new ideas and new knowledge.
- Get everyone on their feet, and ask anyone whose food or drink is (or could be) served hot to stand on your left, and everyone else to stand on your right. Explain that this demonstrates how “tags” or “categories” are used to organise information in blogs, which are usually also searchable, to make it easy to discover new information in other people’s blogs.
- As a final (optional) activity, ask everyone to write another (brief) blog post on another favourite food or beverage, and to come and stand in front of you when they finish. Explain that most blogs allow readers to subscribe to them in various ways – with RSS being the most popular – which allows readers to be immediately informed if a blogger updates their blog, without having to visit each site.
You can certainly expand on and vary this activity to suit your participants, but this sequence communicates most of the important principles of blogging, without a computer in sight, and uses visual, auditory and kinaesthetic aspects to engage learners with all learning styles, which makes this a very fun activity for all.
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