In one of my earlier posts, Critical Thinking, Blogging, and Educational Reform, I presented a short review of James Farmer’s How You Should Use Blogs in Education and How Not to use Blogs in Education. They offer some very good guidelines on how to use blogs for educational purposes. For me, they answered a number of questions that I was wrestling with about how blogs “work” in connecting people that is different from a forum. For educational purposes, blogs do, indeed, create a different dynamic than a more goal-centred forum.
Today a friend pointed me to Jakob Nielsen’s Top Ten Design Mistakes for Weblog Usability which is a very easy and readable guide to creating a blog that will be seen and appreciated by all. I particularly liked his recommendation to remember that future bosses will see this blog, maybe not now, but even 10 years down the road. I also thought that he dealt with the issue of anonymity quite well, which addresses some of the concerns that have arisen in our Social Computing Class at Concordia University. It was interesting to me, as well, that he thought including a photo of the blogger was an important addition to a blog. I hadn’t really considered that before and am wondering if I really want to include one on my blog.
I also mentioned earlier that Stephen Downes has also written a much more comprehensive how-to on blogging, How to be Heard. In particular, I like his advice on what to write. I have found with my blogging that by going through the process of reflecting on what I am reading by so many others and then expressing my ideas about it has been a good self-discipline and aided in my own comprehension of the material. Frequently, I catch myself rambling incoherently, then stop myself and ask “What is it exactly that you want to say?” How many times have I taught that to my students! Forcing myself through the exercise of blogging has challenged me to express myself clearly and with focus. Not bad things for an English teacher to practice!