[ETEC 524] Tech Playtesting Assignment 1: Blogs

A blog (or otherwise known as a “weblog”) is an online journal where a writer or a group of writers can share their views, content, or ideas on various subjects and make available for virtual reading and sharing. Blogging connects you to a relevant audience and give a platform for thought and lists entries in reverse chronological order.

 I have blogged for many years personally to sort through ideas, experiences, feelings and emotions on things happening in my life, and more recently, I have dabbled in blogging professionally in the Educational field to keep students and their parents updated about college and career readiness, FAFSA, and events and information from our programs success with our cohorts. Additionally, we encourage blogging from our students to understand more of how they think and feel about the material and experiences presented to them. Blogs fit the purpose of opening communications for students to share their thoughts.

Most blogs focus on a specific topic, while some are more to link to other sites and services. Personal thoughts and journaling through blogging is important and can be used in the pedagogical stance to facilitate learning through reading, writing, reflecting, and sharing thoughts and ideas in a digital environment. Blogs can evaluate a student’s contributions through analyzing and evaluating what they think about what they learned or didn’t learn, as well as showcase their creativity in design through how they design and set up their blogs.

Some of the blogs I have play-tested and ultimately used have been WordPress (www.wordpress.org), Tumblr (www.tumblr.com), and Wix (www.wix.com) blogs.

Each of these blogs are open source software and fully multimedia functional and collaborative and so much fun to play around with and design. The real differences between these blog sites are their usability, pricing, and flexibility.

WordPress, my choice to blog on and also known as “the world’s most popular site builder”, powers more than 33% of all websites on the internet. It has its own hosting site (found at www.wordpress.com), and is a very powerful content management system which can build websites and blogs. WordPress supports blogs, business websites, online stores, online courses, membership sites, and even online marketplaces. I was able to create a new blog site in under 10 minutes that gave me the capability to immediately create content, design, and incorporate add-ons out the gate. WordPress uses a simple WYSIWYG editor that comes in two different forms, one for plain text where you can add formatting though HTML coding, and one visual editor.

What I like about WordPress and pretty much any blog, is the managing design and appearances. WordPress uses “theme” templates that are premade and customizable for blogs and websites. Unlike Wix, WordPress does not have a drag and drop content editor that is customizable as you write it, but it does similarly have a drag and drop page builder capability if desired. Colors. Layout combinations, logos, portfolios, and social media synchronization are all capable. I feel like I am able to show my creativity, personality, and the purpose of my blog the more designing, content and availability to engage I’m able to give to it. The more I blog to support learning and provide information, I have incorporated more media content in my posts (music, pictures, video, memes, graphics, flyers, etc.) to help keep the reader’s attention and give them easier ways to link and share to social media sites, email, and other blogs.

Whether its using WordPress, Wix, Tumblr, or any other blogging site or capability, blogging can be not only engaging and educational, but also therapeutic. Blogging can teach students and has taught me how to communicate information more effectively to diverse audiences and develop better writing and presentation skills. However, like most outlets for creativity and free thinking, blogging can contribute to some potentially negative and abusive behavior such as trolling, the deliberate act of making random unsolicited and/or controversial comments intended to instigate conflict, hostility, or arguments online. I believe that part of the pedagogical learning of blogging involves helping to developing students ability to handle negative interactions and unexpected interruptions and supporting them through their words and thoughts.

Even with these potential issues, blogging is beneficial in that it increasingly promotes participation and the collaboration of knowledge and thought. Blogs create a space for interactive exchange and strategy. Blogs also greatly encourage reading and writing and responding around focuses and reflections. The more we encourage blogging and the use of blogs, we contribute to the growth of creators, writers, and challenging thinking.

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