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NECC09 Blogs

NECC bloggers, Posted on Flickr by Craig Nansen

A common feature of some of the most successful Web 2.0 applications is their simplicity, and nothing has demonstrated this more than blogging.  Blogger.com, a free blogging platform from Pyra Labs, was launched on August 23, 1999. (( Yassar, Isaac. “The History of Blogger (www.blogger.com).” [Weblog Isaac Yassar's Blog] 6 Mar 2009. Web.24 Jun 2009. <http://isaacyassar.blogspot.com/2009/03/history-of-blogger.html>. ))  Suddenly, anyone with access to a computer and the Internet, and the slightest typing skills, could publish to the world — for free.  Type the title of your article into a textbox, type your article, click [Publish], and your words are available to a global readership.  The simplicity is its power and its impact has been profound.

Many people at NECC will be blogging.  129 people have already registered with the NECC web site as conference bloggers.  Many more will be blogging more casually, simply as a way of recording their experience and notes about what they are learning, for their own record or to share with colleagues at home. 

If you already have a blog, you can register it on the NECC site by filling in a form.  In fact, there are usually a handful of people who blog the conference without being there at all — but writing about the blog articles posted by people who are there — filtering in the best.

If you do not yet have a blog, it is surprisingly easy to set one up.  Here is a list of the blogging platforms I usually recommend in my presentations and workshops.  They are all easy to set up, easy to use (though they offer many sophisticated features), and they are reliable services.  There is also a link to instructions and/or a video on how to set up an account.

Blogging Service Setup Page

Instructions

 Blogger.com You can start your account here.  This will create a Google account for you as well.  If you already have a Google account, then go here first to sign in. YouTube video instructions
WordPress.com WordPress.comword is a free blog hosting service using the WordPress blogging software, an open source software package that you can download and install on your own server if you have one. You can start your own free WordPress.com account here. YouTube video tutorial
Edublogs.org Edublogs is another free blog hosting site using WordPress. It was created by James Farmer and is intended for educators only. A video tutorial from the EduBlogs site

I have also been playing around with Blogsome, a free WordPress hosting site out of Ireland, and enjoying it. There are other opportunities, including blogging with Ning. Ning is a service that allows users to establish facebook-style social networks, and NECC has one that can be joined by joining Ning. All NECC Ning members automatically get a blog, but there may be a disadvantage here. NING blogs may not show up on blog searches, which may suit you fine, but would not serve the broader expanding conference experience.

Tagging your Blogs

If this was all there was, then blogging would be little more than a bunch of web pages posted on the Web — thousands per minute.  There is some sophistication behind the simplicity of blogging that kicks up its value, especially when blogging around a common topic or experience. 

Tagging is the key and it involves applying tags or labels to your blog (or other published media).  Many conferences have established tags, though NECC does not seem to have established one this year.  That is not a problem as it is usually pretty simple.  NECC is a good tag, though it will include all NECCs, not just the 2009 event.  So NECC09 or NECC2009 are also good tags.  The safe bet is to use all three.  It is also a pretty good idea to tag the session you are blogging.  I usually use the last name of the main presenter.  But tags should be a single word that you believe others might search for if they were interested in the event or presentation.

Much of the time, simply including the tag in the body of your blog is enough.  But there is a syntax to blogging that some information gathering services on the Internet prefer.  Most blogging services include a feature for entering your tags and it will create the syntax for you.  But there are online tools and a variety of widgets that will do the same for you.  I have a tool, that is part of Landmarks for schools, called Blog Tag Generator

There are three steps for using Blog Tag Generator:

  1. Click the image to enlarge

    Type the tags (necc, necc09, necc2009) into the first text box.  If you are using phrases (21st century skills), then enclose it with quotes.

  2. Click [submit].  This will generate the code syntax for your blog, which will appear in the larger textbox.  Highlight and copy this code.  Got to your blog, click to see the source or html (you may to look for this button) and then past the code at the bottom of your blog.
  3. Type the URL of your blog into the third textbox and click [ping].  this will cause Technorati, a major blog indexing service, to capture and record your blog.
Click image to enlarge

This last part has gotten a little technical, and it is certainly optional.  But I will explain its value in the next post of this series.

One more note: You are not required to wait until you reach NECC in Washington to start blogging it.  Technorati has already indexed 33 posts with necc09 and 18 with necc2009.  Google has indexted more than 3,000.

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Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network
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Redefining Literacy 2.0 (2008)
Classroom Blogging
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Raw Materials for the Mind
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