Why use Blogs?
This user guide looks at how to create a blog (exploring various options), how to read blog entries and how to grade a blog. For information on adding blog posts, please refer to the Student Blog user guide.
The Use of Blogs in Your Modules
Blogs (short for web-log) are a flexible learning tool that can be used to encourage reflection, to develop writing skills and to build on classroom discussions. They are a great way for students to learn to share ideas. There are many uses of blogs. They can be particularly effective for students to use as a project diary and used in this way they enable the tutor to see how a student is progressing with the project. Another use is where the student has to produce a report at the end of a project. The blog is an excellent reflective tool, and allows students to see their own development.
Creating Blogs for Your Students
- Within your chosen module ensure Edit Mode is ON and go into the content area you want to put the blog in.
- Hover your mouse over the Tools button at the top of the page and choose Blogs from the drop-down menu.
- Click the Create New Blog button and you will be taken to the page where you can create your blog.
- Enter a Name and some Instructions. These instructions will be visible to the students from inside the blog, so it’s a good idea to put some details about the blog and what you are expecting from the students as a reminder to them.
- If the blog is to be available immediately to students, ensure the Blog Availability is set to Yes.
- You can set the blog to be available during a set period of time if required using the Display After and Display Until options.
When setting up a blog, you can choose between an Individual or Course Blog.
Each student has their own blog. Only they can write posts, but everyone on the course can read and comment on the blog posts.
One blog for the module. Every student can write posts, read each other’s posts and comment on each other’s posts. Note: Once you have specified whether the blog is an Individual or Course blog, you cannot modify this at a later stage.
If you check the Anonymous Comments box, students can choose to make a post without revealing their identity. Even as a module leader, you will not be able to see who has made an anonymous post, but you can always delete inappropriate comments.
Index Entries controls how the blog posts are organised – either weekly or monthly. When the blog has been created, there will be an index visible on the right-hand side which allows you to navigate the various blog posts. This can be modified at a later date so you might like to experiment.
You can also modify some editing options – allowing users to edit/delete entries and allowing users to delete comments. Students cannot delete other student’s posts or comments.
If you want your blog to be assessed, click the Grade radial button and assign a numerical value. A column within the Grade Centre will be automatically created (with the name of the blog as its title). This will allow you to later assign scores and feedback to individual students based on their engagement with the tool.
Click on Submit when you have specified all of your settings.
Create a Link
Once your blog has been created, it resides within the module. You now need to create a link to the blog and Blackboard will take you automatically to the Link page when you have pressed Submit.
- Ensure Link to a Blog is selected.
- Select the blog that the want to link to from the list of available blogs (probably the one you have just created). Click Next.
- You will be taken to a Link Information page. This is what is shown to the students before they open the blog. The Link Name will default to the name of the blog you set up previously. In the text box you can enter some information about what this blog is for. You have the option to restrict visibility of the blog link if you so desire.
- Click on Submit and your blog will be live and ready to use.
Reading the Blog
When you open the blog, you will initially be shown all the blog posts that have been made. You can read and comment on all posts. Over on the right-hand side of the page there is information about the activity within the blog.
- Click Blog Details to show the blog instructions, the amount of entries and the number of comments.
- Click the name of a student underneath Blog Details to view a list of all students. Those who have contributed to the blog will have a number in brackets next to their name denoting the number of entries.
- New posts are highlighted with the pin icon .
If you selected the option to grade the blog, you can assign a score to a particular student from within the blog itself.
- Go into the blog.
- Select an individual student (as mentioned above in Reading the Blog).
- Enter a grade in the box provided.
- Enter some feedback in the text box. If you wish to attach a feedback sheet (for example, your school might have a particular feedback form), click the paperclip icon and then browse your computer to select a file to attach.
- Click on the A button to launch the full Visual Text Box Editor which enables you to add rich content such as audio and video to your feedback or format the text differently, if you wish.
- The Add Notes link allows you to write tutor notes that students cannot see. These are visible to other module leaders.
- Click Submit to commit your grades and feedback.