Blogging may be around for a long time now, but educators can use it as a platform to archive pedagogical thinking, showcase their classroom innovations, model reflective practice, and provide transparency in the profession and act as a form of professional development for other educators. And while blogging may be a thing from the past for others, it is still a growth area in education. This is because educators are a reliable and supportive online community that’s always looking for new ways to deliver education to other people. When you start to open a personal blog you’ll see that it becomes a Curriculum Vitae in itself and can be a part of your evolution as an educator.
The great thing about blogging is that it’s not dependent on external market-driven forces to maintain it. Blogging relies on you and your own ideas, how you choose to convey these ideas and how you promote them is the ultimate thing on how successful your blog can be. For example, if you use Twitter as a tool for CPD, you will stumble across some people who predicted the downfall of a company on more than one occasion. If that’ll happen to your ideas, advice and learning could potentially be lost with it. But educators online are unique. Educators have built personal learning networks (PLN) and an impressive number of chats inside the Twitter framework. New global connections are made each day between educators which results to a great impact on teaching and learning in classrooms worldwide. The company may be having a hard time on the macro level, but it’s blooming in the micro level of the education department. Blogging can be your gold reserve, a safe to keep your ideas, learning and general online dealings safe.
Below are our top 5 tips for educational blogging. Let’s take a look at them.
Choose a Blogging Platform
- There are a myriad of blogging platforms that are available in the web. There are two great options to start blogging which is Blogger and WordPress. Let’s take a look at them and how they differ from each other.
- Blogger is a blogging platform that’s created by Google, and has been around since 2003. The site offers a minimalist appearance and options but offers a lot of customization tools and templates for you to personalize your blog site. The site is completely free to use without any hidden charges. No need to create a separate account since it uses your Google account to log in to the site. If you’re a free user, you can start a blog with a partially-custom domain name (e.g website.blogspot.com). This is a great option for those who wants to start a free, low-tech introduction to blogging.
- If Google discontinues blogger (even though they won’t) your information is still in safe hands and they’ll give you the option to migrate your data to another provider or personal domain. Blogger also offers you with the option to use your own custom domain (website.com). By using a custom domain, you’ll have full access and ownership to your own material even if Google will discontinue blogger. Since Blogger is operated by Google, rest assure that the safety of your blog rest’s on Google’s hands.
- WordPress is the most popular blogging site that’s used by many. It’s easy to see why WordPress is preferable compared to Blogger. It looks beautiful and you can literally publish your first blog in just 5 minutes. When you first entered the sight, you’ll be guided by a step-by-step process on setting up your first post. The sign-up process for a free account is simple and after signing up, you’ll be asked to choose what template design to use. You’ll then be guided how to get your ideas online fast and in a professional looking way.
- What makes WordPress a more viable option is that it is a dedicated platform for blogging. It offers more templates than Blogger and are designed to give your blog maximum exposure. WordPress also offers you a way to organize your blog. Example, you can choose to lay out your posts in grid view for easy access to previous posts. You can also tag posts to neatly categorize them for your readers. There’s also a site sharing option, where you can quickly and easily link you blog to your social media accounts. So once you’ve published your blog, it’s automatically shared with each social media platform you linked your WordPress account with. If you decided to start a Blog then WordPress is the right choice for you. It’s a full-featured blog making site that offers more capabilities compared to blogger. You can choose either a free account or a premium one, the premium account gives you the ability to add a custom domain which guarantees the safety of your work.
- Weebly– If Blogger and WordPress is not your thing, then Weebly is a great alternative for you. Weebly has a unique drag-and-drop feature for easy website building even without coding experience. Back in the days, Weebly looks more like a complete website builder compared to WordPress. But that’s not the case now, as WordPress became more popular and has improved from time to time and is now used by many.
Just Do It
- One of the reasons maybe you have not started blogging yet is because of self-doubt. You may feel that you have nothing to say about the topic you want to tackle. As an educator, you may feel that your advice is not good enough because you are used to working in an environment behind closed doors and essentially operate as independent practitioners. Because of this, self-doubt may occur and you’ll begin questioning yourself if you’re doing it right or wrong. But don’t let this from stopping you to create what you wanted. Just do it!
- When you decided to post something, always be prepared for criticism. It’s normal to be criticized since no post put online is perfect. No post will reflect your thinking in 10 or 15 years in time. No post is 100% grammatically correct. What you need to do is when you decide to write, don’t let doubt kick in your ideas, just start writing and you’re good to go. You’ll begin to notice your doubt will quickly shift to self-confidence. And the opinions that you thought are presumptuous may be useful to others. So if your first blog is just an introduction to yourself, just do it and let your ideas flow. It’s better to write than letting your ideas be forgotten.
Find Your Purpose
- The earliest stages of blogging is much more important than understanding fully why you want to blog. You can start creating a post and publish it without thinking about analysis or self-criticism. Be natural when blogging. And once you get comfortable of being in the online world, then consider your target audience carefully. Are you blogging for yourself or are you blogging for others? See if blogging is your way of releasing your emotions or if you’re trying to help others understand more about education. Education technology blogs are a dime a dozen. But be unique in your own way, you’ll certainly develop as time goes by.
- WordPress and Weebly has the ability to easily share your posts through every different social media outlets. However, you may want to personalize your promotion efforts to make your blog well known. If you want to promote your blog on Twitter, you may want to know the importance of hashtags. A good and consistent hashtag will give you a wider audience. If you do this, make sure not to spam chats. And you do need to be careful when using hashtags and make sure it’s associated with your own content.
- Twitter also allows you to tag multiple people to a post and this is a great way of sending your blog directly to those whose interested in it. If you use this feature, make sure to choose the right people to tag. Make sure they’re interested in your topic or choose the ones that you know really well. By looking at your statistics on your chosen blog platform, you can see which posts were the most popular and which social media provided the most interaction. This allows you to create promotional strategies to maximize your blog’s audience impact.
The Importance of Copyright
- The moment you start Blogging, you’re likely focused on which content are you going to write without thinking about the important of copyright. Most bloggers probably feel the same. Using images on your blog can probably bring life to your content. Let’s take a look at Twitter for example, Tweets that uses images get 313% times more engagement than those without. Images is vital to a blog but sourcing them can be headache. To avoid any copyright infringement issues, it’s highly recommended to use your own photos as possible. If you don’t have any images to use, you can go to free stock photography websites such as MorgueFile. MorgueFile allows you to use any image at your disposal for free without attribution provided you adhere to their basic requirements.
- Once you have selected an image, you can edit/manipulate it using photo manipulating programs such as Canva, Easel-ly, Piktochart ot even Adobe Photoshop depending on your preference. These programs provide you with different templates that suits different social media platforms. So for example if you want to use an image to promote your blog on Twitter, you can create an image that automatically resizes to fit the image requirements on Twitter. In this way, you’ll likely gain more readers for your blog.