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This workshop is a demonstration for beginners on how to use a blog to help you organize and disseminate information to your students. If you already have a blog and are familiar with the applications demonstrated, this is not the workshop for you.

The blog you are viewing is the workshop. As you read each post you will learn more about how to use and integrate these applications. This workshop does not provide step-by-step instructions in using the applications it highlights; the application websites do a better job of that then I could. Rather, I am endeavoring to show you how you might use web applications in a blog. The blog is a bit overloaded with sidebar items. You probably will not want to use them all.

Blogger: Start here

Blogger is a web log or blog publishing system owned by Google. This blog is published and hosted by Blogger. Other blog systems I have used are LiveJournal and WordPress. I have chosen Blogger for this demonstration because I find it the easiest for a beginner to use. If you are not planning on hosting your blog on your school server, hosting at Blogger is more than adequate. If you want your school to host your blog, check with your IT department.

Getting started with Blogger:

  1. Get an account at Blogger. If you have a Gmail account, you already have a Blogger account.
  2. Follow the simple step-by-step instructions.
  3. You now have a blog!
Watch Blogger's getting started video:

There are other functions of Blogger that are beyond the scope of this workshop. You should decide if you want to moderate comments on your blog. If you choose to moderate comments do this: on you Blogger site click Customize >> Settings >> Comments, then select "Yes" for the "Enable comment moderation" option. Once activated, before a comment is posted to the blog, it will be emailed to you for approval.

If you want a collaborative blog, with more than one author, go to Settings >> Permissions and add your other authors. Collaborative blogs can be useful for research or class projects.

Adding widgets to Blogger

Most of the services I describe in this blog have widgets associated with them. These widgets are displayed in the sidebar (Flicker is at the top). Adding widgets to a blog is a good way to make your blog more interesting and to easily disseminate information.

If you want to add a widget to your blog, follow these steps:

  1. Create a widget. Some of the posts below explain how to create widgets at different sites.
  2. Select the HTML code for your widget with your mouse. The code will be provided by the website.
  3. Copy it to the clipboard. (Press the CTRL key and the letter C at the same time.)
  4. Login to Blogger.
  5. From the dashboard, click on the "Layout" tab for your blog.
  6. On the "Add and Arrange Page Elements" page, click on the "Add a Page Element" link.
  7. On the "Choose a New Page Element" window that pops up, click on the "Add to Blog" link for an HTML/Javascript element.
  8. Paste the HTML in the "Content" section of the "Configure HTML/Javascript" popup window. Entering a "title" is optional. (To paste, click your cursor in the box, press the CTRL key and the letter V at the same time.)
  9. Press the "Save Changes" button to add the widget to your blog.
  10. Press the "View Blog" button to see the widget on your blog.
Take a look at my widget video.

If you want to move a widget, you can drag and drop it to a new position on the "Layout" page.


YouTube is the ubiquitous video sharing website. At YouTube you can view other people's videos and post your own videos. You can easily upload and share (with your students and others) the video you made of your walking tour of Stratford-upon-Avon, along with your own commentary. Or you can find another video of interest to share. YouTube has an enormous number of educational and instructional videos in addition to those of co-eds on spring break.

The service is free. It is not within the scope of this workshop to explain how to use YouTube. If you do want to use it, YouTube has great guides on its use. Once you have some videos, you can easily embed them into your blog posts.

To embed videos:

  1. Make an account at YouTube.
  2. Upload your own videos or find videos you would like to embed. YouTube is a video sharing site, so people expect that their videos will be shared and posted by others.
  3. Copy the "embed" code (to the right of the video you want).
  4. Using Blogger's "Posting" tool, select the "Edit Html" tag.
  5. Paste the code.
  6. You can then switch to "Compose" mode and add text to your post.
An example of an embedded video is below.

At the right I have added a Blogger widget that links to YouTube. It uses the keywords spam, archaeology, art, World of Warcraft, and Renaissance.


LibraryThing calls itself "the world's biggest book club." It is a big and busy social cataloging web application for sharing and storing your personal library catalog and book lists. You add books to your catalog by searching either Amazon, The Library of Congress, or one of the other 250 sources the site provides. Once a book is selected, you can review, rate, summarize, and tag the book. Since the site is a huge social network based on books, your books become linked to other people's books who share the same books or tags.

A practical use would be to select books and tag them for different disciplines or classes (creating sets), then share the these sets with your students. So if you are teaching classes on "English Literature of the Enlightenment" and "Commonwealth Literature" you could have one LibraryThing account and different sets for each class, depending on how you tagged the books.

To use LIbraryThing:

  1. Make an account.
  2. Add and tag books.
You can also make a LibraryThing widget, as I have done on the right. Just login to your LibraryThing account and go to the widget maker. The widgets can be formatted different ways, I have formatted mine to just show the covers. While there take a look at all of the other interesting thing you can do with LibraryThing.


Zoho is a full featured online office that provides individuals with a free suite of online office applications. A similar service is Google Docs. Zoho has more applications than Google Docs, including a wiki, project manager, and database creator. Both suites allow users to collaborate on documents, which would be good in a classroom or research environment. The great thing about online office suites is that you do not need to have the software on you computer, you go to the software on the Internet. There is no cost involved. (If you want no cost office suite software, try StarOffice from Sun.)

Your blog posts can be created in Zoho Writer and then easily uploaded to your blog. Blogging services provide a way to post to your blog via the web or your mobile phone, but the amount of formatting you can easily do is limited. Zoho Writer allows for richer formating of posts and it is easier to use.

Using Zoho is simple:

  1. Make an account at Zoho.
  2. Click the Zoho Writer icon.
  3. Write you blog post.
  4. Save the post.
  5. Publish the post to you blog, by clicking the Zoho Writer "Publish" tab.
  6. If you need to change your post, all you have to do is make the changes and republish.
Here is a video that shows the creation and publication of a blog post. The posts on this blog were created using Zoho, Google Docs, and Blogger's posting tool.


FeedBurner is a web feed application. It allows you to distribute (feed) your blog posts and headlines to your other blogs or web pages. People can also subscribe to a feed and keep up with your latest postings. If you click on this "chicklet" symbol on the right, you can subscribe to the feed of this blog. You can also give people the option of subscribing via email. To demonstrate FeedBurner's "BuzzBoost," I have included a feed from MCC Library's blog at the right.

If you want to use FeedBurner, get started this way:

  1. Create an account at FeedBurner.
  2. Put in the address of your blog in the "Burn a feed right this instant" box and follow the directions.
  3. "Publicize" your feed.
    • Create a "chicklet" via the "Chicklet Chooser," so people can easily subscribe to your feed.
    • If you want to republish your feed to another blog or website, use either the "Headline Animator" or "BuzzBoost" utilities.


Flickr is a social networking application that provides photo sharing and photo depository. Photos are categorized with user-generated tags and sorted into user-defined sets. More than just being a place to put your vacation photographs, Flickr can be used in creative ways. If you want to share with your students images your collection of rare Greek pottery or the dig you just finished in Kuaca Prieta, Flickr is a great place to do this. If you have a cameraphone, you can easily upload your photos to your Flickr account or blog (Flickr supports uploading to many blog sites). This is great, since you do not need a camera or computer, just your phone! The social aspects of Flickr allows users to find and link with other users' photos. You can develop a huge network of contacts this way, all based on user-defined commonality.

To get started with Flickr:

  1. Create an account at Flickr. If you have a Yahoo account, you already have a Flickr account.
  2. Upload photos. Flickr has very easy photo uploading tools. You can also upload via email or by mobile phone.
  3. Title and tag your photos.
For your blog you might want to create a Flickr badge (widget), like you see on the top of this page. A badge can display photos from your entire collection, or be limited to certain tags.

Here is a quick video on Flickr.


Twitter is a micro-blogging service that allows people to post short (140 character) posts or tweets. You can send and receive posts via the web, text messaging, email, or instant messaging. If you subscribe to a service like Jott you can even phone in your post. Jott does a great job of speech-to-text conversion. You might use a service like Twitter to post what you are doing, like "eating Twinkies" or "watching bad horror movie." But its real value is in the immediacy of the information that is shared. You can follow the tweets of major news organizations like CNN or The New York Times. During major events, like the fires in California last year, one of the best ways to learn what was going on was through collaborative Twitter postings by people in the midst of the event. If you are at a conference or lecture, you can post what is happening and your thoughts. Some people post only links to things they find interesting. The amount of information and knowledge that can be easily shared via Twitter is amazing.

How to get started with Twitter:

  1. Create an account.
  2. Set up a device (instant messaging, mobile phone, or both).
  3. Start tweeting.
  4. Look for other Twitters and follow them
You can easily add a feed to your blog of your recent tweets, as I have done on the right.

I like this introduction to Twitter from Commoncraft:


del.icio.us is a social bookmarking site that allows people to save and share bookmarks or favorites. Bookmarks can be tagged with user defined terms that help categorize the information. Your bookmarks will be available on the Web. You will always have access to them, no matter what computer you are using or where you are.

The main benefit of del.icio.us is the social aspects of the site. It makes good use the the Web's intricate interlinking of disparate bits of information. In an academic setting an instructor can set up one or many del.icio.us accounts, tag items of interest, and share with his students. Faculty and students can collaborate in a shared account, with the work of many individuals shared in a central, easily accessed place.

Steps to using:

  1. Create an account.
  2. Get tools for bookmarking:
Take a look at how to use the bookmarking tool.

Now you are ready to start creating your del.icio.us collection. When using Blogger to host your blog, you can easily display a feed or "link roll" widget of your del.icio.us bookmarks on your blog site, as seen on the right.