Blogs are a type of social website where an author or group of authors post timely commentaries or personal reflections and the audience responds via comments. Typically a blog will have a unifying theme―though a course blog’s theme may simply be the course―and blog posts are relatively short (500-2000 words) and informal in tone. In current mainstream blogs, photography often plays a key role in attracting readers. Blogs may be public, or visibility may be restricted to certain individuals or groups. Blogs can be creatively repurposed for other needs as well. Websites, ePortfolios, and research showcases are all legitimate uses for blog software. Depending on the blogging platform you are using, a few tweaks with the default settings can turn a blog into another type of site.
Blogs can challenge students to think creatively, write clearly for an audience, and share their knowledge and experiences with others. Blogs are also very versatile and can be shaped to fit each student and instructor’s needs. Settings can be customized to allow for limited access inside a select group of participants, addressing concerns of privacy.
Course blogs are one of the most popular uses for blogs at Georgetown. Created for either a single semester or extended use, a course blog offers students a responsive, user-friendly social system for interacting beyond the classroom. When set to "members only," it provides a safe, private extension for classroom conversation; when set to "public," it gives students the opportunity to engage with their classmates (and even others) in a public space.
When used to reflect on research, blogs can become part of a working group's or individual scholar's workflow. Research blogs are characterized by their use as a place to store and share documents, drafts, and reflections related to an academic project. Outside the classroom, thesis writers from a number of different departments, for example, have used research blogs to share their research and research process with their classmates.
As students participate in practicums, internships, or other learning experiences outside the classroom, they are often asked to write short reflection papers. By using an internship blog instead of a simple reflection paper, students can share their experiences with classmates participating in similar experiences outside the classroom. For instance, students studying abroad in Italy and Turkey with Betsi Stephen used a blog called "Mind the Gap" to bridge living and learning aborad with their studies on the Hilltop.
Georgetown offers students and faculty free Wordpress blogs through two different platforms: Commons course blogs and Domains. Commons course blogs includes access to CNDLS consultations and Georgetown themes, but there are more privacy and security controls in place. Domains can support blogs as well as other kinds of websites, and blogs on Domains have less restrictions on them.
To get started with Commons, request a Commons blog.
To set up your own Domain, visit the Georgetown Domains site and click on “New User.” Remember, individuals are allowed one domain name, so think of a url that is useful to you for a long-term project or e-portfolio. Typically, we recommend using your name or your research/professional interests (eg: digitalwatermarking.georgetown.domains).
For a consultation on using blogs in your class, including best practices, please contact CNDLS.