This article covers basic topics in blogging on the free service Blogger.com including:
  • General questions
  • Basic blogging
  • Advanced blogging
  • Links for further reading
At the moment, much of this information pertains to the blogging the Junior Urban Adventure, although much of it is general in nature and generally applicable.

General Questions

What is a blog?

A blog is a free website that you can post to. Each post has a title and contains pictures, links or video. Each post also has the opportunity for people to comment and share their opinion of what you posted. To the side of the blog is a space for resources and links. All of this information is easily updateable by you and your students without technical computing skills.

How do I make a blog?

Your group blog has already been created. To access it please respond to the invitation email you’ve been sent. If you do not already have Google account you will be prompted to create one.

How do I look at my blog on the web?

Visit the JUA Portal and choose from one of the groups in the list on the right side of the page.

What am I going to use this for?

In the past we’ve used a paper based system for narrowing research topics and sharing results. Blogging is an opportunity to do similar work but with much broader visibility, opportunities for feedback and multiple learning styles.

You’ll use the blog to:
• Share group findings with the world
• Pose questions and have your students answer them online
• Share student work as a venue for feedback
• Post reports and updates for curious family members and students
• Share links to resources and ideas
• Teach appropriate technology use and research skills

So is it my blog or my students’?

The blog belongs to your group and will be moderated by you, the adult. You control how content enters the site and it’s quality. You do not need to post everything your students hand you! If you have a senior leader and feel comfortable with their skill this is a good job to delegate, at least in part.

I’m having trouble looking at my blog

Blogger.com works best if you use the following web browsers: Firefox for Windows / Mac or Internet Explorer for Windows (version 5.5 or higher).

Basic Blogging

How do I log in?

Once you have responded to my invitation email (see above) go to www.blogger.com and type in your username and password. The first thing you will see is your Dashboard.

What is my Dashboard?

When you first log into Blogger you are presented with a list of the blogs you author. In addition you will see your profile information and links to help resources. In the section for your blog there are five options: New Post, View Blog, and Manage Posts, Settings, Layout. Each of these will be covered in more detail below.

Note, there are two parts to your blog, the front door or part that everyone can see and the back door or Dashboard that allows you to change, update and work with your blog.

I want to make a post!

Click on ‘New post’ from your Blogger dashboard.

You’ll go to the post editor where you can enter a title for this post and then the text of the post. If you would like to copy and paste text from Word you may do so.

Posting this way is complex, is there an easier way?

Yes, you can also email a post directly from Firstclass. You’ll have a special email address for this purpose.

Email posting is simple and fast. The subject of your email is the title of your post. Links you insert into Firstclass will show up as links in Blogger but you can’t add pictures this way.

Let Hans know if you are interested in this option.

How do I comment on a post?

To contribute to the dialog in a blog you can comment on a post. While viewing your blog click the comment link at the bottom of a post. You will be prompted to type in your comment, complete a word verification to avoid spam and choose how you will sign your post.

Students should always sign their posts with their first name and last initial only.

How do I add a picture to a post?

Blogger has a whole tutorial on this question. Check it out here. Basically in the post editor click the photo icon and you will be prompted to find a picture in your computer and choose how it will be set into the post.

How do add links to my blog?

If you would like to point your students to some resources on the web you can create a link list in the sidebar of your blog. To do this go to your Dashboard and select Layout.

You will see the layout of your blog in block form with the text, “Add Gadget” listed in the locations where it is possible to add a new element to your blog.

How do I add text to the title of my blog?

Choose Settings from the Dashboard of your blog. Writing in the description box of this page will appear in the title section of your site. Write anything you would like (500 characters max) and choose save from the bottom of the page.

Select the location where you would like to add a link list and click “Add Page Element.”

From the menu that appears select link list and add the links you would like to include. Choose save to exit.

You will be able to return to this list to add links in the future.

How do I change the way my blog looks?

There are two main ways to do this, by selecting a new template and by arranging your page elements.

To arrange your page elements follow the steps above to add a link list, but instead of clicking “Add Gadget” simply drag and drop the page elements in your browser to the location you would like them.

To use a different template, select Manage Layout from your Dashboard and pick Choose New Template from the top of the screen. Page elements you may have added previously will transfer over to your new template.

Advanced Blogging

How do I add a video to my blog?

To do this you will have to use Youtube, a free service. Create a movie and save it as a Quicktime file smaller than 100 meg. Create a Youtube account and upload a video. It will take a few minutes for your movie to become available. Then you can post a link to your movie or embed it in a post. See the next question for information about links.

To embed a video create a new post on Blogger and click the ‘edit html’ tab. Copy and paste the html from Youtube here, save and republish.

I’m concerned I might have inappropriate comments on my blog.

All the JUA blogs have word verification active. This means when you post you have to look at a picture of some weird letters and then type them in. This ensures that only real people are posting comments. Sometimes though, our own students or other people might post inappropriate comments, to make sure this doesn’t happen all comments are sent to the JUA folder in Firstclass. You can check that folder to see if any inappropriate comments are coming up on your blog or others. Comments we don’t like can be deleted.

How many people are looking at my blog?

Last year we had more than 3000 visitors to the main JUA portal alone. This year we’ve installed tracking software on all of the blogs. If you would like to know your traffic please let me know!

Links for more info

Blogger Help