What is it?
A weblog, or "blog", is really just a website. Weblogs cover as many different topics, and express as many opinions, as there are people writing them. Some blogs are highly influential, some have enormous readership, some are university course websites, while others are mainly intended for a close circle of family and friends. It is common for people to write blogs to describe their work, their hobbies, their pets, social and political issues, or news and current events. And while blogs are typically the work of one individual, blogs combining contributions of several people, ‘group blogs’, are also popular.
UBC Blogs is an installation of WordPress - “a state-of-the-art semantic personal publishing platform.” UBC Blogs is an enterprise level weblogging environment designed to provide an individual or group webspace for instructors and students.
UBC Blogs now includes social networking features to enable people with similar interests to connect and communicate. These features allow users to create profiles, join groups and connect with friends and colleagues. UBC Blogs can be used to build a course website, allow group authoring on a blog, provide peer review (editing with comments) of authored content, provide class webspace development (adding annotated links/building a shared resource for a class), and provide a personal portfolio for students, faculty and staff (upload media - slides, video, images of your artwork).
UBC Blogs is on WordPress 3.3.2. Watch the video below to learn about the new features:
Where Can I get a Blog or Webspace?
Uses and Benefits
...blogs and wikis have been applied in hundreds of instances for a wide array of teaching and learning applications. Professors use blogs to make big classes feel smaller by sharing resources and news, and allow students a quick means of offering feedback or questions. Graduate students use these spaces to document research processes and to connect with peer communities from around the world. Course blogs give students a unique, personalized platform for finding their own voice and sharing it...The blog is essentially a parallel conversation to the one held in-class, facilitating tangential inquiries, commentaries and responses in a way that not only increases the calibre of class discussions, but actively contributes to an open, web-based intellectual community. - Matthew Blunderfield, Science Fiction and the City 
Blogging allows you to share your thoughts, views, ideas, observations and learnings via an online journal of sorts. Most blogging applications allow you to upload your own (or other shared) media files. An important feature of blogging is that (through reader comments) it allows you to build a community of people who are interested in what you write and you want you to read what they write. Blogs can come in many flavors and have many uses beyond the single author, journal type blog. It may look like a website or a portfolio. It may include many authors or just one. It can be about text or just images.
Why would I choose a Blog?
- No use of HTML editors (or even knowledge of HTML) is required.
- A blog is basically an easily updated web page.
- It gets as simple as maintaining an email account.
- You can customize the look and feel of your blog space.
- Multiple authors/readers can contribute to content.
- Visitors can engage with other readers and your content through comments.
- Course website (alternative to WebCT Vista or Connect)
- group authoring on a blog
- peer review/editing with comments
- class webspace development - adding annotated links/building a shared resource for a class.
- personal portfolio - upload media (e.g. slides, video, images of you artwork)
- connect with others in the university community to share thoughts and resources
Currently, UBC is using weblogs:
- as personal logs/journals to keep track of work/learning activities
- as digital photo albums
- as potential e-portfolio tools
- as course web pages, encouraging discussion and collaboration
- as private management and communication tools for large campus groups, administrative teams, and communities of practice
- to easily update online newsletters
- to keep a collection of useful, searchable links
- as a social networking site
Visit some of these examples:
Student and Faculty Blogs at UBC-V:
- Dean Giustini, Biomedical Librarian, UBC Biomedical Branch Library (http://blogs.ubc.ca/dean/)
- Julian Dierkes, Assistant Professor, Institute of Asian Research (http://blogs.ubc.ca/jukupedia/)
- Roselynn Verwoord, Evaluation and Research Coordinator, CTLT (http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec565rverwoor/)
- Joanne Fox, Instructor, Advanced Molecular Biology Laboratory (http://www.joannealisonfox.com/blog/)
Student Directed Seminars:
- ASTU 400B: Books on Trial – Modernism, Aesthetics, and Obscenity (http://blogs.ubc.ca/booksontrial/)
- ASTU 400: United Nations & Diplomacy (http://blogs.ubc.ca/astu400e2010/)
- ASTU 400D: Perspectives on Peace: An Examination of Post-Conflict Societies (http://blogs.ubc.ca/sdspostconflict/)
- ASTU 400D: Science Fiction and the City (http://blogs.ubc.ca/sciencefictionandthecity/)
- ETEC 522: Ventures in Learning Technologies (http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec522sept11/)
- ENGL 112: Strategies for University Writing (http://blogs.ubc.ca/english112/)
- PHAR 330: Genomics and Personalized Medicine (http://blogs.ubc.ca/phar330/)
- PSYC 320: Psychology of Gender (http://blogs.ubc.ca/ubcpsycgender/)
- SCIE 300: Communicating Science (http://blogs.ubc.ca/communicatingscience2010W200/)
Worldwide Examples of Wordpress sites
- Speakeasy - Wall Street Journal (http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/)
- University of Mary Washington (http://www.umw.edu/)
- New York Times Blogs (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/blogs/directory.html)
- City University of New York Academic Commons (http://commons.gc.cuny.edu/)
Get a UBC Blogs Account
- Go to https://blogs.ubc.ca/ (bookmark this for the future!) >> click on the LOGIN button and enter your CWL information.
- The “Get your own UBC Blogs account” screen appears
- Enter a Username (only the lowercase letters a-z and numbers allowed), Email address, and Display Name
- Agree to to the terms: "I have read and agree to the terms of service"
- Select "Gimme a Site" and click the NEXT button
Create a Blog!
- Choose a Site Name and Site Title.
- Note: The Site Name will become part of your URL and cannot be changed.
- Select the Privacy option you are comfortable with
- Click the SIGNUP button at the bottom of the page
Get Some Help
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you need assistance.
Regular support clinics are available for people using UBC Blogs. They are currently held every Monday and Thursday from 1:00PM - 3:00PM at the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.
- WordPress video tutorials on WordPress TV
- WordPress written tutorials from WordPress.org
- WordPress video introducing BuddyPress features
- Student Toolkits: Blogs - http://wiki.ubc.ca/Documentation:Student_Toolkit/Blogs
- CTLT Planning Your Website
- UBC Blogs FAQ: http://wiki.ubc.ca/UBC_Blogs_FAQ
- UBC Blogs support email: email@example.com
- UBC Blogs WordPress Basics
- UBC Blogs list of WordPress videos: http://wiki.ubc.ca/Documentation:WordPress_Basics/Video_Resources
- Write an About page to inform visitors immediately what your site/blog is about and who are as an author.
- Use tags and categories wisely as they can help you and visitors to see the different you write about.
- Check your privacy settings and think about which one are you most comfortable with.
- Getting an RSS feed for a tag, category or author:
There are several different ways in which you can use WordPress for your course.
See the Examples section of the toolkit to give you an idea on how others have used blogs for their teaching.
Keep your teaching goals in mind throughout the whole process and think about using the SECTIONS framework to help you evaluate your choices.
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org identifying yourself as an instructor and you can get all the options explained to you.
5 questions to ask yourself before you create your blog
- Q: Do I have a topic that is clear, focused, and interesting to me?
- A: Click here for a few tips to help you choose a topic for your blog.
- Q: Is my writing voice effectively portraying the feel and look I want my blog to have?
- A: Click here for tips on how to develop your unique blogging voice.
- Q: Am I protecting my private information, while ensuring there are ways to contact and interact with me?
- A: Visit UBC's Digital Tattoo to find out more about protecting your privacy and preserving your online integrity.
- Q: Have I set a realistic standard for the frequency I will update my blog to ensure I do not disappoint the people following my blog?
- A: Click here for are a few tips on how to not break your commitment to your readers.
- Q: Have I effectively networked my blog with other bloggers to facilitate diverse conversation and feedback for my blog posts?
- A: Click here for a few tips to take your blog to the next level by connecting with more readers.