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The Blog Tool in D2L Brightspace – under utilized?

October 16, 2016

Perhaps you’ve seen the Blog tool under the Communications drop down menu in D2L or maybe you are already familiar with it and just want extend your course’s impact on candidates? Wherever you fall on the Blogging continuum, this Blog post will introduce ETFO AQ instructors and course candidates to setting up, writing, sharing and subscribing to Blogs using D2L’s built-in blogging tool.

Why Blog as part of an AQ course?

At Innovate 2014, George Couros, our Keynote speaker, showed us his Blog and demonstrated how it was his “digital hub.” In a recent Blog post, George described to a Principal how important Blogging was to daily reflection on work and learning. “Blogging is your Job!” he explained to the Prinicpal, echoing the words of John Dewey, who stated that “We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.” As lead learners, it’s important to model reflection to others, whether that be our staff, our school colleagues, our students, candidates, even ourselves. Blogging is one form of regular reflection.

Some ETFO AQ Courses currently make use of the Blog tool. In the IICT Part 2 Course, candidates must set up a Blog and commence blogging by writing a reflection on another of George Couros’ blog posts, one in which he states “Reflection is part of your work.” IICT2 candidates then Blog throughout the course in a series of reflection pieces. How could this be a part of your course? First, you need to set up your own Blog in D2L.

How to get set up with the D2L Brightspace Blog Tool

How can we get set up with a Blog and get started? Below you’ll find the ncessary steps to get yourself, and your course candidates set up using the built in D2L Blog tool, and some suggestions for how to get your course candidates reflecting.

This Video from D2L Brightspace provides a good introduction to the Blog Tool. It shows how to set up, post, set the visibility of posts, add comments, and publish blog posts, as well as set up a Blog Watch of people whose Blogs you wish to read e.g. the candidates in your course.

As Instructors, in order to post to your own Blog, you will need to click “View as Candidate” under your name at the top right of any screen. When you start using your Blog, it’s a good idea to open the Blog Settings gear and click on the checkboxes that make your Blog visible to others. You can turn off commenting, but the point of a Blog is to be open and transparent about your own learning so checking “Allow comments by default” is a good choice in order to initiate feedback. “Make entries public by default” allows all readers within D2L to see your post, and checking “Allow blog to be read by anyone” makes your Blog visible beyond D2L to a wider audience, if you choose to share the URL Permalink or the feed of your Blog.

See the Blog Settings graphic below. After clicking the Blog link in the Communications Dropdown menu, click the Settings Gear near the top right of the screen.

blog-settings

Once you are set up, all you need to do is click on New Entry and start writing! Start with a descriptive title and go from there. The challenge comes with knowing what to write about, but gets easier if you think about your Blog as a reflection space where you record your thoughts about what you are learning from teaching your course, taking a course, or any other ideas that pop in your head worth recording! What if your Course Blog became the place where you summarized the week’s learning in your course’s Discussion Forums? Or maybe the summary for each LE? Think about a Blog as metadata about your own personal learning, what you are thinking about as you learn, what your candidates are sharing in the forums. The possibilities are endless.

One of the ways Blogs are ranked on Google is by how often they link to other Blogs, so link your writing to documents or texts that relate to your learning. Share websites that may be useful or relevant. Use the editing tools to add these links, or insert imagery, embed videos, and add text formatting that will make your Blog more interesting, more readable. When you’re done, click Save! You are done. For now. You can edit it again later if you wish or add more content, or correct anything, even after it’s published. If comments appear, you will get a notification and respond if necessary.

Let me know, in the comments below, via email or Twitter if you have any questions about setting up your D2L Blogs, Blogging as part of a course, other Blog platforms to consider or how to make use of Blogging as part of your own Professional Development.

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