In his book, "Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms" Will Richardson defines blogs, or web logs, as an "easily created, easily updateable Website that allows an author (or authors) to publish instantly to the Internet from any Internet connection." (pg. 17). Blogs are similar to personal journals, and can be like an open conversation around a certain topic or simply be a reflection of the author's thoughts. Now that creating a blog does not require knowledge of HTML, they are very easily created and customizable. A blogger (a person who writes a blog) can also include images, video, graphics, music, podcasts, and other multimedia applications to their blog.

A 2004 article in Educause by author Stephen Downes entitled "Educational Blogging" highlights how integral blogging has become in many classrooms as a means to support learning. Downes defines blogging as more than just an online diary. Instead, because blogs reflect the style, content, and links of the author, it is more like personal publishing. Educators have begun using blogs as a way to easily post assignments, due dates, and announcements. They can also include links that supplement what is being taught in the classroom, organize files and summarize classroom discussions. Finally, and probably one of the best uses for blogs is by having students create their own. Because blogs can be made visible to the Word Wide Web, students are writing for an authentic audience and receiving feedback in the form of comments. As one fifth grade student put it:

"Blogs give us a chance to communicate between us and motivate us to write more. When we publish on our blog, people from the entire world can respond
by using the comments link. This way, they can ask questions or simply tell us what they like. We can then know if people like what we write and this
indicate[s] to us what to do better. By reading these comments, we know our weaknesses and our talents. Blogging is an opportunity to exchange our
point of view with the rest of the world not just people in our immediate environment." (Downes, pg. 14).

There are risks and challenges inherent in having students using blogs. Educators need to ensure that students are fully aware of their school's acceptable use policy and make sure parents are aware and supportive of their child using blogs. Educators must also teach students how to post safely and responsibly. Students should never post personal information such as their full name, address, phone numbers, or any other identifiable information. Students must also be made aware that blogs are generally written from the viewpoint of the author and may not be factual.

Once those hurdles are cleared, there are several free blogging sites teachers can choose from. Below is a list of some of the more popular blogging platforms:

Why Blog?

Below is a list of education and ed-technology bloggers. Many of these blogs at some point have discussed how technology helps to differentiate their instruction, but you might have to look back at previous posts to find them. Feel free to add your own favorites:

Examples of Student Blogs