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incsub - online community projects and publications » Blog Archive » Edublogs are go!

Edublogs are go!

[Updated to include latest ‘Blogs @’ services as of 5th June]

This is a draft of an article I’m submitting to the web-based version of the new magazine elearning. It’s half story, half link-fest and mostly focused on being short enough to easily digest, click off from in one quick scan.

What I’m wondering is whether I’ve missed anyone / thing out that I shouldn’t have (not difficult!) and if you think I’m taking the right tack in the last few paras… or if they could have a different ‘theme’…. all comments much appreciated!

(oh, and I wanted to get up and running for this but only a miracle in time management will make that happen!)

Edublogs are go!

Back in July 2003 there was a group called the Educational Blogging Network, there was Schoolblogs and KairosNews, there was EdBlogger 2003, De Anza College and Middlebury CET, there were pioneers like Will Richardson, Jay Cross, Anne Davis, Ray Schroeder, Maish Nichani, Charlie Lowe, Stephen Downes, Jenny Levine, Jim Flowers, Albert Delgado, David Carter-Tod, Sebastian Fiedler, Patrick Delaney, Sarah Lohnes, Alan Levine, Sebastian Paquet, Lilia Efimova, Mario Asselin, Pam Pritchard and many many more.

The idea of using blogs in education was getting knocked about a bit, people were playing with Userland’s Manila (climaxing in the Weblogs @ Harvard project), thinking about the impact of blogs in education and, of course, mixing this in with their discipline, professional experience and lives. As blogs are wont to do.

Around 2004, however, something started to happen. Stephen Downes identified it in Educational Blogging as ‘a trend that is sweeping the world of online learning: the use of weblogs to support learning’ and it was coming from both ways. By 2005, students had started to blog their everyday experiences, the teen focused LiveJournal boasting some 5 million users alone, Blogger 8 million, Microsoft 4.5 and educators and academics starting to recognise the power of sharing, reflecting and, discussing and recreating their own online space.

At around the same time academia started to realise the value in sharing and discussing issues through the web. The success of Crooked Timber and the emerging literature citing and examining weblogs as research sources and tools demonstrated that it was far from just the kids who were blogging.

Which brings us to now, where ‘weblogs @’ programs are coming up strong. There’s weblogs@upei, UThink: Blogs at the University Libraries,, Warwick Blogs, Blogs @ Case, weblogs at Dartmouth, weblogs at usc, Blogs@SI, Blogs@USF, Blogs @ Rice, the Friends World Program East Asia Center,, Educause Community Blog Services and many marketing departments sharing authentic blogs from learners including Taylor, UW-L and Eller (I’m not going to link to the fake, non-blog, ones!) 2004 even saw the inaugral Edublog Awards.

So, where too from here? There are many questions that are going to start being asked about open versus closed environments, about the exact role that blogs might play in learning, about where they sit in relation to portfolios and, perhaps most significantly, what the dominating Courseware Management Systems, WebCT and Blackboard, are going to do as demand for blogging grows.

As learners and academics start to speak to each other and the world on the web, one thing that is becoming increasingly clear is that they are doing it with open source platforms such as WordPress and Drupal together with free-to-use platforms like Blogger, LiveJournal or Xanga. Throughout higher education, however, learning and courseware management systems are almost entirely proprietary with enormously attractive returns to the suppliers of these systems.

Consequently there are two types of openness that blogging might bring to online education and elearning. The first being a movement towards openness, towards expression in the pubic arena with a move away from the cocoon of the discussion board and highly authenticated environment. The next is that in this move there is every indication that institutions might forgo the usual ‘all-in-one’ solutions and explore the new edublogging world through established, mature and open source technologies. And once organisations realise they can simply do that, quite a change could start to happen.

Even if there is no seismic shift, however, one thing is undeniable. Edublogging is taking hold and with it a shift in online communication is coming that will change the way we teach and learn. Fasten your seatbelts and enjoy the ride.

9 Responses to “Edublogs are go!”

  1. ismael Says:

    I guess you could close your article by mentioning the Edublog Awards! :)

  2. David Carter-Tod Says:

    One “d” and a hyphen, please! :-)

    There are lots of deserving pioneers. I think of the pioneering days as being in 2000, 2001, but I guess I’m an old fogey. I do think both DeAnza ( and Middlebury ( colleges deserve a mention. Both were active pioneers before 2003.


  3. James Says:

    Thanks guys, you’re quite right on all accounts (as are you ismael… duh, forget the awards we hosted, double duh :o) Will edit this arvo.

  4. Doug Symington Says:

    I’ve had a learning diary that I’ve kept as a online part-time graduate (M.Ed.) student for the last three + yrs on blogger. (

    In my most recent course at OISE/UT our class began using Movable Type blogs half-way through the semester which complemented the WebKF “courseware management system” we’d used from the beginning of the course.

    The blogs for our course, among other researchers at OISE/UT, are aggregated here:

  5. James Says:

    Thanks Doug, looks good, heads up on that is much appreciated :o)

  6. Lorcan Dempsey's weblog Says:

    University hosted blogs

    Jeremy Smith at Case reviews some university-managed blog hosting services.I spent some time this evening hunting around for other Universities that offer blog hosting services. I just wanted to check out the other digs and see how Blog@Case, in its cu…

  7. Josie Fraser Says:

    James, can you not bang this up over at Wikipedia now? The entry over there at the mo is rubbish…

  8. James Says:

    Not a bad idea… maybe after Christmas though (and in that orrible encyclopedic style) :)

  9. Andy Pulman Edublog » Where did educational Blogging originate? (2) Says:

    […] […]