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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Student Blogging Activities That Don't Rely On Text

When we think about blogging we often think about writing. But the great thing about blogging is that it doesn’t have to be limited to written text. In fact, publishing podcasts or publishing short videos on a YouTube channel can be considered blogging too. Creating and publishing infographics and or interactive images is another form of blogging that isn’t completely reliant on text.

As you design blogging assignments for students consider that text may not always be the best medium to have students use to express ideas and share information. For the student who is trying to quickly convey an idea or share research that he or she compiled, posting an infographic or a video presentation might be a better method of sharing than writing a long passage of text and hoping that readers make it all way through to the end. In his book, Cool Infographics, Randy Krum stresses the idea of using infographics as tools for telling stories. Mr. Krum asserts that an central story of a well-designed infographic can be processed by viewers in five to ten seconds.

A short list of tools for creating blog posts that don’t rely on text.
The final product generated through these tools can be embedded into blog posts.

Infogram - Infogr.am is an online tool for creating interactive charts, graphs, and infographics. There are four basic chart types that you can create on Infogr.am; bar, pie, line, and matrix. Each chart type can be edited to use any spreadsheet information that you want to upload to your Infogr.am account. The information in that spreadsheet will be displayed in your customized chart. When you place your cursor over your completed chart the spreadsheet information will appear in small pop-up window. Your Infogr.am charts can be embedded into your blog, website, or wiki.

Thinglink - ThingLink is a free tool for creating interactive images. To create an interactive image upload an image from your computer to your ThingLink account. After uploading the image you can add pins to the image. Each pin that you add to your image can include a video clip, a link to another site, a SoundCloud recording, a block of text, or another image. You can make your images collaborative by allowing others to add pins to the image. Images can be embedded into blog posts for students to view and or add their own pins. A few of the ways that I’ve seen ThingLink used by teachers is to have students add multimedia labels to diagrams of cells, to label geographic features, and to label historical images like that of the signing of the declaration of independence.

YouTube
- You could have students use the YouTube mobile apps on their Android or iOS devices to record short videos to use in their blog posts. Your students could also simply go to the YouTube editor and record a video with the webcams built into their Chromebooks or other laptop computers. If your students are under 13 you can have them share videos with you without making them public by using the method outlined here.

SoundCloud - SoundCloud is a great tool for creating short audio recordings. Those recordings can be embedded into blog posts. The feature of SoundCloud that makes it worth using instead of just embedding a recording from another service is that listeners can tie their comments to an exact moment in a SoundCloud recording. This means that if something twelve seconds into the recording triggers a thought in a students’ mind she can tie that comment to that exact moment. I’ve seen SoundCloud used by world languages teachers who have students make short recordings and post them on a classroom blog. The teacher then used the comment tool to give feedback to students.

Topics like this one and many more will be covered in depth in my PracticalEdTech.com webinar, Blogs and Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders.

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