blogger.jpg
The user interface for Blogger, one of the most popular blogging sites.

Blogging is a term used to refer to a form of networking on the Internet, through which people can evoke their thoughts and emotions. Often, a blog can be based solely upon a certain subject, or can be more generalized. Blogs also tend to follow a fairly regular schedule; traditionally, people update blogs daily.
There are many different blogging mediums, including Vlogs, a type of blog that uses videos in the place of text, or audio blogs, commonly known as podcasts.

Origins

The word “blog” is a shorn-down version of the word “weblog,” which implies daily use and record of the user’s opinions. The first use of the word “weblog” was by John Barger, from the weblog Robot Wisdom.
The actual concept of blogs originates with a paper written in 1995, by G. Raikundalia and M. Rees. The paper was titled “Exploiting the World-Wide Web for Electronic Meeting Document Analysis and Management.”

“A Web browser access to various meeting document information, such as minutes, tabled documents, reports and document indexes. Applications are being developed to take standard electronic meeting log files, postprocess them in a variety of ways, and generate a series of indexes and summary files. These files are formatted in HTML and exploit hyperlinks to the full in order to relate the different types of information.”

~Exploiting the World-Wide Web for Electronic Meeting Document Analysis and Management

At this time, however, Raikundalia & Rees’s paper did not specifically address the use of blogs as they are utilized today.
Another example of early weblogging is Justin Hall, who would go on to write the primeval website Justin’s Home Page, or Links to the Underground. This was truly one of the first examples of actually blogging and imbibing one’s own thoughts and emotions into a web page forum.

“Some days, before I go to bed, I think about my day, and how it meshed with my life, and I write a little about what learned me.”

~Justin Hall, Links to the Underground

However, blogging was still progressing slowly. In 1999, there were less than 25 weblogs in existence. Then, in August, Pyra Labs, today owned by Google, launched Blogger; a free service that made blogging mind-bogglingly simple, and universally available.
Following the release of Blogger, people, companies and small business worldwide inundated the Internet, each eager to create their own Blog, which leads to the popularity of Blogs today.

Teacher Use

More and more frequently, Blogs are being incorporated in the classroom. Administrations can see the increase in Blogging, and can understand that it is a free service.
A common method of use is for teachers and students to collaborate through blogs; that is to say, teachers will post their work on the blog and students will log on to collect it, and conversely turn in their homework through the same blog.
This is a popular method, because of the modern technology incorporated, but it can be difficult. Teachers are used to performing their function in a given way, to teach in class, to take notes, to give homework. To transition from that to a computer screen is a dramatic change. For one thing, there’s a greatly diminished teacher-student rapport, and it can be hard to accommodate for both of the participant’s needs, as must be done occasionally in a classroom. Also, some older teachers may have difficulties with the new interfaces, and may consequently be unable to post the work or criticism involved.
One of the heavy upsides of blogging for teachers is that blogging, a new-age Web 2.0 system, offers the opportunity to put material the students come up with out into the real world through means of the Internet. One of the best things about blogging is the comment system, and interaction with people outside, with their own opinions and theories, is a great way to stimulate thoughts and responses in a student. This prevents sheltered development of ideas and gives the student and teacher an understanding of all points in an issue.
Taking all this into account, using blogging in the classroom becomes an option strictly up to the teacher's judgment, and the administration accommodates for this.

Student Use

The students are the ones who will be actually using the blogging systems, so the whole setup is astronomically more important for them.
A passive benefit of student blogging is the gradual improvement in grammar. Any constant writing done daily would do this by itself, but with the supervision of a teacher and peers (who are prepared to offer criticism), it is obvious that grammar will improve. 47% of teenage bloggers write willingly out of school, against 33% who do not have blogs. 65% think that writing greatly contributes to success later in life, 53% of non-bloggers with the same opinion. So you see, blogging does contribute.
Due to the intrinsically low attention span of younger children, it could be very difficult to introduce such a system to them. They would react excitedly initially, but their attention would wane quickly. Thus, the situation becomes cumbersome and a pain.
Fortunately, ambitious teachers persist in finding a way around this problem; and, admittedly, some succeed in grand fashion. Morag McDonald, a teacher in the small village of Tighnabruaich, Scotland, uses teddy bear liaisons to video-conference with the children, complete with lines and motions. The children, enthralled, respond in kind, with a second teddy bear of their own, and in this way, the children are introduced to blogging in a way that is more fun for them.
Older children and teenagers typically have an easier time with blogging, being more in-tune with the technological world at their age. In high school and upper middle school, it is not an uncommon practice to have a class blog through which teachers and students correspond. In some Virtual High School (VHS) classes, blogging is the only form of communication between teacher and student.

My Reflection

My father used to be a writer for a magazine. Today he's too old to fulfill such a function, but he still writes--you guessed it--through blogging. Dad uses Blogger, of course, to publish his own blog, Quigley in Exile. He also uses the political site, The Hill, to publish his articles, where they are much argued. My father is 60-something years old.
I use this as an example that people of ALL ages can be more than eager to participate in blogging. Perhaps it's hereditary, but I really like the whole blogging scenario, too. In class, we used it a LOT, particularly in conjunction with the rubric our teacher handed out. In the rubric, we were mandated to publish a number of articles and pieces based on current news stories and the like, and blogs were the way to do that.
Also, we had to reflect weekly on the activities of the latest week, commenting on them with the pros and cons of the application we used, very similar to what I'm doing now. These posts were moderated on a special blog, known as "Digital Explorers." I enjoyed this portion of the week because it was very simple and straightforward to post on the aforementioned blog.

References

-"A short history of blogging." The Blog Herald. 28 May 2009 <http://www.blogherald.com/2005/03/06/a-short-history-of-blogging/>.

-"Talking Teddies - how to get young children blogging." Edublogs. 28 May 2009 <http://edu.blogs.com/edublogs/2006/03/talking_teddies.html>.

-Felix, Jeff. "Teen Writing Skills Improve with Blogging." Weblog post. Blogger. 2 May 2008. 10 June 2009 <http://suptfelix.blogspot.com/2008/05/teen-writing-skills-improve-with.html>.