The word “blog” is a portmanteau of “web” and “log.” Justin Hall is credited with creating the first blog in 1994 (Vance, 2012). Since then, blogs have exploded in popularity, with many millions of blogs in existence today (Vance, 2012). Blogs are often used for personal reflection, with so-called “mommy blogs” comprising a large number of blogs (Rusak, 2009). But blogs are being used in many other arenas as well. I will focus on the use of blogs for education.
Blogs in Education
The use of blogs in education most often involves asking students to write a blog to reflect on their learning or showcase their work. For example, Cameron (2012) examined a case where students in an undergraduate economics class were assigned to write blogs applying economic theory to real-world events. This use of blogs in education can help students engage in critical thinking and analysis (Hourigan & Murray, 2010), and can also help students to improve their writing skills (Tyagi, 2012). While these types of skills are important in a corporate environment, it is not typically the job of a corporate training team to teach these skills. Rather, they would send the employee to a university to obtain these skills.
Blogs in Corporate Training
The aims of a corporate training team is to teach the knowledge and skills that will enable an employee to do their job. Depending on the business, there might be a situation where asking employees to write a blog for their own personal development would be appropriate. More likely, corporate employees might be tasked with writing a blog in order to educate and inform the company’s clients (Cho & Huh, 2010). Given the differences between a university environment and a corporate environment, I believe that the appropriate use of blogs within corporate training groups is to produce blogs for consumption by their clients, whether those clients are employees within their own company or external customers. Within my own corporate training team, which is external client facing, we do not currently offer blogs. However, we are starting to talk about it and I believe a good use of blogs would be to deliver information to our clients, such as information about hot or trending topics that are related to the content or our training. Clients could be required to read a blog post as part of a formal training event, but blogs provided by the corporation could also be available for client’s informal learning.
Blog Tools – WordPress
Many tools for creating blogs are available. The one I have chosen to use for the blog you are reading right now is WordPress. WordPress comes in two primary flavors. You can use WordPress.com, which is free, doesn’t require hosting, and is appropriate for a simple blog, or WordPress.org, from which you can download software to a web server and develop pretty much any kind of website you want (Davies & Wiley, 2014). A small client training team, such as the one I’m a part of, might use WordPress.com, or a similar tool, in the first attempts at offering a blog to their clients. However, as their use grew and they became more sophisticated in the blog and other content offerings, they might want to use WordPress.org.
The following steps explain how to start a blog on WordPress.com:
- Go to https://wordpress.com. The welcome page gives you options for starting a full website or a blog.
- If you just want to create a blog, click on Start a Blog.
- Click the Get Started button.
- Click on the general category for your new blog.
- Click on the layout that you want for your homepage.
- Select a theme. The theme supplies images and other features for your blog. You can choose one of the available themes listed at this point or click the SKIP FOR NOW link at the bottom of the page to put off selecting a theme until later. A variety of free themes, as well as themes available for purchase, are available once you have completed initial blog creation.
- Enter a domain for your blog. This will become the first part of your URL. For example, if you enter “myblog,” the URL of your blog would be “https://myblog.wordpress.com. If the domain you enter is not available, WordPress lists variations on the domain you entered that are available.
- Select the plan that you want.
- The username defaults to the domain you selected in a previous step, but you can change it here if you want. Enter your email address and password and click on Create My Account.
- Go to your email and view the email that WordPress has sent you.
- Click the Confirm Now button in the email to confirm your email address and activate your account.
- You are brought to a login page. Enter the username or email and password that you entered in step 9 above, and click Log In.
- You can click the Edit button to start writing your first blog post right away.
- You can use the options on the left to make other changes to your blog.
- Click Site Title to change the title of your blog.
- Click the Add button next to Blog Posts to add new blog posts.
- Click the Add button next to pages to add new pages on your blog.
- Click Customize to select a different theme than you chose initially, or to choose a theme if you did not choose one initially.
Learn More about WordPress
The steps I have provided above will just get you started with a WordPress website. You can do many more things to customize and develop your blog on WordPress. To find out more about WordPress, I recommend the following sources:
- WordPress offers online support. You might start with their list of 5 setup steps, which you can find at https://en.support.wordpress.com/five-step-blog-setup/.
- Many free tutorials are available on the internet to help you start and customize your WordPress blog, such as http://www.theblogstarter.com/.
- If you want to go deeper and build a WordPress.org site, you might try a book such as the WordPress: Beginner to Pro Guide – How to Easily Build a Professional Looking Website or Blog: (WordPress 2016 Guide) by Timothy Short. This book is available for purchase on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wordpress-Beginner-Professional-Looking-WordPress-ebook/dp/B01LVYQHAS/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1477753304&sr=8-2&keywords=wordpress.
Cameron, M. P. (2012). ‘Economics with training wheels’: Using blogs in teaching and assessing introductory economics. Journal of Economic Education, 43(4), 397-407. doi:10.1080/00220485.2012.714316
Cho, S., & Huh, J. (2010). Content analysis of corporate blogs as a relationship management tool. Corporate Communications, 15(1), 30-48. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/13563281011016822
Davies, J. & Wiley, S. (2014). WordPress Made Super Simple [Kindle Version]. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/WordPress-Made-Super-Simple-Professional-ebook/dp/B00AUYYVZQ/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1476329001&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=wordpress+made+super+simiple.
Hourigan, T., & Murray, L. (2010). Investigating the emerging generic features of the blog writing task across three discrete learner groups at a higher education institution. Educational Media International, 47(2), 83-101.
Rusak, G. (2009). Mommy blogs grow up. KidScreen, 55. Retrieved from https://csuglobal.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.csuglobal.idm.oclc.org/docview/225312229?accountid=38569
Tyagi, S. (2012). Adoption of web 2.0 technology in higher education: A Case study of universities in National Capital Region, India. International Journal of Education and Development Using Information and Communication Technology, 8(2), 28-43.
Vance, L. K. (2012). Do students want web 2.0? An investigation into student instructional preferences. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 47(4), 481-493.