Blogs (short for “Web logs”) enable an individual or group to easily post content online. The basic structure of a blog is chronological (blogs were originally created as Web-based journals) which makes it easy to post content that is time sensitive or requires regular updates. Blog software such as WordPress, the platform for the UMass Amherst blog service, provides additional features such as the ability to post single static Web pages, add an events calendar, and create forms.
Each individual on campus with a NetID can create a personal blog. Blogs can be used for noncommercial personal activities, or to promote an individual's academic work and ideas. Instructors and staff also have the ability to request additional subsidiary accounts, each of which can have its own blog.
Instructors and graduate students who are actively participating in online discourse involving their discipline can use a blog as a central location to post their ideas, links to their publication, and links to resources that they wish to share with others in their field. This activity can be particularly useful in disciplines where there are many amateurs (or even crackpots) posting about a topic. Having more academic experts on the topic available in the blogosphere can help contribute more carefully researched ideas to the online discourse.
Research projects and other efforts on campus that wish to promote their activities to a wider audience can do this easily using a blog. The blog can provide a central location for static information about the project and regular updates on its progress. Links to blog posts can be shared via e-mail or other social media (Twitter, Facebook) as a way to drive traffic to the blog and attention to the project.
Blogs are an easy way to post public information about a course. This can be information for students considering the class or basic information and announcements that don’t need to be restricted behind a password (such as for copyright or privacy reasons). It is possible to limit access to a blog to students in the class, but this requires extra work and is often easier done through an LMS such as Moodle.
Cautions About Blog-Based Course Sites
Because blogs are public, use caution when posting anything that you did not write or create yourself. Get permission before using someone else’s work. Alternatively, you can use public domain materials or link to library collections. FERPA restrictions can also apply to blogs (which are public), so notify students that anything that they post to a blog will be visible to the rest of the world.
IT's Blogs at UMass Amherst Resources Page
UMass Amherst Blogs Home Page
EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative's Seven Things You Should Know About Blogs
7 Things You Should Know About Blogs
Look for class blogs the UMass Amherst Blogs Directory: