Unit 1: Find and follow blogs

Task 3: Subscribe to other blogs.
Now that you have set up your own blog, you can also begin to access the blogs of other educators. This will include the blogs of other PLN participants, so you keep up to date with how other people are feeling about the program.
Access the Vic PLN Readings Google bundle and commit to reading a number of blogs that you find manageable. (All you need to do is click on the ‘Subscribe’ link on this blog’s front page and sign up for a Google account if you don’t already have one. Have a browse at the blogs included. Some of them won’t appeal to you and there are quite a number of them there. A suggestion is to read a few posts from each blog and if they don’t apply to your interests or there are just too many, click on the ‘unsubscribe’ button. You are welcome to customise your own reading lists.) For more information, see this short video on how Google Reader works.

The concept

One of the constant complaints voiced by many people is that there’s simply too much information available – we can’t keep up with it all. Sound familiar?

In this course, we’ll focus on ways of filtering and sourcing information relevant to us and our own professional development. We’re about to show you one simple way to do that.

You can choose to follow or subscribe to updates from many websites and blogs. If you choose carefully, you will find that you can stream information from policy makers, journalists, industry experts, colleagues and media outlets – and choose the type of news you want to read, without having to move from one to the other all the time.

You might subscribe to a “feed” of news stories from the ABC or book reviews from The Guardian or blogs written by other educators or librarians. There are literally millions to choose from, and you’ll soon find that you are able to subscribe to many websites that you read now, or would like to keep an eye on.

You create your own information stream, into which you dip in and out when you have time.

But a word of warning: it’s tempting to add lots and lots of sources to your information stream. If you find that’s still too many, do a little pruning now and then. Just as in so many aspects of life, regular housekeeping is required to keep our information stream in good shape – and not driving us mad with drivel or irrelevant noise.

The task

As part of this course, you’ll set up your own blog, which you’ll use to record your reflections about the PLN.  Setting up your own blog is one of the easiest ways to publish your thoughts on the web. In fact, this very website you are reading now is a blog.

To prepare you for starting your own blog, we’re going to look at how to find great blogs about teaching and learning. One of our favourite blogs is called Bright Ideas, which regularly updates with posts about technologies and trends in teaching and learning. Many of the posts have been written by former participants in the Victorian PLN. Have a look at the Bright Ideas blog now and read a couple of the recent posts.

You can subscribe to your favourite blogs, so you’ll be updated whenever a new post is made. You can do this in a few ways – via email subscription or an online service.

This subscription service is known as RSS (Really simple syndication) and often a blog will include an RSS icon that you can click on to subscribe to the site. The icon usually looks like this:

One of the services that is included with your Google account is Google Reader, which lets you subscribe to a number of blogs and then displays all of the new posts from your favourite blogs in one place.  For this task, we’re going to set up Google Reader and subscribe to some great blogs. Later on you’ll be able to use Google Reader to subscribe to the blogs being written by your fellow PLN participants.

Let’s begin by watching this short video about

 

Now we’re going to subscribe to some blogs. Follow these steps or watch the video below to get started with Google Reader :

  • Visit the Google Reader page
  • Sign in using the Google account you created in the last task (you might not need to do this if you’ve already signed in before)
  • The first step will be to add a subscription. Let’s start by subscribing to the Bright Ideas blog. In Google Reader, click on the Subscribe button on the left side of the screen. A box will drop down allowing you to enter the name or address of the blog that you want to follow. In this box, type or paste http://slav.global2.vic.edu.au/ and then click Add.
  • Bright Ideas should now appear in the list under Subscriptions. In the main window you’ll see some of the posts from the blog. You can read these articles from within Google Reader, or click on the article heading to visit the actual site.
It’s that simple. Now, when you want to keep an eye on your favourite news sites or blogs, you have them all in one spot. 

We’ve also included links to some other blogs we follow. You’ll see them under the heading Great Blogs on the right hand side of this page – have a look through and add some of these blogs to your subscriptions as well. You can always take them out again later if you don’t want to follow them.

Here’s a brief screencast which will show you how to sign in, add subscriptions and organise folders in Google Reader.

 

Feel free to share the address of any other great blogs you find in our Edmodo classroom.

OK, so now you’ve completed the first tasks of the PLN, and you’ve already used a few free web tools (Google maps and Reader) you can also use with students in your school or in your ongoing professional development. Pretty painless so far, right?

You’re well on your way. Next you’ll create a simple blog to use as your course journal.

Now you can go to the next task: All about blogs

Or go back to Unit 1 overview.