About Blogging : For Teachers – Part 2 of 10


What is a blog?

Welcome to my 10-part online series About Blogging : An Introduction for Teachers. It is based on the course I created and delivered in 2014 and includes the notes and resources I made available to the course attendees. Twice a month I post a section of the course on the web site. At the end of the course, I will make available the PowerPoint presentation including the notes used and various resources for members of the Tech Teachers web site.



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Part 2 : How Does One Create a Blog?

There are two choices for the teacher here. Paid and free. Each have their own pros and cons. Below I cover both options. For this course, I will focus on creating a FREE blog so that anyone going through this course can put into practice the principles we will cover together.

Creating a Self-hosted (paid-for) Blog
To start blogging properly with the most features available to you, it is preferable to select the paid route.

You will require the following:

A Domain Name
www.LifeScienceRocks.co.za. Choose a name that is easy to remember and find. Also use something that is relevant to your subject. A domain name can be registered with almost any ISP. I would recommend registering via the web host company you intend to use.

Web Host
A company that will be able to host your pages. I use Afrihost. I am on the Silver Pro package with the following specs:

Make sure that you have PHP enabled and access to at least one MySQL database with phpMyAdmin access to the database. This is normally provided via a backend/control panel access. The cheaper hosting packages do not normally include databases or SQL features.

Web Space
Your web host will have options available, you don’t need much space though. I recommend starting with a 100 – 200MB. The more the better though if you want to be able to store files. My current disk usage is about 4GB’s.

PHP and SQL knowledge
It really helps having some PHP knowledge and also finding your away around a SQL database using phpMyAdmin. That said, it’s not essential for the teacher to have that knowledge. It just means that, if something goes very wrong, you can fix issues quickly and efficiently without having to rely on tech support to eventually getting around to helping you! But please do follow this piece of advice : “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

Money
The bottom line is money! Select a web host that will cost you the least without compromising on service and site hosting stability. Research a few web hosting providers and register with one. You can expect to pay anything from R50 to R500 a month, depending on what options of hosting you choose. Your costs will be as follows:

  • Domain name registration
  • Setup fee with your web host
  • Monthly hosting fees
  • Annual domain name renewal

Also take into account your own computer/internet access costs.

Creating a Blog for Free

Well, free is always nice BUT you do get what you pay for! Although one can have a free blog, you must be aware of the implications thereof. It is actually VERY easy to get a free blog up and running in minutes!

You will require:

Blog Service Provider Account
Depending on the service you’ve chosen (Blogger, WordPress, Livejournal etc.), you will be required to create an account with the Blog Service Provider. Most of the accounts are free to create. There are other paid-for options with extra features but free is what you want so free is what you’re going to get.

The rest of this course will focus on WordPress as the blogging platform. Why don’t you go sign up so long : https://signup.wordpress.com/signup/

Internet Connection
You need to be connected to the Internet. You will need to be connected to effect any changes made to your content as everything happens in the web browser’s interface and via a direct connection to the blog.

However, Microsoft also have a program called Live Writer which comes bundled with the Microsoft Windows Essentials package. It allows you to blog from your computer using the software and you can blog while offline and then sync when you are online. Not too bad! However, I will not be covering that in this course.

Web browser
Firefox-iconA decent web browser is required. I recommend Firefox or Chrome. Please don’t use IE….ever. It also helps to check that the site looks and works the way you intended. Perhaps use both browsers just to be sure that there are no major differences in the way the content is rendered.

Time!
Alarm-clock-iconThis is the one major requirement for anyone wanting to create and maintain a successful blog. Time…and lots of it! Later in the course I will show you how to schedule posts in advance and save yourself some time by creating a “buffer of time” so you don’t stress too much while creating content for your blog. Be prepared for some late nights as you sit and tap away at the keys creating what will be, hopeful, something of benefit for your peers, colleagues or students.

Also bear in mind the fact that a Blog Service Provider may reserve the right to own your content and to also place adverts on your posts/pages without your permission. You are using a free service so there will be some freedoms you may have to sacrifice.



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