Learning through blogging as part of a connectivist MOOC

Learning through blogging as part of a connectivist MOOC

I was asked to facilitate sessions on blogging for the Massive Open Online Course on Educational Technology (#ETMOOC).  You can read more about connectivist MOOC’s and #ETMOOC here.

I’ve written this post to help participants better understand the ideas I discussed in my session and to make it easier to access the resources I recommend.

You’ll find the recordings to the session here:

  1. Complete list of archived ETMOOC Blackboard Collaborate Sessions
  2. Introduction to Blogging – Jan 17 incl. Sue Wyatt, Peggy George
  3. Introduction to Blogging (Director Cut) – repeat Jan 23 incl. Sue Wyatt, Alan Levine, Penny Bentley
Introduction to blogging session was repeated and there are differences between the two versions.

Purpose of this session

My session was meant to be an Introduction to blogging.

I’ve spent the week interacting with #ETMOOC participants through their blogs,  Google+ community and through the ETMOOC Twitter hashtag to identify what they really needed to know.

All participants have been ask to participate through their own blogs.  Quite a few participants are new to blogging and it’s really hard to appreciate how you might learn through blogging as part of a connectivist MOOC if you’ve never blogged before.

So I’ve decided to focus my session on what they really need to know to get the most out of their blogging as part of #ETMOOC;  as opposed to a more traditional introduction to blogging session.

More of an intro to the pedagogical aspects of blogging as opposed to the technical.

Hopefully I’ve got the balance right –since I’m writing this post before the session –but if not this post should help them work through the concepts I covered (or wanted to cover).

And for those that haven’t interacted with me before —

My waking hours are mostly spent helping others use their blogs effectively with students or for themselves;  in all educational sectors around the World.

Getting started blogging info

Here’s where you’ll find our step-by-step series to help you get started if you are new to blogging:

  1. Kick Start your personal blogging
  2. Kick Start your blogging with students

Strongly recommend you take the time to work through our kick start your personal blogging.  It takes you through the mechanics of what new edubloggers often want to know, and need to know.

You’ll find a comprehensive review on how educators use blogs with students and the blog platforms they use (and why) here.

How you learn through blogging

It’s an easy trap to focus too much on publishing posts while failing to appreciate that reading other people’s posts and commenting on posts are a very important part of the learning process as a blogger.

Blogging is a constant cycle of:

  1. Evaluate
  2. Review
  3. Reflect
  4. Revise

The idea of reflective blogging is you’re evaluating, reviewing, reflecting, revising while reading other people’s posts, commenting on their posts, writing  your own posts and commenting back on comments made by others on your own blog.

By following this process you’re learning at a deeper level and differently from how you’ve learnt previously; and you’re doing it as part of a community.

How to quickly read participant’s posts

With a connectivist MOOC like #ETMOOC there are so many participants having so many conversations on their blogs,  Google+ community and through the ETMOOC Twitter hashtag that it can be both overloading and overwhelming.

Key is to find effective strategies that make reading time efficient.  

Making reading time efficient is really easy once you know how!

All you need to do is  use the ETMOOC blog hub feed in Google Reader as follows:

1.  Logging into your Google Reader account

Here’s my introduction to RSS and Google Reader if you’ve never used before.

2.  Click on Subscribe.

3.  Add this URL http://etmooc.org/hub/

For those using other types of RSS readers you will find the RSS feed at http://etmooc.org/hub/feed/

4.  Click Add.

Subscribe to the blog hub

Benefits of using the ETMOOC blog hub RSS are:

  1. It’s faster to quickly read recently updated posts.
  2. The full post is pulled into Google Reader, unless the blogger has used the Read More tag, so you can easily read the entire post inside Google Reader whereas only the post excerpt is display on the ETMOOC blog hub page.

The ETMOOC blog hub is amazing work and even better than chocolate – if that is possible.   Thanks Alan for making it happen!

You can submit your blog to the ETMOOC blog hub here.

PS personal rant!  

  • If you’re using the Read More tag or set your RSS feed to Summary and not full text — DON’T.
  • Reader like me hate excerpts because it slows our reading down and means we’re less likely to bother reading your post.

Bonus tip!

TabletsIt is faster to read the posts using a tablet than using Google Reader on your computer.

If you don’t have an iPad or an Android tablet it is worth having one.  Feel free to tell your partner that Sue Waters said I needed one — if that helps!  On my android tablet I use the Google Reader app and on my iPad I use Reeder.  I prefer reading on my android using the Google Reader app.

How to quickly comment on participant’s posts

Now you’re able to time effectively read other participant’s posts adding a comment to their post is as simple as just click on the post’s title to visit a post to add a comment.


  1. Commenting is as important, if not more important, than publishing posts.
  2. Besides all the learning you achieve when commenting — it is important part of being part of a learning community and developing connections with others.
  3. Goal is to make time to comment on other participants posts; and ensure you respond back to comments by other participants on post on your blog.

Reading posts

Make sure you’ve select the subscribe to email notification of new comments if they have this option.

And finally writing posts

Notice I put posts last?  Deliberate 🙂

The idea of blogging as part of a constructivist MOOC is that you’re reflecting and sharing your learning.   Ideally what you’re looking for is to learn from others while building on, and adding to what you’ve learnt.  That’s why I’ve put writing posts last.

Sure they’ll probably give you some tasks to blog about — like they did for the orientation week activity but the idea is it is all about what you want to learn so you should also write posts about whatever else you’re learning or want to share.

The more you read, participate by leaving comments on other participant’s posts, engage in discussions and conversations — the more you’ll learn and want to share — and this is when you REFLECT on it by writing a post!

I strongly recommend you also read these tips for writing better blog posts — it should help!

Check out Alan Levine’s Blogging as pointless, incessant barking post – packed full of excellent tips!

Where now?

The challenge with longer posts like these are you can feel like the blogger has said everything.   Which I haven’t.

Now’s your opportunity to ask the questions about the:

  1. Stuff I didn’t have time to cover.
  2. The technical aspects on blogging I choose not to cover.
  3. Share your ideas on how you’re learning through blogging as part of a MOOC.

So leave a comment or write a post to reflect on what you’ve learnt.

40 thoughts on “Learning through blogging as part of a connectivist MOOC

  1. I am practicing commenting. You covered just the right amount of content tonight in your “Intro to Blogging” session. I am new to blogging and the big take-away for me was there is nothing to be intimated about. This is just reflection and comment and in that process learning takes place. Thanks for a great session.


    1. Hi Alison, thanks for taking the time to practice your commenting! I’m glad that you feel I covered the right amount of information and I hope it does help you.

      It’s also pleasing to know that the message there is nothing to be intimated about and this is about your learning came across.


  2. Thanks Sue, I joined the session late today and haven’t had a chance to watch the recording – this was a perfect overview and I appreciate the follow up! ~Karin (@kgitch)

    1. Hi Karin,

      Glad the overview helped.

      The messages I was trying to convey in my session are pretty much covered here in this post except for the bit at the beginning where I share my personal journey to becoming a blogger.

      My plan is to review the Whiteboard notes and chat — to use these to follow up with the other main questions participants were asking and discussing.

  3. Thank you for this post to go along with the now archived BB. And the links may take me days to go through but I’ve bookmarked this on Diigo and am going to visit and revisit. I have an edublog and a blogger and now a wordpress, maybe should collaborate those somehow but that’ll be step #45 or something like that!
    As for commenting, it requires reading and I just love to read so many things, I have become a skimmer, which maybe isn’t the best tactic, I’ll have to find a way to prioritize and probably set a time, as now it is past my bedtime!

  4. Thanks for this blog post. It’s really helpful to be able to look back over what was discussed in the session, and to have all the links easily available.

  5. Hi Sue.
    Great job today on blackboard! Wasn’t able to stay for the whole thing but I was able to pick up a few tips. Pleased to say you have reminded me about Google Reader and I have added etmooc to it so that should simplify following all the posts and responding when I can. You blog post is fantastic – so thorough and lots of useful links. I have been blogging for a while but it will be new to lots of our staff this year so this post will be great – already bookmarked!

  6. @Melissa there might not be an archived BB from this session 🙁 Indications are the recording may have failed. I’m definitely a skim reader but using Google Reader on my tablet helps control my skimming so I do make more time to comment. I’m more likely to skim read if I’m using FlipBoard as more effort is required to read a full post.

    @Donna thanks and I’m hoping it does help those that want to be able to quickly find the information.

    @Mary full credit to Peggy George. Having a moderator whose experienced and keeps you on task is so valuable.

    I’m glad my tip about using Google Reader with the blog hub helped. It’s made a huge difference for me. It’s now so quick to see the latest posts and to check out what’s happening.

  7. Sue, it is always a pleasure to read your informative posts, and I’m sure the ones new to blogging will thoroughly profit from the tips and practical advice you’ve given.

    Cheers from sunny Brasilia!

  8. Hi, Sue,

    Your post is so goooooood, I can´t tell you how happy I am I found it. I´d like to blog more, but I don´t have neither the time nor the knowledge to say many things. I´d rather be lurking here and there, reading posts, leaving comments, asking questions and trying to learn something from all that.

    This etmooc gives me the opportunity to start blogging, but I am thinking that I´d like to write only short posts, with a few ideas, reflections… Working as a full time teacher wouldn´t allow me enough time anyway to write long posts.

    Do you think that´s a good idea? Is that what is called “microblogging”? Can you recommend a platform for short and quick posts?

    Thanks a lot!

      1. Hi Juan,

        Debs is right. Microblogging using a tool like Twitter is an art form in itself.

        I would encourage you to set up a blog. There really are no rules on how long or short your posts should be. If you look closely at the ETMOOC blog hub you’ll see some people write really short posts, others write longer and others write really long posts.

        For example, Karen wrote a really short reflection here – http://kelmooc.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/iam-just-lurking-in-twitter.html She was reflecting her own personal experiences which made me think about the challenges when you are new on Twitter and trying to connect.

        You can write short posts on any of the standard blogging platforms and you’ll find suggestions by ETMOOC here – http://etmooc.org/guide-for-participants/

        Just focus on what you want to reflect on or share; your own personal needs.

        I would also encourage you not to be put off by the lengths of my posts. My posts tend to be longer, and more detailed than most.

  9. Fabulous tips here, and I haven’t gotten to watch the BB recording (not sure where those are, even though you re-did the session and it should be recorded).

    I DO use “read more” for my posts because they are very, very long usually, and I do that so that people can more easily browse my posts on my blog’s homepage. If they have to scroll through super long posts they won’t get very far into the various posts before getting tired of it and won’t see what else I’ve blogged about.

    Is that a legit reason for using “read more”?

    1. Hi Christina

      There is pros and cons to using Read more and to using summary in your feed.

      I can totally understand the challenges of long posts because my posts are very long.

      However, the better option than using Read more, by adding in the Insert More Tag, is to use a theme that uses a post excerpt on your blog post page. This way your readers still see the summary of what you write about but they see the full post when reading in a Feed Reader such as Google Reader. Read more and using a feed summary means someone like me who reads in Google Reader has to click on your link to read the full post. This makes it less likely we will read your post in the feed.

      Hope that has helped answer your question?


  10. Thanks, Sue–that is very helpful indeed! I just changed my theme to one I like, and it took a long time to decide on that one. I am using a platform provided by the university where I teach, and the options are limited. I’ll see if there is a theme that digests posts that I like. Hate to change the theme again when I’ve just done so a couple of months ago (confuses readers), but this would be a good reason to do so.

    I had no idea of these problems and solutions, so it is great that you pointed them out! Much obliged.


    1. Hi Christina

      Totally understand the challenges of changing themes. Most readers cope with it when you change the theme.

      The alternative option is use full posts and add a Recent posts or Category widget to your sidebar so they can see what you write about.


      1. Hi Christina

        Thought of this after I hit reply 🙁 The theme you use is important to your first time readers. It does impact on whether they decide to subscribe to your blog and how readable your posts are when reading your blog. It’s less important to your more dedicated readers. Provided the theme doesn’t make your posts harder to read there less inclined to be put off but your theme as it is your content that they are interested in.

  11. Thanks, Sue, for the advice. I try hard to find themes that make the blog as readable as possible (e.g., I switched from three columns to two because my posts are long and three columns means they seem even longer!). I hadn’t thought of creating a “recent posts” category…that’s an intriguing idea! I already have categories on the side, but not that one.

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