Sunday, 12 November 2006

Beta Blogger better

Sorry if you've arrived here looking for Beta Blockers. This is actually about the new version of Blogger, Google's excellent free tool for publishing stuff like this or worse. I was quite wary of all those web diaries that sprung up some time ago but now that it's really quite simple to customise the templates and people are appreciating that a web log needn't be a tedious log of web things, I've have fallen for the idea big time, with more titles than I can usually remember.

No doubt there will be piles of other comments in professional and techy entries elsewhere which will tell you all about the whys and the wherefors. All I want to say is how useful Blogger can be in e-learning or in just presenting information in a more modern and smarter way.

Use it to provide notes for students instead of those horrible old handouts. Distribute minutes around a selected group instead of umpteen confusing e-mail attachments. It can be a newsletter and have pictures added without you having to know anything about resolution, file size or even know the difference between a jpg and a png.

If you only want a small group to see it then viewing can be restricted. You can choose to allow or prevent comments by people, and to be notified if they do.

With Picasa on board you can select images and just hit a button to have them land in a new post, ready to publish to the world. Try that in normal web publishing on your own in less than 5 minutes, even if you do know you way around Dreamwever!

The new version has a nice facility to add code. I don't know a great deal about code but managed to add the clock by copying and pasting some into the window provided and that seems to have worked fine.

Best of all, though, and something that I'm sure will be increasingly useful in future, is the fact that with every Blogger web log comes a free RSS feed. In simple terms, your posts (from just headings to the whole shooting match, pics and all, can be collected by a web page and displayed somewhere completely different. Whether you or someone else does the collecting is neither here not there, the fact that it's simple and extremely efficient is what matters. You make a new post or edit something and, hey presto! the displays elsewhere, wherever they are, get changed too.

All I want them to add now is a way to change the order of posts, (without chamging the date which is a bit of a pain and cheating really).


Getting ready for some LSN events coming up shortly. Friday 24 November and Thursday 30 November you'll find me in action in London and Bristol respectively. Not terribly sure where the term e-tools came from but it's not as bad as some. The events are all about using some of the applications available either on or for download from the web to make lessons more interesting, get a message across more effectively, share things more simply and things like that. They should be fun as there are some remarkable new tools out there, especially those in the ever-growing Google stable, about which I shall write separately.

Details of the events can be found at the LSN Learning Technologies site. A preview of some of things I may be promoting can be found on either the webtools link or at Q3 and Q4, the latter being an attempt to publish some guidance notes on a range of topics which I haven't finished yet.

Version 2

The new Blogger beta is so much easier to use and more adaptable so I've switched with a minor change of url. The basic idea's the same - to bring news and developments of interest to colleagues in e-learning and teaching generally, with the emphasis on things that appeal to me, and occasionally annoy me! For guidance notes on how to do things refer to FAQICA which has just started too and is intended to replace my old notes collection.