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Blogs vs. Forums
by Don Hinkelman - Wednesday, 8 October 2008, 10:53 PM
Here is a discussion that Laura MacGregor and I have done about Moodle blogs. Also, I regret to say that our reprogramming of the Moodle blog (as mentionned above) is not ready to share. We got commenting going well, but then the tagging feature broke down. Hope to fix it in a few months. Or you can can wait for Moodle 2.0 with guarenteed commenting, due in April 2009.

Hi Don,

Anyway, I am back with a new question if I may--blogs versus forums
They look awfully similar in format - what's the diff?

These are very different. A blog is just a one way publishing of my own thoughts or essays. Like bowling. A forum usually starts with a question, and is followed by many replies, and further comments by the original poster. More like tennis. (a la Polite Fictions)

I made one blog entry, but nobody can see it unless they click "view site entries." Is there some way to highlight the blog entry on the blog menu (sidebar), The latest news and featured learning site give teasers about the contents. Can this be done for blogs too?

There is no automatic way to highlight a particular blog entry on the main course page. But you can make a special block and put a link in there to entice students to visit your blog or a particular blog entry. You would have to do this....
1. Add block >> HTML block
2. Click the edit icon to edit the new HTML block.
3. Copy the link to your blog (not possible to link to a particular entry).
4. Paste the link into the HTML block, and type any other information explaining that link.

I read the discussion about blogs on englishforum and took a look at CA's blogs. May I ask two questions about blogs now that I have seen them in action?

1. What are tags and how do they work?

Tags are categories. There are two kinds of tags--official and user. The official ones are categories made by the teacher. The user ones are tags made by the student.

2. Is there a way to organize blog entries into categories? If more than one "discussion" or topic gets going then it would be nice to divide them into categories.

Use tags. But students have to be required to make tags. Usually they don't unless you make a big deal of it.

Besides, the list could get pretty long, so being able to categorize, even by month, would make it easier to navigate perhaps. I realize that the nature of blogs is not a discussion, but is a bowling lane, but I thought there might be some way to organize the lanes.

Actually, the current Moodle blog is really primitive, especially if you are used to Blogger and Wordpress. In fact, there isn't even a comment function. I would wait until version 2.0 of Moodle in April 2009 to really use blogs. So much more can be done in forums. Blogs are independent of your course and it is hard for students to find each others blog. But it is easy to see all the comments in a structured forum.

And, your idea to highlight the blog is good. I want to do it but don't understand where the link to a blog entry comes from. The URL to the blog entry doesn't work. I don't know how to link the line "view site entries" in the blog block if that is what you mean - my kindergarten skills only let me link to web pages using the knot link icon on the editing page. Thanks for teaching me how to link this.

Sorry, I was wrong. You cannot make a link to an individual entry. The only way to connect to blogs is to go into "Participants" (a side block) and click on a name, then click on their "blog" tab.

It is very hard to encourage students to read each others blogs without manually building a table of links to everyone's blogs. I tried and gave up... for now. smile