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Random Thoughts on Instructional Design

Integrating the Blackboard Blog Tool into Course Design

What is the Blog Tool?

A Blog Tool is a tool which provides an online forum, diary, or journal.  An entire class or selected individuals can access, add new entries and comments, if these settings are enabled by instructors.

Why might I want to use the tool?

One method of supporting social co-construction of knowledge is through collaborative communication. For example learners can read a novel that doesn’t have a complete ending, then write a final chapter, and post their submissions to a class blog for others to read and respond. Collaborating with other learners (authors) enhances their reading experience. This simple activity will help learners to think deeply about the book and about writing. It will also encourage them to write with a purpose, to think critically about what they write, to read what others have produced, and to compare their own work with the work of others. It is worth noting that having learners post their work on the Web inspires many of them to take their work more seriously by reflecting on what they are about to let many individuals read. (Jonassen, 1999)

With the Blog Tool in Blackboard, the Blog can be shared only between members of the class or it can be configured to be shared only between the individual student and instructor or between specific student groups and the instructor.

Blogs in courses can be used for.

  • Reflective journals
  • Peer review and feedback
  • Critical thinking and creativity

Using group or course-wide Blogs fosters lively discussion of course topics and concepts. When engaged in written debate, students are motivated to sharpen their critical thinking and rhetorical skills.

To learn a little more about blogging through Blackboard view the demo movie developed by Duke University (Flash required).

Types of Blogs within Blackboard

There are two types of blogs within Blackboard: a central course blog, and group or individual blogs.

blog tools menuThe Central Course Blog site can be accessed through the course Tools area. As the instructor, you need to configure and make it available. This Blog can be used for entries shared with the entire class and the instructor.  You can access the Central Course Blog site by selecting Tools from the main course menu and then choosing Blog from the menu.

  • Users can create a new entry that includes text formatting, external links and embedded images.
  • Entries are shown in chronological order, with the newest entries appearing first on the list.  Participants can use a calendar to examine older posts.
  • When viewing an entry, participants in the course can leave a comment on a post. 

Each course can also have many individual or group Blog sites as the instructor would like to utilize in the course.  Complete the following step to add team or individual blog to your course.

  1. Decide where you want to place the new blog. The content area "Course Materials" is a good location – we'll use that for this tutorial.
  2. In the left-hand navigation bar, click on Control Panel.
  3. On the Control Panel page, in the Content Areas section, click on Course Materials.
  4. On the Course Materials page, locate the pull-down menu on the right of the gray editing bar on top of the page. Click here and select Wiki. Then click Go.

individual blog setting

  1. On the Create Blog page, give a name to the blog and provide a short description.
  2. create blog

  3. In the "Select Members" section, create the group who will have editing access to the new blog. Select a student name(s) by clicking on their name or if you want to select multiple names at once hold the [Ctrl] key down while clicking on names.
  4. Then click the right arrow to add the student to the group. You can also select "All Students" to give editing access to the entire class. Instructors and TAs automatically have access to all blogs, so there is no need to add yourself to the list of members.
  5. The "Options" section allows you to configure access to the blog further. Here is what these options do:


blog options menu


  1. Do you want to make the content visible? – unless you set this to "Yes", the blog will be hidden to everyone.
  2. Who do you want to allow users to view post of other users? – if you select "Yes" then all blog members will be able to see all posts. If this is set to "No" then only the student who posted the content and the instructor will be able to see the post.
  3. Do you want to enable a public (unauthenticated) RSS feed? – Choose "Yes" to enable public RSS feed for this blog. Choose "No" to disable RSS. If RSS is enabled, you will find a red [RSS] button with the URL in the bottom right corner of the blog. Be sure that you do not turn this feature on if there is sensitive information in the blog.
  4. Do you want to allow students to purge blog pages? – We recommend setting this to "No". Purging is a permanent deletion with no possibility of retrieval.
  5. Who do you want to allow to comment on blog entries?
    1. Nobody = all class members can view posts but no one can comment on the posts
    2. Instructor Only = all class members can view the blog, all members can post but only the instructor can comment on the posts
    3. Blog Member and Instructor = all members can post, entire class can view the blog, but only the instructor and group members can comment on the posts
    4. Everyone in Course = all course members can view and comment on all posts
  6. Choose the dates and times for which group members will be allowed to edit the blog – use this option if you want to enforce due dates on work done in the blog. You do not have to set these dates.
  7. Choose the dates and times for which non-group members will be allowed to view the blog – use this option if you want to restrict the dates by which non-members can views their classmates' blogs. This allows you, for example, to create wiki sites for small group projects, and make the sites viewable to the entire class only after the student projects are completed.
  • If you what to provide students with credit for participating in the blog set the following items under the "Create Grade Book Entry" section.
    1. Create Grade Book entry for this blog – click the check box if you would like to create a grade book item for the blog.
    2. Entry Name: – Enter the name that you would like to appear in the grade book in the form field.
    3. Category: – Click on the drop-down arrow to the right of the category list, then select the assignment type from the drop-down list.
    4. Point Possible: – Enter the possible points that can be earned for this assignment in the form field.
    5. Make grade visible to students? – The system default for this field is "Yes", if you don't want the grade for this item to be visible to the students click on the "No" radio button.
  • Click on the [OK] button located at the bottom of the page when all the blog parameters are set.
  • Class participants access blog sites by clicking on the content area where you have placed them in the left-hand navigation bar. If a student clicks on a blog to which they do not have viewing access, s/he will see an authorization denied message.
  • Next week – Types of Wiki Authorship

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    This entry was posted on February 22, 2008 by in Blackboard 8.

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