General help

 
 
Martin in black and white
Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Moodle HQGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers
Yes, there are no comments allowed for blog entries in 1.6. Let me explain why.

Firstly, I want blogs to be well-integrated in the Moodle experience. I do not want to just bolt on Simpblog or WordPress. Most standalone blogs have comments because there is no other way for readers to discuss things (one assumes they don't have blogs). In Moodle though we already have lots of ways for discussions to happen, and everyone has a blog.

So what I'm trying to do is extract the part of of what makes Blogs unique (ongoing unstructured public reflection) and make that work well first, then carefully link it in with the other tools in Moodle. It's much harder to take features away than add them carefully.

Firstly, there is a big conceptual overlap between a blog and a forum. See this listing of all the discussions you've started - it looks suspiciously like a blog. I am convinced that if we allow blogs to effectively be like user-centered forums that a lot of important discussion will float out the blogs (which are not course-based) and make "keeping up" with a particular course very difficult.

If you think keeping up with forums is hard now, imagine if every user has their own.

Secondly, if you want to use blogs to collect reflections from students and comment on them or grade them then we already have Assignments for that. If there is something missing about Assignments then perhaps we need a new assignment type, but anything you are assigning students to do for feedback is an assignment.

Overall, I view blogs as an external window to the course activities, a "skin" of not-private comments that you might monitor via RSS etc and use to access the forums and other activities within Moodle.

So my aim for 1.6 was simply to have a basic framework up that we can get used to and better see where we might go with the next level. If you want WordPress go and install it now, I'm not stopping you. smile

Here are my ideas at the moment, but they need feedback and discussion from those who have trialled the current Blogs in 1.6.

  1. LINKING TO/FROM BLOGS: We need to make it easy to blog ABOUT things around Moodle. Daryl and I were talking about "blog this" buttons placed via an easy API on every page which would take you direct to a "new entry" editing screen already prefilled with a link to the item.

    For better internal data consistency it might be best to actually store a link field in some Moodle format (non-URL) with the post. There was also talk of some sort of trackback-like mechanism to detect when blogs get linked to.
  2. DISCUSSION ON BLOGS: We need to make feedback on blogs easy and sensible. One idea is to have a blog this button on each blog entry as above (so a reply to a blog is your blog entry).

    Another idea is to have a "Discuss this blog" link which takes you to a special course forum for discussing blog entries.


I'd appreciate any constructive thoughts about these directions and others you have thought of.
 
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Art Lader
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group Documentation writers
My two cents: I very much like the blog this and discuss this blog ideas. Nice, tight, seamless integration with the forums will be key.

-- Art
 
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Prince George, Cottonwood Island, royal coach
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Something like that, yeah.

What I'm looking forward to in Elgg 0.7 is threaded discussion under blog entries.

I agree that too many avenues of expression can make for a lot of needle chases if your job is to keep tabs on everything. On the other hand, perhaps what's needed is an effective way to keep tabs on everything.

How about this? I've already griped about how the Elgg-Moodle integration doesn't seem to do much that a much simpler upload form your hard drive couldn't accomplish. Could the integration be tweaked to allow Moodle blog posts to appear in Elgg blogs? That way, things wouldn't get so messy in the course, but posts wouldn't get so lonely. And I, for one, wouldn't feel like I got no bang for my buck with the integration.
 
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Picture of Lesli Smith
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group Testers
I agree with Art that the links will be critical.  I also know it will be a bit messy until we figure out what we all want to do with it, and I'm okay with that.  Right now, it looks as if the new blog will be a handy way to answer the question raised elsewhere in forums by others: where can students log thoughts for themselves that may or may not be graded?

I think that what makes this option different from the journal or assignment is that it is so easy now for them to decide whether they want to share their thoughts with just the teacher or with a wider audience. I definitely like that option as it will save the copy/paste steps my students are now doing to post their thoughts in a forum after I have told them that they should share their thoughts with their peers.  (Incidentally, because this copy/paste workaround seems like so many extra steps to teenagers--yes, I know it's not that big a deal, but to them, anything extra is a big deal--I've found that it's difficult to get them to share unless I offer the carrot of "extra credit." mixed  I like that with this new blog they can choose to publish from the very beginning if they would like to do so.) 

At first, I was disappointed that they aren't linked at all to the scale feedback system, but now I see why.  And I think that could actually be a good thing because it forces us to recognize that we, as teachers, don't necessarily have to assess every little thing that students do in preparation for our courses.  Not everything should be tied to a grade--but this might prove a difficult paradigm as grading programs are having the insidious effect of causing all of our assignments to be assessed down to the 1/2 percent/1/2 point, which means that students are now more focused on points/percentages than ever.  But that's a conversation for a different thread.  Sorry for the digression.

One brief scenario that might work well with the current blogs as they are: I recently had my students do short 10 minute in-class writings related to their novel.  Some of the topics were quite personal, so I told them straight up that I wouldn't be reading them, that they were to be used as material for later.  I had them keep them all together, and then for the final exam on the novel, I had them use at least one of those journals as source material to expand into a longer, more formal essay that was more directly linked to the novel.  So here's how it could look with the blogs:

1) They write a number of reflections on the subject--none graded.
2) They choose the best one to expand for a graded assignment and copy it into that assignment.
  • I have no problem forcing them to go through the aforementioned extra copy/paste steps for a grade.  They should have to work for a grade.  It was the non-graded idea of sharing their thoughts with others just for the sake of interaction that was problematic before.
I'm writing all of this in a very short prep time that just ran out, so I hope it makes sense.  Have to go to class.

Thanks for all the possibilities!
Lesli




 
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Art Lader
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group Documentation writers
I'm writing all of this in a very short prep time that just ran out, so I hope it makes sense.

It made perfect sense to me.

-- Art
 
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Prince George, Cottonwood Island, royal coach
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Me, too. Good ideas.
 
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Picture of Matt Crosslin
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
I've always thought that comments were just very low-feature discussion boards.  Some blogs have ways to quote other comments, maybe, but I have always thought that it would be better to use forums for commenting.

I look at it this way: blogging is for writing a log - making a list of something (sites you like, restaurants that make you sick, etc), or logging personal thoughts, or your reaction to something, etc.  Discussions are for, well, discussing something.  If you make comments on a blog, you are really discussing it.  So, the real confusion only comes when you use the word "comments" - it really should be "discussion" in my opinion.

When I did the Simple Blogs thing, I based it on my theory above.  (anyone reading about this that hasn't read the forum on Simple Blogs - they were created to hold me over until 1.6 is officially released, not as a competition or something for the blogs in 1.6).  So, I gave these options:

 - The teacher can choose an existing forum for comments for the blog, if they want to allow it (forum has to be created before hand).  The program creates all cross-links needed.
 - Teachers can edit posts directly, inserting comments needed.  But this can be viewed by all.  That would need to change in some situations.

I think, also, there are really two types of blogs that people think of - teachers want more of a reflective journal for a specific assignment, and bloggers want something that allows them to tell all about themselves and their favorite links, favorite TV shows, etc (in the lists that you see at the side of a lot of blogs) for any topic that comes to their mind.  That's what I like about the blog in 1.6 is that you can post the blog to different levels - the world, specific courses, etc.  I think that the desires of bloggers can possibly be met by maybe expanding the Profile section to have a part that looks like a public blog - complete with all of the lists of favorites and ramblings on whatever the person wants to talk about.

I do think that the Assignment activity does almost meet the parameters of the blog that teachers want, except for the fact that it does not seem to allow for multiple, dated entries, with a list of archives to browse through.  Maybe it does; I just haven't dug into it much.  I've also dug some into how to keep list of archives in Simple Blog, so feel free to dig into that code to see one idea of how to do it.

I would agree that integration is key, especially with podcasts, vodcasts, etc.
 
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Picture of Bill Click
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
I really like the idea of a personal blog linking out of their profile page.  Makes it vrey personal and definately linked to the author.  Good idea.
 
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Martin in black and white
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Moodle HQGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers
This is how it is in 1.6 already ...
 
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Prince George, Cottonwood Island, royal coach
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Some good ideas here. Your Simple Blog sounds like it's worth a gander.

Personally, I like the idea of combining blogs and forums.

You might be interested in the concept of SPODEs. You'll need an elgg.net account to view all of the posts, but one or two are public.
 
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Picture of Kaylee hutton
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 

You know what! I think the moodle is making us crazy.............

 
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Picture of Josep M. Fontana
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
OK, I see your point. I'm still glad, though, that you are thinking about something like "blog this" or "discuss this blog". I totally agree that the appropriate place for discussions is the forum. In fact, I think the forums are central to Moodle and one of its greatest features. This is bad in a way because when I participate in discussions in other communities I find the other forums as very clumsy and inappropriate tools in comparison to the Moodle forums. I'm a bit spoiled.

Having said this, however, I still think in many cases those who blog also like to have some feedback and love to see that they are read and that people react to their thoughts (also those who read the blogs sometimes might have reactions that they would like to express). Not having a space for that is a bit limiting, I think.

The truth is that I don't really feel very strongly about whether it is done exactly in the same way as in the traditional blogs and I certainly like all the alternatives that you propose to the blog "comments" feature. The point I was trying to make is that I found the blog module as it was implemented as lacking something and I was looking for answers as to why it was that way.

After reading your answer, I am coming to think that perhaps it is a good idea after all to eliminate the comment functionality so as to discourage people from using blogs as forums. Let's see what you people come up with to solve this problem.

As I said, I think that the LINKING TO/FROM BLOGS and 'blog this' buttons look like promissing solutions for the current "blog isolation". I'm thinking that another possible alternative could be to allow comments but to limit them greatly in space (limit on the number of words) so that feedback/reaction is possible but the comments cannot develop into a full fledged discussion. Perhaps also only allow one comment per user or something similar.

As for ways to implement a journals, I don't think the assignment as it is now is the best alternative. The advantage of the blog format is that it is structured around different, independent entries. That would allow a student to write her thoughts/reflections/observations for the day, week or whatever as different entries that could be commented on independently. An on-line assignment could become too long and unwieldy for that purpose. Perhaps an assignment plugin that allowed one to create different entries (that could be commented on) would be the right tool for the job.

Josep M.
 
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Art Lader
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group Documentation writers
...when I participate in discussions in other communities I find the other forums as very clumsy and inappropriate tools in comparison to the Moodle forums. I'm a bit spoiled.

Me, too! I love the way Moodle so often just works. You can forget about the software and focus on the interactions.

-- Art
 
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Me and Ray
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 

>  I still think in many cases those who blog also like to have some feedback

I agree...I think that a lot of blogging is the ego-boost/extraversion/self-disclosure/self-promotional factor. People write about their lives and love it when other people take the time to become involved in anyway. Hence

counters (number of views - as at flickr)
footpints (or blogger-viewable logs of who came to see, as used at the MASSIVELY Japanese popular social network mixi.com)
trackback (seems overkill for within moodle)
comments (is there a blog software without them?)

are, especially the last, important functionalities motivating people to post to blogs.

At the same time, as Martin points out, chaos might ensue if everyong had their own *seperate* forum.  

However, while I think that there is an important chuff-factor to seeing the thread grow beneath ones own blog post, there is no reason why those same comments should not also be aggregated, viewable, markable and respondable somewhere else too. 

So, would it be possible and desirable to *combine* the usual blog comment style with a comment aggregating, "special course forum for discussing blog entries" as suggested by Martin above?

This  "special course forum for discussing blog entries" would be like an RSS of the blogs, as well as the blogs being like an RSS of the forum(s).

Tim

 
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Picture of Matt Crosslin
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
"At the same time, as Martin points out, chaos might ensue if everyong had their own *seperate* forum."

That could be true, depending on the size of the class.

On the Simple Blog thing I designed, I tried to deal with this.  The admin/teacher can decide if comments are even allowed for that blog.  If the class is too large, the teacher might not want to worry with it.  If the the admin allows for comments, then one forum is created for the entire blog assignment.  If the blog assignment is set up to allow each student to have an individual blog, then there is still only one forum for the entire assignment.  Each individual blogger then chooses whether or not to allow comments on their individual post.  If they choose to allow it, then Moodle creates a new thread in the designated forum where the post title says "Student name: Blog Title."  Then, in the post, it simply says "Comment on this post here."  Cross activity links are inserted so the commenter can go back and forth between the blog and the comment forum.  Then, commenters only have to reply to that post to add comments.  Teachers can just go into one forum to see who has new comments.

I have this set-up, with some examples, here:

http://www.monsoonriver.com/grounds/
(see RiverGrounds 101 class, in the section near the bottom)
 
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St Petersburg, Russia
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers
"After reading your answer, I am coming to think that perhaps it is a good idea after all to eliminate the comment functionality so as to discourage people from using blogs as forums."

But why shouldn't teachers decide for themselves how they want to use the blogging feature? Maybe as a teacher you don't have a need for a separate discussion forum. What you're saying is that in order for faculty to comment on a student's blog entry they have to set up and organise a totally separate discussion forum. I'm sorry, I just don't see how constricting options is beneficial in this situation. I read and comment on a lots of blogs and nowhere outside of Moodle are readers forced to make comments out of context of the original posting. It seems to me that the whole point of blogging is getting lost here -- pedagogically blogging is valuable because it encourages long reflective postings which tend not to happen in practice in a bog standard discussion forum.  Pedagogically it's valuable too by virtue of the immediacy of teacher's feedback  -- totally lost if buried in an independent forum.

Finally, I'm worried about the direction this is going. Moodle is great because it allows teachers to choose how they want teach something. They might not choose the best tool for the job but if it works for them then fine, go ahead.  But with the blogging tool you cannot do what 90% of the blogs outside Moodle allow you to do, that is, to make comments in the context of the original posting. How do I explain this to my faculty? Moodle has a super new blogging system but making comments involves jumping through hoops. They are going to ask why, and what should my response be? That the developers knew best?

As to a blog-centric view of Moodle, if that's how the teacher wants to approach his course, then why not? Why can't I have an assignment for student to blog about a certain topic (and use the JustBlogIt! or Performancing Firefox extension) then comment on it and grade it? Why can't I have an assignment that asks students to comment on 4 other blogs and then have the assignment automatically record the location and timing of those comments? These are all things I've done with a class using an external blog (Moveable Type) but which would have been better with an integrated blogging system. A blog centered course makes a lot of sense in a lot of situations.

I still maintain that those teachers who know how to use discussion forums (vastly overrated pedagogically in my view) should be able to go ahead and use them in place of a blog; those teachers who want to keep their life simple and simplify their student's use of their course should be allowed to use the blogging system with commenting enabled; if it turns out like a  discussion forum , so what?.

Finally, I'd like to point out that students, especially the younger generation, are well used to the blogging/commenting paradigm. Just look at their use of Facebook for example. My daughter spends a significant part of her day visiting her friend's Facebooks and adding comments to them -- it's a natural thing to do. It's not natural to have to follow a link to a separate place where comments are separated from the orginal text.

Mark Pearson
 
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Picture of Josep M. Fontana
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
I was following the new contributions to this thread and I read the following quote:

"After reading your answer, I am coming to think that perhaps it is a good idea after all to eliminate the comment functionality so as to discourage people from using blogs as forums."

And I thought: who could have said this? I checked and it was none other than myself smile

The truth is I had started this thread somewhere else complaining about the lack of comments in the Moodle implementation of blogs. I was simply surprised because I had no idea about why anybody would have left out a feature that was so much a part of the concept of blogging (in my experience). Martin's answer was a good one in the sense that it provided an explanation for something that I didn't understand. It helped me see the other side of the argument.

While I think that a certain amount of concern about blogs becoming forums is legitimate, after having played around with the Moodle blogs for a while and seeing how people are using them, I've come to the conclusion that blogs without comments are somewhat incomplete. As I said somewhere else, I would favor some kind of limitation to the comments so that they could not become very long (and thus turn into some kind of forum). This would also help students (and users in general) learn the useful art of terse writing and summarizing (probably I need to learn a bit of that myself  smile ) so the limitation would have a pedagogically beneficial aspect to it.

I think depriving the public from having a place to add comments and the blogger from getting some feedback, however, is too drastic a measure and greatly limits the possibilities of blogging (pedagogically and otherwise). Now,  Martin told me that nobody is stopping me from installing WordPress or some other blog application . I guess that this goes also for all of you smile.

Josep M.
 
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Martin in black and white
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Moodle HQGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers
In case it's not obvious from my discussion started here, I really want to add some sort of commenting too (I myself want to comment on a lot of blog entries in moodle.org for example) but we have to do it in a way that

1) Does not turn blogs into a forum
2) Does not lead to information overload, with important discussions happening in too many areas.

Comments have not been ruled out by any means, just left out for 1.6 while we try Blogs in their current form and work out the very best way to do it. We don't want to have *change* this sort of GUI too much.
 
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Picture of Samuli Karevaara
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group DevelopersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Translators
Some measures to take might be:
- No intended comments on commets, i.e. a flat thread, so the comments are more directly aimed at the original blog post .
- Default value of, for example, two weeks after which the comments for a blog post are closed. This might emphasize the chronological dimension of the blogs, so that they are not a collection of "sticky" articles.
- In general, rather restrictive default values (like short and text only -comment fields?), but maybe to leave a bit of leg room for the teachers.
 
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Picture of Ludo (Marc Alier)
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Another wat to aproach is would be to use a mediawiki-like discussion page. We have already implemented for the new wiki .

Other important things (as I said arround here ) is to enable a way to link to specific blog entries, and to have  a sort resume view of the blog entries.

We should keep track of all the suggestions in http://docs.moodle.org/en/Blogs_development
Cheers
Ludo
 
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Picture of Samuli Karevaara
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group DevelopersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Translators
I was also thinking of an inter-Moodle-trackbacking system, sort of automated for what you did for your post on Microcontents, linked the forum post and a blog entry together. If a blog post is being referred to in a forum post, this could show as a trackback link on the post ("This post is being discussed here..." or something).

I have no idea on the UI for this. A "blog this" functionality would be easier to come up with than a "comment this on any forum" functionality for a blog post.
 
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Picture of Ludo (Marc Alier)
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Oh yeah, that was my intention. To show how It can be easyly done. big grin
We would need a blog category - forum binding mechanism to create the forum thread automatically for the  coments (  maybe should be created with the firs atpempt to comment ) , the problem will be to sort out in wich category the coments go, beacause Blog entries can be multi category.
Regards
Ludo
 
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Picture of Michael Feldstein
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
I blogged about a similar idea not too long ago. The basic idea is that the teacher in a class can use some kind of a tool (in my example it was a grade book) to generate a specific label that corresponds to an assignment. That label shows up in the student's blog category list. Whenever the student posts something related to the class assignment, the LMS's internal feed reader would see the label and route the post to the appropriate place.

You could take this a bit further. Imagine that, once a post is identified as a submitted assignment, a thread is generated in a discussion board. But the key is that the underlying data representation for the discussion thread is the same representation as the blog post and comments. In other words, students could post a reply in the blog and have it show up in the class discussion board and vice versa.

Personally, I like the idea of the student's post and subsequent comments being ultimately owned by the student rather than the class instance. It helps the student build up a collection of content for a reflective portfolio without doing any special work. If you can crack the problem of fragmenting the conversation, then allowing comments in blogs is a Good Thing.
 
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Picture of Joseph Fall
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Nice idea.
So blog entries could be identified as an assignment submission, or as a discussion, or as a personal reflection, or whatever, and Moodle will create the apporpriate cross links, while maintaining the student's collection of work as a whole in their blog.
That just sounds ideal - students could decide for themselves if they wanted people to be allowed to comment on their posts (and thus create a cross link to the blog discussion forum) or not, and which posts would be submitted as assignments, etc.
Combined with the earlier idea of "blog this" links (presumably takes you to a listing of all blog entries cross linked to that item?) would provide something very powerful that is not at all the same as a forum.
I'll say it again - NICE smile
 
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Picture of Dan Stowell
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Mmm, yes, I like these suggestions Samuli. The 'closing' of comments is a particularly good idea in this context. And trackbacks would be good too.
 
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Picture of Josep M. Fontana
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
>(I myself want to comment on a lot of blog entries in moodle.org for example)

Yes, this is exactly what has definitely convinced me that some kind of comment should be possible. After reading your response and considering the arguments you provided in favor of not having comments, I thought, well, maybe it is not so bad after all. But when blogs in moodle.org have started to spring up and I've started to browse through them I've gone from considering commentless blogs in the abstract to seeing what a more real-life situation would be like. And, to be honest, I can't help but feeling a bit frustrated not being able to provide any kind of feedback whatsoever. Also, at least for me, part of what makes the blogging experience interesting and fun from the perspective of the "visitor" is also seeing how other people have reacted to the blog post. Going through the blogs in moodle.org, I also miss that. Now, having said that, as I said, I've come to share some of the concerns you expressed again:

>but we have to do it in a way that

>1) Does not turn blogs into a forum
>2) Does not lead to information overload, with important discussions happening
>in too many areas.

I think at least three of the proposals that have been bounced around here could prevent that from happening:

- Limiting the comments to a text-only box (perhaps allowing clickable links) and with more or less severe constraints on the maximum number of words allowed.

- Limiting the number of comments a user can add (2 comments max., for instance). You could even make it so that in the second comment by the same user, s/he has even less space to write (fewer words) than in the first comment (already quite limited).

- No comments on comments. Of course this is always possible if the person adding a comment chooses to refer to another comment. But if the only possible sequencing of comments is in chronological order, unlike in the forums, this (together with limitations in the number of comments per user) somewhat discourages real debate or discussion.

I think these three limitations alone would already go a great length in preventing blogs from turning into forums. Also, the way comments are typically visualized in blogs (where only the first sentence or so is visible and you have to click to see the whole text) also contributes to differentiating blogs and forums. Psychologically it is always very clear that the blog post is the real center of this activity. This clearly doesn't happen with forums, where one often forgets who said what in the original post and concentrates on the current stage of the ongoing discussion (which many times has little to do with the first posting smile).

Josep M.
 
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Picture of Chris Lott
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Putting limitations on number of comments, flattening comments-- all of these would have to be handled VERY carefully to work well. What do you do when the participant is burning to make a third post or wants to "riff" on a comment? How does the system handle that channeling?

Artificially squelching discussions feels wrong to me... channeling into a blank slate with post #3 or for a tangential comment would be dysfunctional. The mechanism would need to make the process for distributed writing AND reading seamless...
 
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Picture of Samuli Karevaara
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group DevelopersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Translators
The limitations would be in place to encourage students who have broader comments on the post subject to comment on the subject in a blog entry of their own and/or on some discussion forum, instead of turning the comment area of a single post into a lively discussion. Which is not inherently bad, just that the lively discussions would be nicer in discussion forums and in the "blogosphere" as whole. That's why a "discuss this / blog this" kind of a button in a blog post page would be needed.

But also it would be nice to have a possibility to change/lift all of these proposed limitations.
 
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Prince George, Cottonwood Island, royal coach
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
How about bloggers having the option of making their posts available as forum topics? They could choose one of two ways of doing it:
  1. Double post this blog entry as a forum topic
  2. Allow readers to double post this entry as a forum topic
Actually, this is starting to sound like what I call internal spoding. See my Elgg community SPODE for blog-based discussion (mostly one-sided) of spoding.

Internal spoding, much more feasible for the moment than Web-wide spoding, would allow users of a system such as a Moodle installation to post any single entry in any number of places under any number of guises. For example, you might have a blog post you would like to keep as a blog post in your "web position" within the installation, but also share as a forum topic or a blog or forum comment--or both. You might wish to display it in more than one blog, if, like me and many other educators, you have several.

In the world of spoding, your web position is the place people can go to see what you've been doing on the Web, and the place from which you disseminate your Web content. It's where all your Web content is stored, something like a photo album. Just as you can display a single image stored only in a single photo album in any number of "web points", you would be able to display a single entry stored only in a single web position in any number of web points within the installation.

SPODE Diagram
 
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Prince George, Cottonwood Island, royal coach
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
I've started a fray of this thread at Monologue, Dialogue, Multilogue, Organization and Access if anyone's interested.
 
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Prince George, Cottonwood Island, royal coach
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Here's a diagram of the way I see what are currently represented by blogs, dialogues and forums. Excuse the sizes.



S
 
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Picture of Matt Crosslin
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
I've been playing around with Blogs in 1.6 now (thanks to Julian and the Playpen), and I have some more ideas about blogs.

Maybe we should look at blogs as two seperate possibilities that can be created from the same place.  There are social blog entries for the whole world (or all users of a site), and then a blog entries for a specific class.  A particualr blog entry could be posted to several areas.  Instead of having a drop down that only lets you pick one place where the entry goes, we give the user check buttons, so that they can select every place they want the entry to go.  That way, if a person creates a really good post for a class, they can also check to have it published to the world.

  1. Blog entries for the world - This could be set-up as a more traditional blog.  Specific blocks could even be created for this area, so that users can add lists of favorite stuff, or whatever.  The whole profile could become some kind of MySpace type of thing, to help increase the social factor of online learning.  I know, I know - MySpace has problems.  Let individual institutions deal with how they want to keep this thing safe.  If all of these options are created as blocks, then individual schools can choose which ones to allow and which not to. 

    Comments could even be added for this area like they are on a normal blog.  Use to php to determine if a post is also published in class, and if the commenter is enrolled in that class.  If so, a note would pop-up that says "This comment will not appear with the post in the class.  Only comments in the discussion forum in the class will be attached with this entry in the class."  Leave that part in the learners court - if you want the grade for feedback, put the feedback in the right place.

  2. Blog entries for specific classes - This is where you just get the specific blog posts that the students submit for the grade or class requirement.  No need for any of the fancy extra stuff - just a place for each student's blog entries for that class assignment to be read.  This may mean that an activity will need to be created to pull the needed information out of the database and put this together.  Discussion forums can be set-up like the Simple Blog thing that I was talking about earlier, or whatever better idea comes along.  In fact, Simple blog could just become Class Blog and be designed to show blog entries sent to that specific course, without having to go to the profile.

    Something can be designed to detect if the blog post is also published to the world, and the commenter can choose to make their comment also be attached to the blog entry for the world to see.  One of the forum database tables would probably need to be updated to have a "blog forum" tag attached to it, and then php inserts the extra stuff needed.
I don't know if this makes sense, but I do have a clear picture in my head of what this could look like.  If I get some free time, I can try to put something together to show what I mean.
 
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Martin in black and white
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Moodle HQGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers
"Blog entries for specific classes" - that is exactly what forums are for and what they do well already (we are "blogging together" right now in this course, really, eg grab the RSS for this forum). In a social constructionist framework we need people to be discussing topics, and forums are good for that.

It's very, very tempting to develop a blog-centric view of Moodle (I know because I've fought this too) and end up duplicating a lot of Moodle from that point of view. I've specifically REMOVED the capability to target blogs to a particular course in 1.6 because of this.

I do agree about being able to customise the blog page for yourself via blocks. The block support is there on the blog page, but there are not many good blocks put in yet. That would be a good area for contributors to develop.
 
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Picture of Matt Crosslin
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
I agree that there really isn't but about a hair of difference in the functionality of blogs and discussion boards.  Most of the difference really comes from the interface, the genesis, or the focus and not the function.  (by "genesis" I mean the creation of the blog or discussion).  I created the attached chart to organize the differences.

The reason for the chart and the reason that I have been so into the differences between blogs and discussions is this:  We had an instructor that wanted to use blogs in a class.  Each student would blog on a certian current event, and then receive feedback from other students.  We tried to explain that a discussion board could work the same, but were told that the discussion board was for discussing and he wanted to have blogs mixed.  He wanted them in the class and did not want to have to go to Blogger or something out side of the class area.  We are currenting using Blackboard, so there really wasn't an option for blogs.  Hopefully, we will go to Moodle soon and that will solve a lot of problems (our whole department is for it, but people higher up the food chain need to approve it).

The instructor really wanted to have one link to get into the assignment, where students would see the instructions.  Then, he wanted a list of student blogs that gave him a list of the most recent posts, so he could keep up with them (we didn't go into RSS at this time, because we were all already confused). 
He also wanted the ability to see the last "x" amount of entries, and all of the other functions associated with your typical blog.  The Simple Blog thing that I created was based on what this instructor wanted.  Students would be required to respond to at least three blogs per week, but we have found with discussions that they will usually go way above and beyond that.

The teacher is our "customer," so we really can't throw theory back at them when they say they want something a certain way.  I would love to at times, but alas....

So, even with blogs in 1.6, I would probably still have to install Simple Blog (except rename it to "Class Blog" or "iSynd" or something like that) AND give them access to the old journal function.  Or, more than likely, rename Simple Blog to "Journal" and have both installed.  Why?  Because so many people are so into sematics and interface that they would refuse to use Blog but ask if they could do a Journal assignment.

But, I would likely end up doing is creating a function that allows instructors to name the stinkin' function whatever they want to be happy, and then create something that just pulls what they want from the blog database and formats it the way they want, and then let the students just enjoy the Blog function (because they rarely seem to get hung up on terminology).

My director and I have discussed the need to have more social stuff on our (possible) future Moodle install - to supplement some of that which is lost from being on campus.  So, all that to say that hopefully you will see some useful Moodle Blog blocks coming from our direction soon.

 
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Picture of Lady 800cc
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 

For me a blog would do what "upcoming events" and "forums" do not... have a place to post whatever, and those whatevers may have manual dates attached to them or not, or just be general announcements, in a blog format with no discussions or comments.

I use moodle as a cms/lcms for my churches web site, and what is missing, is a way to post announcements that are not binded programatically to a date or by order of post (I want to be able to order them by importance, not date, or when it was added).  Announcements are different from Upcoming Events. Forums are too combersome for just a list or "blog" of announcements

If blogs do what formums do, then for the basic user, it will be confusing to see a clear distinction when and where to use each.

 
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Picture of Bill Click
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
It seems like if you would increase by one your topic window, then title that new window "Announcements"; then under that you could list them in any order that you wished.  It would be more similar to a web posting, but you could pick your font, size & color to beautify it.
 
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Prince George, Cottonwood Island, royal coach
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Rah! Rah! Rah! Looking forward to your contributions.
 
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Self-portrait
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
"'Blog entries for specific classes' - that is exactly what forums are for and what they do well already..."

But I don't think that's true for my class. We do use forums for discussing assignments, technical stuff, the world, and lots of other topics that are appropriate for forums and specific to our class.
But I've given my students a Daily Self-Portrait assignment for our Digital Photography class, and I want them to keep a blog of their daily pictures which is (appropriately) separate from everyone else's pictures. I want my students to be able to actively browse each of the other student's pictures and comment on them. This way, each student has his or her OWN little space to post their work - and get comments - but each and every entry won't get sent to everyone in the class as forum posts do, and there's no chance of getting confused about whose pictures we're looking at, as could happen in a forum.
As it is now, we're stuck between two options that are not quite right for us, simply because comments aren't available in the blogs. Having this one simple feature, at least as an option that I could turn on for my class, would make a world of difference for me!

-Matthew
 
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Picture of Ludo (Marc Alier)
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Hi Martin,
I share your concern about "finding a rigth place for blogs" in moodle 's model.
But we have to consider that lots of users will have allready an idea abolut what blogging is.
I like the idea of NOT making blogs course contextual... One of the things missing in moodle are  tools for  binding  courses. Adn Blogs can be a way to it.
Here are some suggestions
- latest blog entries block
. by keyword , user, user preferences or course interests
. blog reading feedback ratio, entry voting or rating
. readings suggetions/bookmark block
. discussions can take place in a forum or wy not in a wiki page.
. a teacher could create a (course scope)activity consiting in debating a blog entry (within  or not  the site )
Do you want me to program some of these blocs? Last entries specially!
Regards
Ludo
 
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Picture of João Fernandes
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Yes Ludo, I think blogs can be the glue. The social constructionist framework doesn't invalidate individual expression and I believe Moodle should support more of an "spontaneous" and individual form of expression through blogs (for a start) and take it further, making it of social relevance and value.
In Warwick blogs there are some ideas of a face for blogs in Moodle that could make this happen. The blogs associated to user profiles could be aggregated and associated, connecting people. Despite all the confusion regarding the commenting on blogs in Moodle, I believe it should have it but with some changes. The alternatives Josep was suggesting:

"As I said, I think that the LINKING TO/FROM BLOGS and 'blog this' buttons look like promissing solutions for the current "blog isolation". I'm thinking that another possible alternative could be to allow comments but to limit them greatly in space (limit on the number of words) so that feedback/reaction is possible but the comments cannot develop into a full fledged discussion. Perhaps also only allow one comment per user or something similar."

made me think and/or agree that the blog creator shouldn't be able to comment comments and other users could only comment once or twice one blog post. There could also be the possibility that Martin suggested that a comment on a blog post should be a blog entry.

I believe creating group blogs should also be permitted.

The blog associated to the user profile is a good solution, and it could give a base por a personal area that could evolve later. For a start, I believe the user should be able to add blocks that provide some functionality (calendar, rss, html block, etc.)

The "blog this" function could be added with a kind of myblock, that is always with the user in every moodle page.

We have a good base to start, lets see how Moodle 1.6 blogs can be explored in real situations. Students and teachers feedback will help define the developers work.

J
 
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Picture of Barron Koralesky
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 

I think that Mark makes a good case for having comments in blogs here:
http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=40356


 
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Picture is dated.  More grey hair.
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
If you set a forum so that students can reply but not create discussions what you get is a set of statements, in reverse chronological order, each with an attached set of followup comments in chronological order.  That's practically the definition of a blog.

The idea of personal blog is nice, but I wonder if it could be done as a personal forum and reuse the basic forum code. Have it default so only the owner can start discussions and you've got your blog in a way that's consistent in look and feel with what people see within a course.
 
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Picture of Barron Koralesky
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 

True, a teacher can post and students can reply, but that forum type is only blog-like for the teacher, not a blog for the students.  At this point the forum code would need to be changed to allow for something like a blog-like "personal forum."

I think that the social constructivist aspects of student blogs is very important and would be lost if comments were not allowed.  Why would moodle not allow for users to comment on blogs?  Why not give the institution/admin/teacher the choice as to whether or not the blogs allow comments?


 
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Prince George, Cottonwood Island, royal coach
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
I concur. Choices, please.
 
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Martin in black and white
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Moodle HQGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers
New blocks are welcome! One for recent entries would be great.
 
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Picture of Ludo (Marc Alier)
New entries block comming through
 
You've got it,
dfwikiteam factory is working on it this morning (barcelona's morning) and I'm posting it in a few hours... cool
By the way can some of the blog core developers add a PERMALINK (link to the sema blog post for referencing) to the blog entry view ? I don't want to start hacking if is not extremelly necesary.
Ludo out
 
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Picture of Michael Penney
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group Developers
Firstly, there is a big conceptual overlap between a blog and a forum. See this listing of all the discussions you've started - it looks suspiciously like a blog. I am convinced that if we allow blogs to effectively be like user-centered forums that a lot of important discussion will float out the blogs (which are not course-based) and make "keeping up" with a particular course very difficult.

If you think keeping up with forums is hard now, imagine if every user has their own.

Not sure I get the reason this should be limited by Moodle? If a teacher wants to restrict course discussion to the course forum, surely she/he could just inform his/her students that only discussions in the course forum(s) will count toward participation.

If students want to have their own discussion of a course's topic outside of the course, why should the program make that more difficult? It seems to me that the face to face analogy of students discussing a course in the halls or the cafeteria can only be a good thing. Perhaps is more difficult to have a spontaneous group discussion (away from the teacher's view) in the online environment than in the face-to-face environment, if blogs could help fill this 'social networking' gap in the LMS, then why not let them?

 
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Picture of Michael Feldstein
Why should blogs and forums be different?
 
Playing the devil's advocate for a moment, if blogs and forums are so functionally similar, why must they be different tools? . I can take a non-threaded discussion board and turn it into a blog in three steps. First, I make the body of the first post in each thread appear along with the subject line in the topmost view of the discussion board. Next, I set the rule so that the posts always display in reverse chronological order of the first post. What I have at this point is a group blog. Anyone can post and the bodies of the post are displayed on one page in reverse chronological order. If I want to turn it into a traditional single-author blog, I need only take the last set of setting the permissions so that only I can start a new thread. With three changes, I have transformed a discussion board into a blog with commenting capabilities. The interesting aspect of this transformation is that highlights the choices we are ignoring by thinking about discussion boards and blogs as fundamentally different beasts. For example, are there situations in which I would want to take only the first step, making the body of the first post appear in the thread list but leaving all other features untouched?

I would argue that what is really needed is one conversation tool with a number of configurable options. You can certainly have a few presets, such as "blog" and "forum", but advanced users should be able to tweak the parameters to suit their needs.

 
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Picture of Michael Penney
Re: Why should blogs and forums be different?
Group Developers
I agree with Michael's sentiment. To me it should be up to the teacher to define in the course objectives whether they are going to keep track of student blogs, and again in an online setting, a student personal blog/forum should seems analogoust to the cafeteria/hallway/bar/sidewalk discussions students have in a face-to-face setting. I don't see why this should be prevented at a software level. In fact rather than a 'blog', how about each user getting their own forum instance, with default blog-like settings and CSS?

To also respond to the point of not wanting to duplicate Wordpress, I would say that from a support position, I would rather just support Moodle than have to support separate blog tools. In other words, if enough blog functionality could be built into Moodle so that most users wouldn't ask us to also support Wordpress, Yahoo groups, etc., it would be a good thingsmile.

I think this could be related to the argument for an integrated Moodle bug tracker, and in broader terms Jason's (as discussed at the Moodle Moot in Savannah) reasoning for a single system that provides all required learning tools rather than a collection of various tools linked via web serviceswink. It would mean that we just have to track and fix bugs in Moodle rather than tracking and fixing bugs in Wordpress, Postnuke, PHPBB, etc.
 
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Picture of N Hansen
Re: Why should blogs and forums be different?
 
For those of you who haven't seen it, we've been having a discussion of blogs in the language teaching forums. The problem for language teachers is not so much the issue of comments, but the fact that blogs are Moodle-wide, not course-specific. It limits their usefulness for us as teaching tools.
 
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Picture of Elena Ivanova
Re: Why should blogs and forums be different?
Group Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers

I totally agree,
I think that having multiple blog instances for one user  (and ability to x-post in several blogs right away), with comments that could be switched on/off, will make blogging much more useful. Later an instructor and a user can choose which option suits them the most.

If there will be only one blog per user, then we should have an option of more flexible selective release for individual posts  - therefore some posts will be private, others - visible to everyone, yet others  - will be available only to the specified user(s) or to the members of a custom-build group or class.
We already have this selective release in place (publish to the world or to the site). So, if we will add "publish to a course", or to a selected user(s) - it would serve the purpose.

 
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Not a PHM :-)
Re: Why should blogs and forums be different?
 

To also respond to the point of not wanting to duplicate Wordpress, I would say that from a support position, I would rather just support Moodle than have to support separate blog tools. In other words, if enough blog functionality could be built into Moodle so that most users wouldn't ask us to also support Wordpress, Yahoo groups, etc., it would be a good thing

As someone who administers several Moodle sites and hundreds of WordPress blogs, I would agree with the point that it would great if the Moodle blog were developed to the point of having the functionality of WordPress...but that will be a tough thing to do. Also, if (when) WordPress Mu gets to a stable state, then there wil be even less incentive to look for an alternative to WordPress.

 
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Picture of Michael Penney
Re: Why should blogs and forums be different?
Group Developers
HI Steve, I'm not really talking about duplicating all of the features of Wordpress, but rather being able to satisfy folks who come asking for a blog tool. Without comments, the Moodle 'blog' is not really a blog, with comments I think it could satisfy most of the folks at my institution, anyway.

Folks who really want all the features of Wordpress probably won't be satisfied, and will want a WP install. From the perspective of very limited staff resources, it would be nice to satisfy most of the requests with a simple tool that provides the most basic blog functions, while letting the folks who outgrow that tool move on to more specialized systems.
 
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Not a PHM :-)
Re: Why should blogs and forums be different?
 

Agreed...it's my experience that simple is best. Commenting (and in my opinion) comment moderation is a must for an effective blog tool. Otherwise, you really do just have a forum that looks different.

Steve

 
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Picture of Barron Koralesky
Re: Why should blogs and forums be different?
 

I agree with what Michael said:
Without comments, the Moodle 'blog' is not really a blog, with comments I think it could satisfy most of the folks at my institution, anyway.

I am very excited by the blog functionality, particularly since it can span courses and might therefore encourage a broader learning log (can we coin the term LLOG? wink) than a journal might have provided.  Recently I have had faculty comment that they want a reflective blog, as discrete journals did not encourage the students to integrate across the full extent of the course (both in time and content).

However, like others, I feel strongly that comments ought to be an option in some way.  Comments could allow for good constructivism in the Moodle blog realm. 

In the original posting, Martin D mentions:
DISCUSSION ON BLOGS: We need to make feedback on blogs easy and sensible. One idea is to have a blog this button on each blog entry as above (so a reply to a blog is your blog entry).

This seems like a very interesting option.  How would a response be noted in the originator's blog (the one that is being commented on)?  I am imagining that this could be rendered/viewed in any number of ways (as forums can be displayed many ways) -- as a thread with replies, as two individual blogs with links, or as "blogs I have commented on" a la coComment.

I worry a bit about limiting the number/duration/size of comments, as I don't want to presume how these will be used by teachers in their pedagogy and I wouldn't want to inhibit their use.  However, could things like that be site options? 

 
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Prince George, Cottonwood Island, royal coach
Re: Why should blogs and forums be different?
 
Now there's a thought. Allow learners to construct some of the course. Give everybody the power to blog and forum wherever they like. Maybe create a socket for interaction and let people park themselves in whatever car they like.
 
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Not a PHM :-)
Re: Why should blogs and forums be different?
 
You are missing a lot of blogging features in your 3-step approach. What you have is a rearranged discussion forum...not a blog. Of course, you do make a good point...that may be all that is needed.
 
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Picture of Matt Crosslin
Re: Why should blogs and forums be different?
 
If it gets published, this is some of the ideas I explore in an article I wrote for Moodle zine.   Blogs, discussions, and journals all do have the same underlying structure, just a different focus and a different interface (and that interface may have some different features plugged into it).

The key thing is the last comment you said - users should be able to tweak the parameters to suit their needs.  I have tried to talk to some teachers about the fact that a blog can be used as an online journal, but to no avail.  If a teacher wants a certain activity to function a certain way and be called a certian thing, sometimes that is all they are open to.  And then if they decide to not do a really good activity because "I hate blogs - I want a journal - and I don't want to use a forum for journals - because it's a forum, not a blog - etc - etc", then the only people that lose are the students.  Sometimes, all you have to do is roll your eyes (in your mind), and do what the teacher wants, so the students can benefit ultimately.  Forcing teachers to use a forum for blogging will ultimately only end up giving you a headache.  My depleated Advil stash is proof of that....

Ultimately, when you really dig into Moodle, you see that is where everything ends up anyway - the user can determine what they want, even if it is not the perfect pedagogical solution in the designers mind.  Blogs will end up there, too, but we need to take baby steps to get there.  I know I am always the one that is throwing out big, crazy ideas - but that's just the way I work.  I'm a major brainstormer.  I love the direction and pace that Moodle blog development is taking, personally.
 
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Picture of Joseph Fall
Re: Why should blogs and forums be different?
 
>> if blogs and forums are so functionally similar, why must they be different tools?

These are good points, and I think creating a generic "Discussion" module that can be configured in a variety of ways (including as a personal journal, public or private, with or without comments, etc.) is a very elegant solution to many of the needs identified here. (Perhaps it could include
a simplified interface to select from some popular, pre-defined configurations - discussion, blog, etc. , with "advanced" configuration options for those who want more flexability?)

But your original question was: what makes the blog different?
In my mind what seperates the blog tool in Moodle is its association with a person rather than a course. It has already been said in this forum that a blog may then provide a mechanism for students to rather effortlessly compile a portfolio of their writing across multiple courses. Or, to create a personal space for social networking and non-course-centric musings. These are very valuable contributions to Moodle.
It seems to me that cross linking is the key here - if a personal blog entry could also be identified as belonging to a particular discussion in a particular course, for example, then it could serve both as a personal reflection, stored as part of one's individual identy, and as part of a contribution to a particular course.
 
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Picture of Matt Crosslin
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
I think some of it goes to the growth of Web 2.0 "theology."  People are getting used to being able to comment on everything online.  I think, in the future, we may see that students will want to comment on EVERYTHING in Moodle - quizzes, resources, etc.  I know some teachers are already wanting that, too.  That's just the way the web is going.  "Blog this" really is a good way to achieve that, as long as there is a link in the activity, quiz, whatever that is being blogged about that says "3 blog entries on this quiz" etc.  Personally, I like the idea of forcing all commenting into a forum.

I'm also seeing more interest in growing the social side of Moodle.  In online classes, you lose a social element of F2F learning.  My manager actually commented that is would be great to see a social network, like MySpace, grow inside of Moodle.  He has a point.  MySpace is really a crazy, mutated blog.  So, someday, there may be a need for the blogger to have the ability to create multiple blogs, and their entries go to the blog that they designate (social blog, academic blog, my online fraternity blog, etc).  I know that initially that sounds like a headache to keep track of - but just look at MySpace.  People keep multiple accounts on there, and many of these accounts have links to eternal blogs that they also keep, and to a Facebook account, etc, etc.

I just finished a course that used blogs and forums effectively, and once you have seen that, you can see a difference between blogs and forums on a class level.  There is a degree of learning that can happen when students can read each other's thoughts.  As long as it is a small class, that is smile  (or groups are used effectively).  Once in use, you can see a difference between class discussions and class blogs.  It's subtle, but it does end up making a difference to the student.  A blog, even a class blog, is still your turf.  You are the one that controls it.  A discussion forum is the teacher's turf.  They control it.  An assignment is still too academic.  You can call the assignment a reflective journal, and it is still hard to actually reflect in it the way that you do in a blog.

Blogs are becoming popular in education for many reasons. The reasons that I am seeing (working at a university) are that they allow the teacher to look into a students learning process to see how they are learning.  And then, you can allow students to benefit from each other process.  The results just aren't the same once you call it an assignment.  It becomes too formal.  And there is a need for a formal assignemnt - but you call that a paper.  And there's no way to see the process - just the final product.  The same also holds true for forums.  They are still the teacher's domain, and students don't feel as free to open up their thought process in them.  i don't know how to explain that, but that's the results I have seen (and now experienced myself).  There just is a difference between a forum and blog.  Sometimes it's hard to put in words.  But my replies to a discussion question were totally different to my blog posts on the same subject.  And the comments were different from the replies.  It's hard to explain, but I think it comes down to the fact that somewhere in our mental wiring, a reply is different than a comment, and reflection is different than discussing.  Many people cross the line, and that's perfectly okay.  But there also seems to be something different in the wiring of our brains that makes it to where we can't just force ourselves to use a discussion interface to blog.

But I think it all come down to the fact that blogs are your "turf" and forums are the teacher's "turf."  I'm not a psycologist, so I can't explain it more than that.
 
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Picture of N Hansen
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Interesting post Matt, especially about it being the student's turf versus the teachers' turf. I wonder if students who are normally shy to post in forums are more likely to use a blog, and vice versa. It would be interesting to study this. I'm wondering whether this isn't something that could be implemented with roles though. Give the students their own forums to run.
 
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Picture of Chris Lott
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
"But I think it all come down to the fact that blogs are your "turf" and forums are the teacher's "turf."

This is really fundamental. In my experience, students tend to post more often to blogs because it is "their" space. I enjoy the fact that they can customize their blogs to suit their personality.

In the end, I'm not sure I will use ANY integrated blog tool. For one thing, a mark of success for me is that a student continues to blog long after my class is over. There is a value to many kinds of blog activity that go across many classes-- and outside the classroom.

That being said I don't mind that blog discussions are a bit messy (I prefer that by far to the artificial, linear neatness of discussion boards), chaotic, that some entries catch fire and some don't, that some questions go unanswered and others over-answered, that sometimes posts are just ruminations not meant for response... it's like real life conversations that way. I think we sometimes have artificial expectations about participation and neatness when using discussion boards.
 
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Picture of Michael Feldstein
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
This is why I like the idea of a student blog that is fundamentally external to the course but with the capability of displaying individual post/comment threads within the course space as well based on a course tag. Fundamentally, the students own the posts and any comments that are generated from them. You simply make it easy to share relevant posts within the course space to reduce the required information-hunting.
 
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Picture of Chris Lott
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
What of life beyond the course? The institution? It might make more sense to work better ways to integrate third party blog posts...
 
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Picture of Take Knol
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
I should like to leave my old courses around, so people who have been attending a class can keep in touch with eachother and give us some nice contactpoints outside our organisation. I don't like to delete accounts either. Maybe I change my view of this when I have couple of thousend ancient courses and even more non-active users.

I think that making a socialforum inside of moodle is very valuable for old students, that is eventually a reason for them to become a (re)new student. It can even be a way for your current students to get in contact with your old students who are inside the real world now.


 
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Martin in black and white
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Moodle HQGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers
Just a little half-thought here, but I wonder what would happen if we allowed each person to specify the RSS of their external blog, and somehow threw that into our blog grinder.
 
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Picture of Samuli Karevaara
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group DevelopersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Translators
Yes, the "course blog" for example, could be an aggregate of registered RSS feeds with a certain tag. That way those who don't have a blog could use the Moodle blog and a category (like "programming 101"), others could use their external Wordpress blog with the same tag for example.

I'd also like to explore the possibility of implementing an "export to Wordpress" feature for Moodle blogs, for the blog posts at least.
 
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Picture of Michael Penney
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group Developers
I wonder if that could be part of IMS ePortfolio or something similar (IMS Blog?).
 
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Martin in black and white
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group DevelopersGroup Documentation writersGroup Moodle HQGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers
Interesting line to think along.  Does RSS support keywords/tags?
 
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Picture of Michael Feldstein
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
RSS supports categories, which can be used as tags. 
 
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Picture of Michael Feldstein
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
I think that would be a terrific first step. Student posts could be aggregated as thread starters in a discussion forum within the course environment. In the long run, though, I still believe that students should own the entire spawned thread as part of their long-term portfolios. This could be done, but it would require working with blog manufacturers (the Wordpress project being a good place to start) to push existing standards in new directions. The Atom syndication format is rich enough to represent threading. If Ray Ozzie's Simple Sharing Extensions for RSS were ported to Atom (work that I believe may already be underway), then one could mirror the blog thread with a thread in a discussion board. The same mechanism could be used for Moodle-internal blogs.

I believe this capability would have broader utility than just VLE's. If you think about tools like CoComment and even trackback, it's clear that people are thinking about different ways to have distributed conversations.
 
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Picture of Matt Crosslin
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Nice idea.  I just finished a session on WebCT's new portfolio system (I was listening to you at the US Moodle Moot, but my boss wanted me at the WebCT thing, so alas...).  They let students pull everything they want into the portfolio, and then the student can go through and designate who sees what.  So here's another half idea.  What if students just do a blog, import blog entries from external blogs, and then see it all in one place.  Then the student goes through and designates who sees what.  They alreay do that as they are posting, but what if there was also a general overview panel, that allows for changes, and included the RSS feeds they have thrown in there?  Now, the WebCT thing did that on a person-by-person level.  That's too much, but it would be an interesting concept to explore personalized blog view creation, kind of like the new Roles system uses.  May end up being a stupid idea, but just thought I'd throw it out.
 
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Picture of Matt Crosslin
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
I think blogging beyond the course is great.  But not in all situations.  For example, the course that I was in - it was called The Instructional Technology Consultant.  Our blog was about what we were thinking as we did the projects in the course.  So, there was information about the course included in my reflections.  If people outside of the course can see that, it can lead to cheating - people getting ahead on a course before they take it, and having an advantage over future students.  Noe, of course, my instructor recommended we use blogger, so I guess he can't complain smile  And really, why would you need to blog about your thought processes on a certain course once the course is over?

But that is the good thing about the Moodle blogging system being centralized - students that begin to see the benefit of blogging can continue doing it, even if it expands to other subjects, personal or academic.

Also, I know that some students will be more free in sharing their thoughts about a class if they know that only people in that class can see that blog post.  For example, the college freshman that doesn't want a more experienced student to see their posts and then make fun of them for being "stupid", "inexperienced", etc.  Now, would that really happen?  Probably not.  But people tend to be paranoid, and I can easily see new students (to a particular subject) being afraid of "looking stupid" in the eyes of the advanced students (in the same subject).  It's all mental paranoia really, but something that can affect learning. I haven't found the feature in Moodle that allows the blog post to only be viewed by people in a particular class, but I've read it's there.  I think it would be great if a Blog assignment could be integrated in the flow of a lesson just like a forum can be.  For example, students are reading through the assignments, they finish Assignment 3, and then the instructions are "submit a blog entry on your thought processes as you completed Assignment 3."  Instead of having to go to the profile and enter the blog entery, they just press the "next" button on the navigation menu, and it automatically brings up the blog feature.  They write the blog, publish it, and then tell that entry to display inside of the activity "Blog Entry on Assignment 3", and then click on the "Next" button to move on to Assignment 4.

This would also be helpful for the instuctors who read the blog entry.  Instead of digging through 15 profiles to find all the entries for that activity, they can just click on the activity is self and see what has been entered,  There really doesn't have to be a real, sperate activity here - just php coding that pulls in the appropriate blog entry for the teacher (and other students) to see.  Because, if a teacher sets up a class like this, there will probably be reflection blogs on Assignment 4, Assignment 5, etc.

The only problem with the blog assignment that I did in my class was that it was on a 3rd party blog site.  It was too time consuming to track all the blogs (especially without RSS).  If it could have been set up the way that Moodle integrates forums into a class (especially with the unread post feature) - that would have been sweet!
 
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Picture of Chris Lott
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
This is going to turn into a pedagogy discussion having little to do with moodle. No, blogging beyond the course is not necessary in every course for everyone, but it is for mine. I want students blogging in the context of the rest of their lives. If dealing with confidential information in some way, then I would likely use a discussion board, which I think works better in a restricted format.

It's not really my experience that students are more likely to contribute when the output is limited. Or I should say that they may participate more, but the quality is lower. I think the performance obligations in a public space and having the freedom of feeling that it is THEIR space makes for higher quality.

I'd never structure or deliver a course in a way that reading previous blogs would give students a significant step up in any way except, perhaps, seeing what good blog posts look like. Clearly this is easier in some content areas/classes than others. I LIKE having that previous work available, yet another reason the integrated blogs become problematic.

But this is just my own use-- I'm glad to see moodle taking a look at these issues and hope that most of the "limitations" from each perspective become options for instructors...
 
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Picture of Samuli Karevaara
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group DevelopersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Translators
"I LIKE having that previous work available, yet another reason the integrated blogs become problematic."

If the intellectual property issues are not considered, I would see it to be easier, not harder, (technologically) to have the previous work available if it's integral to the system. If it's elsewhere, it's harder to gather in one place plus it's usually eaten by the link-rot.
 
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Picture of Chris Lott
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Theoretically, yes. But the reality is that course systems, for various reasons, tend to have windows of availability tied to the student status or a reasonable period of time thereafter. Most admins don't want to be in the business of lifetime archiving.

Given that reality, an easy way to integrate external blogs by category/tag/keyword would seem the most flexible way to bring material in but still have it available after the window of the class (or the student's registration or affiliation) closes.
 
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Prince George, Cottonwood Island, royal coach
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Ah, yes, the old competition-cooperation dichotomy.

I had an idea for a course on K-12 DE that woud allow learners to add to a database of papers and such in the field and would make forums from previous courses available to learners in future courses. I even had the idea of letting the forums spill out of the course, at least allowing previous course participants to continue contributing to course forums. Terry Anderson at Athabasca University is talking about something similar with one of his courses, using a community in Me2U (AU's Elgg installation) to bring discussion out of the classroom and into the lobby.

It's all great and I'm all for it, except that the thought experiment reveals a fatal flaw in the context of today's job market. Later participants would, potentially, have the advantage over earlier participants. Potentially. Of course, if the process spilled out, everyone would benefit to some degree.

It's tricky.

I still plan to pursue the idea for the course.
 
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Picture of N Hansen
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Here's a blog post about blog comments (and a bunch of comments on that). While not the same as an educational blog, it still gives some idea about the general population's feelings about blogs and commenting that I think offers a wider perspective.
 
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Picture of web master
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
If you use a "Blog this" on all pages, PLEASE provide a way to turn off blogs completely.  This has the potential of becoming very distracting in a public classroom and unfortunately, will prevent many teaches from using the other wonderful tools of Moodle.  Teachers must have a choice of whether to enable or disable the blog feature across their courses.
 
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Picture of David Barber
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
I agree completely. Here's my thought on how the blogging should work:

1 - teacher can label a particular part of the class 'blog-able'
2 - student clicks on 'blog this' link
3 - a line entry appears in the class saying 'student x posted a blog entry on this'. Within the forum you could then expand both the blog entry -and- any comments responding to it. Probably also useful to have a 'suppress this comment/entry' option for the teacher - simple visibility option.
4 - the blog then has comments, like a forum. The question is simply whether the entire tree is replicated (and I would use the 'node' (a la ezpublish) or 'spode' (this looked like the same idea) model, to save space).
5 - obviously, the student has control over how visible their post is, which would override the class visibility (allowing them to, for example, click the blog this link in a class, then hide their response until it is ready). Perhaps the comments should also have a visibility setting to determine whether they can be seen in the classroom view, or only the blog view. This allows the same tree to exist in two spheres, and although everything can be seen simply by moving between the classroom view and the student blog view, conceptually it allows people to know whether thay are in the public or pseudo-private sphere.

Regardless, I think blogs without comments (and permalinks! Are there permalinks?!) are not really useful.

Just my $0.02
David
 
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me
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 

I love freedom of information.

I think the teacher should  be free to see every bit of information written while the students are in her class under her guidance.

In our district blogs seem to be a medium where the children do not understand they are being watched and graded on their comments.

I want more control to insure that they blogging is limited to on topic, teacher generated, discussions that are appropriate for the classroom.

 

 
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Picture of Eliyahu Mitterhoff
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
This has been a very interesting discussion. One solution I thought of is, to allow the blogger to decide if their blog post is classroom material. There should be a drop down menu with the default being "not course related" and then a list of the bloggers courses. If a course is chosen then comments can only be made in the course "blog forum" which has is a list (forum index) of all "relevant blog posts".  As mentioned above this could also be done with tags but it might get messy.

Really the whole thing is silly but  blogging allows us to be more personal because we feel we are in control so its important to allow an outlet for this. As mentioned above a blog post is in the members "domain" . The advantage of what I suggested is that people get to have a personal blog inside moodle but keep relevant course material in the course. The down side is that only course members can comment on a course related post.

One thing for sure is, that a blog without comments is not a blog. If we are looking to attract members to a nitch learning community by offering them blogs it cant be done without also offering comments on the blogs.

I also feel their should be a general "course member's blog entries block" for new blog entries and comments of all course members to create cohesiveness in the class.

Whatever is decided I hope some sort of commenting is going to be offered soon. Other "social networking" software solutions are developing rapidly with similar features and moodle does not want to get left in the dust. I also wish the blogs had more cutting edge functions and looks. These kind of things are very important to younger members. (and me smile )
 
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Picture of Eliyahu Mitterhoff
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
So what is the conclusion? Are the blogs going to have comments or not? I think it would be a big mistake to not allow comments. Most bloggers would not be very excited about blogging if they knew they were going to get zero feedback. I hope this is no going to take years.
 
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Picture of Juliette Culver
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Can I put in a quiet vote for comments on Moodle blogs? smile

I'm not concerned about the overlap between blogs and forums. It's about ownership and location more than whether the communication is possible.

It'd be nice to have a way to read other blogs from the same installation within Moodle too (like Elgg or LiveJournal friends pages I guess).
 
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Picture of Hartmut Häfele
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Hello Juliette,

"Can I put in a quiet vote for comments on Moodle blogs?
I'm not concerned about the overlap between blogs and forums. It's about ownership and location more than whether the communication is possible."

I second that smile

Many greetings,
Hartmut
 
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Picture of Joseph Fall
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Having waded through this entire discussion (and making a few comments on specific posts along the way), I thought I'd offer my 2-bits. Nothing terribly new here, but a summary of what I found most intriguing:

1) I have been using the blog feature myself to see how it could be used pedagogically. I have been posting musings about the teaching and learning process - (things often discussed in the hall or over coffee, and then lost). It is very valuable that students from ALL my courses can access and follow my blog. However, several students (and several of my collegues who discovered my blog) have said they so wanted to make a comment on what I'd said that week.
Key points:
  • Having an online conversation (well, monologue in this case) outside any course, but within the context of the LMS has been useful.
  • Some mechanism for adding comments is essential.
2) This term I am having my students keep a weekly journal to reflect on their experiences in my course. I am using the blog (as opposed to a forum) for the following reasons:
  • It is their own personal space - they control it, they own it - so I think the feel more comfortable posting their personal reflections there.
  • The forums become part of the course content - students are supposed to keep up on all the postings. The blogs are not - they are between myself and individual students.
  • Although students can see each other's postings, they are less likely to scan everyone else's before making their own, encouraging better self-reflection. (BTW, blog posting options should include "only to participants in course X" and "only to instructor for course X").
  • The blog allows a write-reflect-edit-post cycle, because you can post an entry for private viewing only, then edit it and make public later - that's not possible with forums.
  • I find it easier to follow the progression for a particular student through their blog. In the forums, student postings would be mixed together, and I can look at one participants forum postings, but this jumbles all their forum posts together. The blog let's me follow their individual "train of thought" through time.
3) The blog is currently a bit isolated - it should be able to be integrated into a course, at an instructors discretion. Some items I saw discussed here that would be tremendous:
  • An option to turn on "blog this" and "X blog posts on this" links in a course or resource / activity
  • An option to submit a blog post (or series of posts?) to an assignment for a particular course for grading
  • An option to submit a blog post (and its comments?) as a discussion topic to a particular forum in a particular course.
4) Finally, I read a lot of comments about limiting the functionality of blogs to ensure they didn't turn into forums. I think these are largely "short-cut" solutions to deal with perceived problems. I would encourage Moodle developers to continue this disucssion and create a solid model that integrates well with the rest of Moodle and provide more options and flexability, rather than an artificially limited environment - let the instructors have the option to impose restrictions for pedagogic reasons, but do not impose those restrictions on us.

Those are my thoughts, I am happy with the Moodle blog - it has actually made my pedagogic toolbox a little bigger - but I'm even happier to hear all this great discussion about how to make it even better!!!
 
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Picture of Eric Fino
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Um ... I have to whole-heartedly disagree with this move to not include comments. I think you have good intentions but ...

To me, it makes more sense to notice how people use something and add functionality to enhance that, not restrict functionality to force your viewpoints of how people should be using something.

Today, someone posted their diffuculties with their homework assignment to their blog. Now, there is no way for anyone else to express they had similar difficulties or suggest a solution for that person. Currently, they have to leave the page and enter a discussion or forum. They can also post a seperate blog entry that can end up several posts away and gives no indication without reading the entire entry that the two are related. The current approach is so disconnecting and it cripples the entire social flow.

Besides, what makes a Blog different from a Forum is not commenting. Their difference is conceptual. Blogs are a place to publish and share personal thoughts, ideas and experiences. A Forum is a place for people to post content or topics of interest to start discussions. The technology behind them is exactly the same. They are both basically CMS. Commenting is just an added funtionality that lets other users interact with other users who read that post, making it SOCIAL SOFTWARE. Removing that functionality from either one decreases the value of each one equally.

If your idea is to integrate chatting or forums with blog entries to create a social outlet, I think you need to do that today or just get rid of the Blog all together. I really see no value in a GROUP blog that restricts social interaction.

... Or maybe everyone should just use WordPress. Thanks for the suggestion!
 
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Picture of pat joyce
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
I would also like to support the call to add commenting to blogs, without it they just seem to be a bit broken.
 
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Picture of Steve Wright
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 

I would also support commenting in blogs - I really thought/assumed it was there as it's well not a blog without it!

I also believe it could be very good to have it for self-access courses where the self-reflective learning journal would be the focus of recording by self-access learners. Enabling comments would then allow a level of interaction users between self-access learners (rather than a public forum which needs a critical mass of users and some regulars and ideally some old-hands to really make them run as they do so well here on moodle.org).

This is just an idea but I'd agree more broadly that enabling features and then allowing a convener to turn them off should they agree with Martin's view allows more flexibility in use and trying out appraches rather than locking them out from the start.

 
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Picture of Markus Koller
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
my opinion is quite simple: if you can't comment, don't call it a blog. call it personal news, everything else is confusing.

when i hear blog, my first thought is: "oh, sounds like wordpress"...but then it turns out, that moodle blogs are just personal news with rss feeds and tags.
 
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Picture of Michael Penney
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group Developers
Just browsing the blog tags in Moodle again, and saw some folks talking about development, I would have liked to comment on their blogs,--but we still can't do that.

So I'd like to ask again for comments on blogs, please, please, please.

By the way, this is http://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-8776, folks could go vote on it if they have timesmile.


 
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Picture of A. T. Wyatt
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Done!
atw
 
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Art Lader
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group Documentation writers
I have voted. Comments would be good, but in our secondary school environment, we might need to moderate al comments. Could get very time-consuming, I guess, but that's probably a good problem, right?

-- Art
 
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Picture of Brett Hinton
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
You have my vote for blog comments. It seems like enabling the commenting system for those worried about moderation could be a sitewide setting, similar to how the sitewide blog visibility setting works. (I'm sure someone had already thought of that smile )
 
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Martin "Sam" Samuelsson
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
And my vote's been cast, too.

One thing our customer really, really likes about the built-in blogs is the ability to make them world readable. I'm a bit worried that the general course-centricism of Moodle will make it difficult to make discussions coupled to the forum system publicly accessible, but I'm hoping I'm wrong.

 
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Picture of David Powell
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
[I visited the voting site and noted that you can only vote 'for'.
I left the following comment there. It probably belongs better here.
I'm not fantatical about blogs. If they tempt or tease students into initial efforts, then they should also rapidly steer them to more egalitarian arenas, whenever this is appropriate.]

I believe that mechanisms should be in place to make any public posted entry as accessible as possible.
For this, forums are better than blogs, because they're topic rather than person-based.
When it comes to replies, blog 'comments' are presented as subordinate to the poster, who owns the head entry.
Forums are more egalitarian.
Moodle should concentrate efforts on forums, because they are 'best practice' for collaborative discussion, irrespective of web fashion.
However, given that ideas do get written into blogs, it should be possible to respond to them. All the better if the mechanism ensures that the entry also makes it into a topic-based forum, from where it can be taken up by others who didn't chance by the blog.
 
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University of Strathclyde
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
David,

Your logic that postings should be made in an "egalitarian" manner presupposes you know what others want to use blogs and comments for. One installation I'm running uses blogs for academics to record their research as it progresses. This would be considerably enhanced if colleagues were able to add comments or ask questions. This isn't really the place for egalitarianism. A researcher's work is his/her own and is often their professional raison d'être and they would very much see this as primarily their area to discuss their work. Incidentally, in this case the ability to add tags to researchers' work is invaluable as colleagues who were not aware of a shared research interest see this flagged up very easily - a facility not available in a forum.

A forum may, or may not be, as you say " 'best practice' for collaborative discussion", but that is not necessarily what everyone wants them for.

Howard Ramsay
 
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Self-portrait
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
What's beautiful to me about Howard's comment is that the work in his example is so different from the work that my students do, and yet the need he describes matches the need in my class' situation precisely.

To me, this should be a no-brainer:
MAKE THE COMMENTS FEATURE AN OPTION THAT ADMINISTRATORS HAVE CONTROL OVER.

-Matthew Clowney
 
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Art Lader
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group Documentation writers

> MAKE THE COMMENTS FEATURE AN OPTION THAT ADMINISTRATORS HAVE CONTROL OVER

Yep, that would be great.

-- Art

 
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Picture of Joshua Wilson
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Frankly, blogs aren't useful if they aren't a place for communication, and if there are no comments, there is no communication.

Please put the commenting function on blogs.
 
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Picture of Doug Holton
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Yeah I can't believe there are still no comments on blogs

 
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simpsons_avatar2
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
I teach physics with a constructivist pedagogy (called modeling physics, www.modelingteachers.org, modeling.asu.edu) and I used moodle to support the course for the first time last year. Next year, my focus is on giving students options for mentally engaging in the course, by which I mean examining their own ideas, finding what's right about them and what needs to be changed, and watching their own ideas evolve over time.

Some portion of my students do this naturally and also readily engage in student-to-student discussion and debate. Many others are intimidated by physics and have low confidence when putting their ideas forward publicly. They find it difficult to participate in in-class discussions or even forums because they are afraid that their ideas will be quickly shot down. I want to use blogs to give them a more private way to mentally engage and to give them control over a process of gradually engaging more publicly. For this reason, I really like the feature of the blogs that allows students to choose who can view their post.

I will be grading their "participation/mental engagement" but I will give them options about how to earn their grade. They can earn it with a blog (private or public), through forum postings, through student-to-student debate in class, or if all else fails by throughly correcting and discussing their test results. I want them to be in control of how they choose to earn the grade and I hope that they will move up the ladder towards more public engagement as they gain confidence. It will be an interesting experiment.

HERE'S THE PART ABOUT BLOG FEATURES: OK. If you made it through all of that background, here's the part about blog features that would support the way I use this.
  • "Publish to Yourself (draft)" doesn't quite capture the meaning of what I want. I have edited the language file to change this to "Publish to Yourself (Journal)" After all, a private blog is a journal and a public e-journal is a blog. "Draft" seems to indicate a step in the process of completing a more formal assignment like a paper, which is not what I want the blog to be.
  • I want to use the Official Tags to allow students to tag certain blog entries as their desired response to participation for a given assignment/week/context. I want to be able to click on the tag and see all entries with the same tag, but currently the tags don't show up in the tag block unless at least one student publishes to site or world. I tried to figure out how to change this behavior without success. Any suggestions of how to edit the php files?
  • A grading option would be helpful, but it would be ideal to give the student the option to select which entries they would like me to grade. I would also like to be able to comment on the student blog entries, at least they ones they select for me to grade. Since students can choose blog, forum or class debate for their participation grade, their final grade will be entered somewhere else, probably an offline assignment. I would proably grade the blog with a non-numeric scale of my own creation, so commenting is more important than grading as a blog feature.
  • Once a student chooses to publish an entry to the course, I would like for other students to be able to comment and to easily move the chain of comments into a forum if the topic becomes hot, creating a couple easier steps along the way towards more public debate.

The blog works better than the journal activity for my needs because the journal can't easily be made public. The journal is less open to ongoing reflection and tracking evolution of thought because the student can't control when to start a new journal entry. I create the journal, and the students respond to my prompt on a single page. However, the student or teacher can review multiple student journals on a single page.

The online text assignment is even worse because it gets mixed in with other assignments. I haven't been able to find a place where I or the students can see all of their online assignments on a single page.

In summary, even as currently implemented, I think the blogs are an improvement over the old journal and the new online assignment. Their main advantage is that they support ongoing reflection and give the student control over who can see their work (and potentially which entries to put forward for grading). This allows for a more gradual evolution from informal to formal writing and from private musing to public discussion. I would like to see commenting and grading options. This still wouldn't replace the online assignment and journal functions, which provide for a single response to a specific teacher prompt. However, if online assignments are to completely replace journal, moodle needs to provide a way to see all of a students online assignments in a single page.
 
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Picture of D.I. von Briesen
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Matt-

ASU caught my eye as i'm doing some stuff with Appstate, but turns out you're on the other side of the country!

Folks like you are pushing the envelope a bit, and as I've discovered in converting courses from BB to Moodle en masse, everybody's got their thing. A few hacks, if you will, off the top:

- the assignment (online text) is actually pretty versatile if you use it right- what i've had students to do journal is simply type in each entry at the top and put the date as in
28MAY - PLUGGING AWAY
Today i did such and such, and it was hard....

22MAY- RAINING OUTSIDE
Wet dog smells a lot... wet cat is even worse, but they've the sense...

So you end up with something in reverse chronology, which does allow editing, and grading, and even attachments if you choose that option - not to mention email reminders to you to go check them out.

If you have them pick other places, you can still use the assignment as a place for them to cut and paste the URL of the work the did (wherever they did it) - and then you're only a click away from it (right click to open in new page, then give grade on original page, with your feedback). Otherwise it's tricky to have to pick between 2-3 options- though one hack would be to make 2/3 extra credit, and then they'd get a score for at least one, (so if each were worth 10 pts, anyone doing one would have 10, and that would be out of 10).

You could always just have them create a blogger account to, and link from the assignments text are to that blog, or have them put a link in their moodle profile.

Cheers,

d.i.


 
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Picture of Carl Keil
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Hi,

Are blog comments coming in version 1.9, or not? I could have sworn I saw that on the site somewhere a while back, and now it's gone.

Thanks,

ck

 
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Picture of Lisa Pedicini
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Have blog comments arrived? Teachers want them.
 
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ehtesham
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
I have gone through the above discussion and not come the conclusion whether moodle will have commenting features in blogs or not? Or if it is already there how we can enable in 1.8.2 version as in my organisation there is a huge demand for this.

Thanks
 
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Just wondering . . .
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers
Mohd:
Not exactly when it appeared, but this is in the 2.0 roadmap:
  • Blog 2.0
Add commenting to blogs (MDL-8776), as well as support for external blogs
The Issue referred to here is this:
It would be great to be able to enable comments on blogs, without comments we are constantly explaining to users why they can't find the 'turn comments on' button as comments are such a standard feature of blogs.

The lack of this feature leads support staff to prefer to disable the blog tool than to answer frequent complaints and requests to enable comments.

I would suggest that if Moodle blogs are not going to have comments they be renamed something like "Personal Notes" so that users don't confuse them with blogs.

There is a vote for this enhancement at the end of the link as well.

I think it is looking good, and heading in the right direction.
There are a lot of subtleties in the discussion in the 103 posts in this thread, as well as a lot of posts echoing the description in the issue. ie allow comments or rename the thing.

I wonder what 'support for external blogs' means? - Derek



 
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Picture of Grant Wiggins
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
I fully agree with those who have explained that a blog is a public sharing, for the benefit of others. And as some previous posters have noted, a Journal was private.

I think this issue is a bit of a challenge, from the perspective of user-friendliness. Asking students to both blog and keep a private journal seems a bit onerous - not likely that either will get maximum attention. My own view is that the blog should have a default setting that makes it open to the public (or the course, if that was the setting) but can be overridden by the student in some cases from the dropdown, to permit all ongoing writing to be in one easy place.

BTW: I would presume 'external blogs' refers to wordpress, blogger, etc.
 
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Just wondering . . .
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers
Grant said:
BTW: I would presume 'external blogs' refers to wordpress, blogger, etc.
Yes, I guessed that. What is support?

Single sign on? Opening up in a Moodle window somehow? RSS feeds? (which I think we already have)? Moodle like branding? One click INSIDE Moodle to create a blog for a student??? Great possibilities.

It's a conundrum: Wordpress is an incredible blog: the user forums, the transparency of development, the care with which development occurs: a Moodle blog will never compete with this. (Ditto for wkis)
I think I'd lke WP as a blog facility for Moodle inhabiting students - if it was done right. What I think we have in Moodle is a mis understanding of what a blog is as it has evolved.

On another issue Grant: I agree about onerousness. What happens if a student is in 4 courses, and each uses a blog and requires a journal? I'd like a student to know about the concept of blog, comment, tag, category - and have ONE blog.
In course X it is filtered with this tag.
But I think this may be a bot much for most students.
 
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Just wondering . . .
Re: Blogs and comments (More blog stuff)
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers
This crossed my attention today:
A whole bunch more posts on blogs, and something called the OYUBlog from the open university.
In the developers forum: http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=94623

And this from February about the OUBlog code:

Saturday, 16 February 2008, 02:14 AM
Glad you're interested. The software doesn't actually exist yet, but is being written now. Not quite sure I am allowed to say who's doing the work, we sometimes have bizarre restrictions, although it's probably okay... but just in case, it is a competent development company that's quite well known in the moodle community, so I think it will be a good job.

Hopefully the resulting module will be pretty good! There are definitely course teams here that are eager to have it.

We're planning to release it (in our system and as contrib) in April, after testing etc. I'll post about it in the general developer forum once it's available.
From Sam Marshall.
http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=89653&parent=399545

Maybe the code is out there somewhere to try?
-Derek

 
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Picture of Adele Thomas
Re: Blogs and comments (More blog stuff)
 

I love the idea of being able to identify blog entries as as an assignment submission, or as a discussion, or as a personal reflection. Moodle can create appropriate cross-links and help keep students organized. It will also help the students learn how and what to share. Great idea especially when combined with the earlier idea of "blog this"!

I found this link helpful, thanks for sharing!

http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=89653&parent=4396508

 
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avatar
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
Is there any chance for implementation of the short/long post system (like in the News forum on the Front Page) for the blogs' index pages (global an user specific)?

Some of the posts may be very long and it will be much better if they are collapsed in this way especially with comment ability enabled.
 
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Picture of Penny Bright
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
 
I agree with you that such system is necessary. Read a very long post is sometimes uncomfortable.
 
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Picture of Nadav Kavalerchik
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group DevelopersGroup Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup TestersGroup Translators
"comments in system/personal blogs"patch:
http://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-21206
 
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Picture of Jonathan Konrad
Re: Blogs: Blogs and comments
Group Moodle Course Creator Certificate holders
I followed the tracker discussion here

"comments in system/personal blogs"patch:
http://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-21206

I don't suppose there would be an easier way to get all that done? Perhaps a mod or what looked like a mod. So I could upload a package to the mod folder. Then go to notifications, and have Moodle build the table and copy the edits?

I guess that's too much. However, I'd love comments on the default blogs. OR have students able to upload images in various activities and have those stored in the moodledata folder.

Thanks for this though. I'm trying to do it!
 
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