Wednesday, November 01, 2006

NLB (Staff) Learning Festival: Creating blogs with Blogger.com

As part of an internal "Learning Festival" for NLB staff, the NLB Academy organised a series of brief "Learning Hours"/ Sharing Sessions conducted by staff, for staff. I was asked to conduct a three-hour session on "Blogging", specifically on how to create a blog with Blogger.com. I was happy to see the class fully subscribed (20+ colleagues), some of them senior staff. It was a hands-on session, pretty much like the previous sessions I've conducted except that this focused more on using Blogger.com.

With only three hours, I decided to skip the "theoretical" stuff and tried to get the class jump right into Blogger.com. Of course, to set the context, I made them read the ST article of an interview with George Yeo, on his motivations for blogging (Oct 13, 2006. "George Yeo gets personal online: The Foreign Minister's foray into blogging has created a buzz among netizens. What is a Cabinet minister doing in the messy online world, Lynn Lee asks"). I chose this article as it's well-written, in a light-hearted manner, by the journalist (like a blogger). More important, it captured some essential points on blogging in the context of the session I was asked to share. These two points were pointed out when I asked the class to share what struck them most from reading the article:
Three rules guide him: 'Don't be controversial, don't touch on policy matters which involve organisations, and don't be nasty to people.'

He confesses he felt 'self-conscious, as if the world was watching', the first few times he posted. But he soon realised 'the whole world is not watching and not many people are interested'.

The session was also peppered with Questions and Answers, like "How do I know what my child is blogging?", "How do I locate/ search for blogs?", "Can blogs be set as private?", "Why do people blog?", "How much time does it take up?". The usual questions that are asked by those new to blogs and blogging.

From the feedback forms, it seems my colleagues enjoyed the session. About a quarter to a third even suggested a longer and more in-depth session. Someone requested that I email the slides I used, so that she can share with her colleagues back in her department. I've since emailed her. They were simply screen-shots of the process of registering with Blogger.com. I thought I might as well post them in my blog. The steps are correct as of 1st Nov 2006 (when Blogger.com will cut over to the new Blogger Beta, which might have a different interface).

*** UPDATE - See New Blogger Features (Dec 2006)

Click on the images for the larger-sized screenshots:

Step 1 - Blogger - Login/ Create Blog
Blogger - Login/ Create Blog
This is where you you create a blog, or login to your Blogger account - Blogger.com (additional notes in Flickr.com - click here)

Blogger - Step 1 in Creating An Account
Blogger - Step 1 in Creating An Account
You are required to choose a User Name for your blogger account. Blogger uses Image Verification rather than Email Verification in accepting accounts. The email you enter is for things like "password reminder" rather than for creating an account with Blogger. If your preferred User Name has been taken, you'd be required to enter an alternative. Your User Name does not necessarily have to be your Blog Name or Display Name (i.e. you may wish to choose something totally unrelated to your blog name for additional security).

Blogger - Step 2: Name your blog
Blogger - Step 2: Name your blog
Here, you're required to enter a Title for your blog and the blog URL (these can be changed later; for the URL it will be subject to availability, so it's best to choose wisely at this stage). The Word Verification is a feature for blogger to ensure it's a human being that's creating an account, rather than an automatic program (spambot).

Blogger - Step 3: Choose a template
Blogger - Step 3: Choose a template
Click on any of the design. Tip -- you can always choose a new template, so simply choose anyone to proceed and complete your registration/ blog creation process. My observation is that most "Blogger newbies" spend way too much time at this stage, and adds unnecessary delay in registering the blog.

Blogger - After Step 3
Blogger - After Step 3
You're almost there...

Blogger - Confirmation of new blog
Blogger - Confirmation of new blog
Congratulations! You now have a blog. But you if you try to visit your blog URL, you'll get a 404 Page Not Found message. Don't worry -- you see your blog once you publish at least one post. Which is why blogger will bring you directly to...

Blogger - Create/ Publish Post
Blogger - Create/ Publish Post
This is where you create a new post. It's almost like composing and sending an email. More explanatory notes are at the Flickr.com image - click here)

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4 comments:

  1. Anonymous6:12 am

    Nice, Ivan! When you show people blogging, do you actually suggest they come to the session with a few ideas for blog names? I've been in a couple of sessions where people got a bit flustered when the names they wanted were unavailable. Mind you I'm not sure if this would help, 1) if attendees weren't convinced they wanted to blog before the session, and 2) if they don't understand what you mean prior to the session.

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  2. Hi CW, so far no. All my sessions so far comprise of participants with diverse objectives, i.e. not all want to create a blog. At most, I ask them to come prepared with a photo (for uploading) and some text for posting. I've also found that it's better to create some demo accounts in advance, so that some participants can dive right in and start posting entries to get a feel of what it's like. If they get the hang of it, they can create the blogs with the desired name after the session. Besides, even if they come prepared with blog names, there's no guarantee the names are available. So far this seems to work for me. It's not perfect though, and other ideas would be appreciated!

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  3. Anonymous11:29 pm

    Now why weren't there courses on Blogger when Iwas with NLB? Heh. I think this rocks, and I hope more folks sign up for your class in future.

    By the way, I'm curious about that question you mentioned - "How do I know what my child is blogging?" How did you answer that?

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  4. I don't run these classes regularly. It's on an adhoc basis right now. I guess blogs have become "legitimised" now, so people are more open to it :)

    "How do I know what my child is blogging?" -- come to think of it, it wasn't quite phrased as that. The question was more of "how do I know if my child has a blog" or "how do I find out my child's blog". Some participants said "Search in Technorati". I said "Go ask your child" or something like that. We had a brief discussion about whether the parent should let the child know the parent reads the blog, or just read and pretend they don't know etc. Quite an interesting discussion, with different perspectives from the participants.

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