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6 points for (expedition) blogging for the classroom

I have been thinking about what makes excellent and engaging blogs from the field, both from my experience setting up the site for the Offscreen Student Expedition 2007, looking at other expedition blogs for the classroom such as Cape Farewell, and planning what changes to make for the next Offscreen Student Expedition in 2008, bringing 8 young people from the Arab world to the UK in July next year.

These are some inital ideas, please let me know what you think.

1. High quality digital journalism
Today’s web-users are more discerning and sophisticated than ever before, returning only to sites that both provide high quality information and can relate their stories with appropriate, timely and professionally produced digital video, images and writing.

2. Integration of online social networking tools
Web-based social networking tools, or Web 2.0, can be integrated to increase user interactivity and provide the necessary platforms to create and cultivate an engaged online community.

There are a host of free services out there and it would be a shame if you did not make use of the likes of YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, Skype, SightSpeed, tubemogul, Brightcove, etc. (thank you to Rick for the last two)

3. Fit-for-purpose educational content
If you are developing content for the classroom, make sure that you are in touch with pupils and teachers. They are the ones who will be able to tell you if the content you are providing is relevant and if the look and feel of your site is engaging for a youth audience.

4. Cutting-edge expedition communications
Updating a website from the side of a mountain or the middle of a desert is theoretically pretty simple. The difficult part is making sure that there are as few problems as possible when you are in the middle of nowhere and making sure that you produce content on time. After a hard day’s expedition, do you really want to cut a short digital video and upload content ready for the morning assembly back in London? Planning how and when digital content is going to be created and updated is essential for a good blog.

5. User-based navigation
Navigation and user-interface need to take into account end users’ requirements and design needs, rather than just the organisation’s preferences alone.

6. Best practices in appropriate moderation processes
Original content submitted to websites or blogs by the spectrum of users must be moderated in a timely and responsible fashion. This ensures that users establish and retain trust in the organisation, and prevents inappropriate content from appearing on websites.

2 Responses to “6 points for (expedition) blogging for the classroom”

  1. Rick says:

    Jamie, I’m blushing…:)

    One aspect that I think you haven’t mentioned is ‘micro-blogging’.

    Twitter offers a more flexible version of Facebook’s status window. And most importantly enables it to be sent from your mobile. The challenge is in coming up with a message that expalins your situation in 140 characters or less :)

    Seesmic offers the same, but for video – very cool and something you’ll see alot of in the near future.

    One post I’ve come across recently that I’m sure you’ll find interesting is here:

    http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2008/01/twitter-in-the-classroom.html

    Essentially this is taking the classroom into your pocket as opposed to your laptop.

    Lots of other interesting stuff relating to mobile that I can chat to you about – particularly in terms of changing a person’s behaviour (social conscience)

    cheers

  2. admin says:

    Rick,

    Thanks for the comments on micro-blogging. It would be great to have a chat about it. On the subject of twitter, [de] has just integrated it onto the homepage of the latest site we have designed – http://2041.com – for polar explorer Robert Swan.

    Currently in Southampton, to run another Google Earth course tomorrow and was thinking on the train about bluetooth. From what I have gleaned – anecdotally in the classroom and more structured questioning – the data costs are too high for teens to download multimedia content from the web. So they download from pc to mobile and share it via bluetooth. Now here’s a thought… how about a bluetooth mediaserver in every school broadcasting educational and inspiring content?

    Hope all well,

    Jamie

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