Blogs and Blogging part two

Designing and creating blog content

Every blog has a ‘tone’ , and the content and design of the blog should reflect that tone. As these pages have been written for professionals who are using their blog for reflection and professional networking and learning, the advice that follows will direct readers towards creating a blog that is professional in tone.

It is good to keep in mind general web design principles as well as principles related specifically to blogging. At all times when making design and content decisions, keep in mind that the site is part of your professional digital identity. It is important that you convey your personality and personal style, because this is what makes a site authentic, but find the balance between ‘you’ and  ‘professional you’.

This mindmap, created by Dr Mandy Lupton, gives a great summary of the elements of web and blog design that you should keep in mind.

Created by Dr Mandy Lupton. Used with permission.

This Pinterest board contains links to a range of sites that explain the key web design principles referred to in the mindmap above.

|

General Design Tips

One of the first things you need to consider is colour scheme. Consult the colour theory websites on the above pinterest board for more detailed information, but in summary:

*Choose two or three colours (no more than this) to underpin your blog

*Consider your readers when making colour choices (readers may be colour blind, may have visual impairment, may just not like reading a lot of  yellow text on black background!)

*Consider using a colour scheme generator

Images

When publishing a blog on the open web, no ‘education exceptions’ or ‘fair use’ applies. Even though you may be a student, and your work may be created as part of your learning, your blog is public and open to the world. Therefore you must only use images that are:
* created by you, or

* licensed through creative commons or

* in the public domain,

* ‘stock’ images you have purchased or are freely provided by your blogging tool

* ones you have written permission from the copyright holder to use.

You must also credit each image regardless of their licence (see information on citing and referencing below).

DO NOT search Google Images and use whatever you find. Freely available to view online does not mean freely available to republish.

Three excellent sites for images and icons are: Pixabay (public domain photos and image files), Unsplash (public domain photos) and The Noun Project (creative commons licensed icons).

You are always free to embed anything into your blog if the content item provides an embed code (e.g. YouTube videos). Embedding is just a fancy form of hyperlink, as the content remains on the original host page. Therefore embedding does not infringe on copyright.

Further information is available in this printable PDF, and I have included infographics at the bottom of this page – both infographics link to printable (PDF) versions.

Citing and referencing images

What referencing conventions should I use?

In general, when using a web-based format and you are referencing material available on the open web you should hyperlink  within the text and caption each image with citation details. If you are citing  material which is not available on the open web (for example if you are citing an article only available through a library journal database) you should use an in-text citation and provide a reference list at the end of the post where the reference has been made. For QUT students, Faculty of Education uses APA referencing. Here is the CiteWrite guide which provides indepth referencing information.

Using images and video

When using images and video on your blog, you need to make sure that you have the necessary permissions and that you provide attribution. If you have created your own image or video, you must state that it has been created by you. You can say something like ‘image/video created by author’.  If an image doesn’t have an attribution it may be assumed that it has been republished inappropriately. For assessments, all content must be referenced and cited!

If you are using an image as a banner,  attribute the image on the Home page or About page of your blog as it is not possible to caption a banner image. Another way to ensure all images are cited appropriately is to use all Public Domain images and then make a blanket statement on the Home or About page, stating that ‘All images are from the Public Domain unless otherwise stated’. Then, if you happen to use a creative commons image or one you have received permission to use, you need only caption these images.

Referencing images: reference in the image caption (you don’t need to include reference in the reference list)

Referencing video: reference in the text immediately before you embed the video e.g. ‘In this video Sir Ken Robinson discusses creativity’ (you don’t need to include a reference to the video in a reference list)

Randall Munroe (en:User:Xkcd),Webcomic xkcd – Wikipedian protester, Cropped to crowd shot by K.Oddone, CC BY 2.5

Writing your blog posts

What writing style should you use?

The writing style of a blog is determined by its purpose and audience. When writing for university, you should write in a professional, reflective and scholarly style. What does this mean?

Professional: Your colleagues and other scholars and professionals are your reading audience. Imagine giving a professional development session at a staff meeting, or a conference presentation. That is the sort of tone and style you should adopt. You don’t need to use a highly formal academic style. A professional tone is friendly but not overly familiar. This blog is written in a professional style. I imagine that I am speaking with others who are interested in what I am interested in, but I remember that I am not speaking with family or close friends, so I write clearly, and don’t use any slang or ‘in-jokes’, and I don’t make assumptions about my readers.

Reflective: Your feelings and opinions about teaching and learning are encouraged. You are an experienced educator, and you should use your experience to create a professional conversation. People will find your blog more engaging (and are therefore more likely to read and respond) if you share professional anecdotes, opinions and what you have learnt.

Scholarly: Reference and cite all sources (hyperlink all open access sources). Write strong, clear and succinct topic sentences. Support the topic sentence with 2-4 sentences that provide evidence for the topic sentence. Each paragraph should have only one main idea. Start a new paragraph when you introduce a new idea.

Headings and Subheadings: Consider using headings and subheadings in your blog posts to direct the reader and to break up the text. It is easier to read text that is broken into smaller sections when reading on screen.

Also remember that professional information can be communicated in many forms thanks to the affordances of the blog format. Use videos, images, diagrams, tables, infographics, mindmaps or any other appropriate content to break up text and to effectively explain complex ideas.

Proofreading: Make sure you read all of your writing aloud. The world is reading your work (not just your university lecturer) and while no one is perfect, typos and poorly constructed text is not professional and reflects poorly.

Further Copyright information

Here is a downloadable pdf guide to essential copyright information: Copyright-for-Students.pdf Click for more options

Copyright infographic
Infographic created by Kay Oddone
Creative Commons infographic
Infographic created by Kay Oddone