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What is a weblog or blog?

According to Donna Wentworth, Web Publications Editor at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, a weblog or blog is:

“… a website updated frequently with links, commentary and anything else you like. New items go on top and older items flow down the page. Blogs can be political journals, news digests, and/or personal diaries; they can focus on one narrow subject or range across a universe of topics. The weblog form is unique to the Web, highly addictive, and may be changing how we communicate with one another.” (Weblogs at Harvard Law School)

Dave Winer of gives blogs a four part definition. A blog is a personal tool whereby the reader can gain an understanding of the weblog author’s personality, style, and opinions. A blog is also on the web where it is cheaper to publish, and can be updated frequently. A blog is published through templates through which the process is automated and relatively easy to perform. Finally a blog is usually a part of a community. Mr Winer writes “no weblog stands alone, they are relative to each other and to the world.”

Why is UW-Whitewater hosting blogs?

UW-Whitewater recognizes the value of providing an environment that promotes use of current technology for communication, teaching and learning. Blogs are an excellent tool whereby students, faculty and staff at the University can let their opinions be heard. Blogs offer a way to rapidly discuss opinions, issues, and ideas, and allow people from across the country, and the campus, to connect with each other through these ideas. Blogs can provide opportunities for student organizations, faculty, and staff of the University to build communities of interest. Blogs are an excellent collaborative work environment tool through which people can write about their research interests, and encourage others in their field to comment on these writings or even create their own blog to share their own thoughts.In addition, blogs are great tool to promote discussion within classes on campus. Faculty and instructors will easily be able to create blogs for specific classes and give the students in those classes access to post articles and opinions.

Who can use the service?

Currently, we are offering blogging services to groups – such as student organization, administrative groups or committees, for class related activities, or for individual faculty/staff members and students.

How much does it cost?

This service is free to UW-W faculty, staff, student organizations, for class use and for students on campus. The iCIT WebTeam maintains the service. This project received initial support from the Chancellor’s Excellence Fund, 2005 and is now considered an enterprise service maintained and operated by iCIT.

Why should I use the blog service offered by UW-W? Why not Blogger, TypePad, LiveJournal, etc?

You are free to use whatever blogging system you want, however consider what our service offers:

  • No advertisements.
  • The ability to have team blogs, class blogs, club blogs, etc. Blog owners can request specific people with a campus Net-ID to post to their blog.
  • Allows students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to create multiple blogs, really as many blogs as needed.
  • Allow private blogs that are password protected – this unique feature, seemingly against the philosophy of blogging, provides an environment for a group to experiment with blogging as a class tool class or for private discussion as needed.
  • Allows blog authors to upload graphics and other multimedia (doc, ppt, pdf, etc.) to their blogs.
  • Creates the necessary blog directories (the main directory and the archives directory) on the fly without any administrator intervention.
  • Allows Student Organizations or other groups easy access to RSS feeds that can be used to broadcast information on web sites, ..

How do I get help/support with the Blogs@UWW system?

If you have any questions or comments about the service please email The iCIT Web Team is more than happy to give a presentation to any group that wants to learn more about Blogs@UWW and how to use the service. Please email for more information.

How much control do I have over my blog(s)? Can I edit entries I make?

You are able to add/remove/edit/privatize/and sticky your blog posts. You can also add/remove/edit media and links on your blog. You can add/edit/remove pages from your blog, as well as change its appearance. You can even change your blogs theme, and add/remove plugins that your blog uses. If you would like to further customize your blog’s look and feel, contact the iCIT WebTeam.

How long can I have access to my blog?

Your blog will be available as long as the blog owner has an active campus Net-ID. The iCIT will re-assess access after the user leaves the university on a case-by-case basis.

How can I tell if anyone is reading my blog?

You can enable the Google Analytics plugin for your blog, and it will tell you how many people have been viewing your blog. You can also see what articles and pages people have viewed as well.

I’ve been writing in my blog for a while and no one is reading it. Why?

There are many things you can do to increase the readership of your blog. Word of mouth is not a bad idea. If you are posting your professional interests or research on your blog, advertise the Blog URL to professional organizations. Another way to get people to read your blog is to link to other blogs you are interested in. Then tell those blog owners that you have linked to them and ask for a reciprocal link. They don’t have to if they don’t want to, but sometimes they will link back to you. You could also submit your blog to search engines (like Google) for indexing although they will eventually find it on their own. You should definitely add your blog to the blog directories Technorati and Blogarama. Blogging takes diligence. Don’t expect hundreds of visitors and comments just because you started a blog. It takes time to build an audience. Start a blog for yourself, to practice writing or to track an important topic you are interested in. Eventually, your readership will increase.

I would like to have a private blog, where access is blocked by a username and password. Is this possible?

Yes, it is possible to have restricted access if the owner desires that type of environment. Check the ‘yes’ option under the ‘Privacy‘ heading when you request your Blog. Only users that the owner designates have access to the Blog to read or post entries. This is set up to meet the needs of a Class blog or departmental blogs that should not have public access. All other blogs are public, and can be read by the public at large. Keep in mind, though, that just because you write something does not mean people will read it.

What are some specific ways I can use Blogs@UWW?

The following are some suggestions borrowed from the UTHink Blogging service at the University of Minnesota, with permission. If you have experience with other creative uses of blogging in the academic environment, please let us know and we will share with others.

People around the world are using blogs in a myriad of ways, but an academic setting provides some unique possibilities for blogs:

Faculty and Instructors

  • Create blogs for specific classes, and add the students of those classes to the blogs as authors, to encourage discussion and debate. Many classes across the country are already doing this, including classes at the U of M such as this sociology class and this class at Arizona State University.
  • Encourage students to create their own blogs, and create assignments that give students the option to use their blogs as the mechanism for completing those assignments. Seton Hill University is already using blogs in this way.
  • Use Blogs@UWW to rapidly publish new ideas and areas of research to a much wider audience than ever before, and receive comments on your entries
  • Use Blogs@UWW to track areas of research interest, web sites about a particular topic, or happenings in a particular field. With the categorization functionality you can quickly and easily manage entries on all your research or professional interests. In addition, each blog comes with its own search engine so you can quickly find past entries.
  • Use Blogs@UWW to keep in touch with current and former students, or with colleagues around the world. The Blogs@UWW notification functionality you can have the blog server automatically email specific people every time you update your blog.
  • Use Blogs@UWW to create a newsletter, or a faculty group blog to keep everyone up to date on departmental matters.

For more information on how faculty around the world are using blogs check out this Chronicle of Higher Education article: Scholars Who Blog.

Students – Associated with a Class

  • Create a blog to share your opinion on classes, campus events, local or world news, or really anything! Let your opinion be heard.
  • Create blogs for your classes, or specific papers or speeches, and easily organize your thoughts using the categorization functionality. Also, find old entries quickly using the built in search capabilities.
  • Use a blog to keep your friends and family up to date about what you are up to. Students at Grinnell College have been using this kind of a service for years.
  • Use a blog to keep track of links to important web sites used in your classes, or keep track of library index and database citations for your papers and speeches.
  • Use blogs as a research tool. The more people we have logging in and posting opinions, the richer the search results will become.

Student Organizations

  • Create a blog for any student organization, club, or group you might belong to and easily keep other students up to date on your group’s activities, events, or views on a particular topic.
  • Use the theme functionality to customize and design your blog to look any way you want.

Are there any rules I should be aware of?

Blogs@UWW is governed by the same rules, guidelines, and policies that govern the student, faculty, and staff web space provided by iCIT. For more information please see Service Guidelines and Description.

iCIT would like to thank UThink at University of Minnesota, and University of Mary Washington for their generosity in allowing us to adopt their documentation for Blogs@UWW.

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