August 18, 2004

Teaching a Blogging Workshop

We did a one-hour blogging workshop last week as a breakout session for our library's Personnel Development Day. I hadn't expected much interest, but the workshop filled up. We had 20 people, including paraprofessionals, new librarians and our university librarian. It was also a good mix of departments: special collections, cataloging, acquisitions, access & media services, even a few people from our department who aren't involved in the blogs.

Here are some suggestions if you're doing a workshop for your organization:

  1. Keep it simple and cover the basics. What are blogs? Where do you find blogs? How do you set one up? How do you keep up with reading your favorites?
  2. Offer a variety of examples, but ask your attendees about the blogs they read as well.
  3. Ask your audience about their blogging experience. Of the 20 people, I think we had only 1 or 2 that had blogged before the workshop.
  4. Make it hands-on, if at all possible. We got everyone set up on Blogger so they could leave the workshop with their own blog. We also showed them the template and talked briefly about customizing their blogs (using this one as an example). Here's the one I set up. We also mentioned Typepad as a good alternative to Blogger and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
  5. If you have an hour, keep any discussion of RSS to a minimum. We demonstrated Bloglines as the tool they could use to keep up with blogs and news sites, but really didn't have time to go beyond that.
  6. And remind your attendees that when they are blogging (whether they continue their "test" blog or delete and start again), that they should consider the purpose of the blog and the intended audience because those things will impact everything from what blogging option they select to layout, tone and marketing.

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