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If you want to get ahead, get a blog

Blogging. The term may sound like something in a 1950s horror B-movie, but self-confessed fan Rob Simpson is convinced that it will become part of education's everyday vocabulary in the not-too-distant future.

"I like the term, principally because of its quirky connotations," he said.

"Another term that has recently come into being is podcasting, the audio version of blogging, and I like that as well."

Mr Simpson is a consultant to Dysg, the Welsh learning and skills development agency for post-16 education and training, and this month has been promoting the educational benefits of blogs at a series of network meetings for ICT teachers, lecturers and managers.

Blogs - at their simplest - are diaries posted on the internet and accessible to all.

Mr Simpson says blogging has been a familiar term with American web users for the past few years. "A person will set up a blog sign and other members of the group can then comment on each other's work," he said.

"For example, students in an art class at Gorseinon college near Swansea were all given a topic to study and they all posted their research on a blog.

"It's there in a public forum, allowing all the students to comment on each other's work. It caused such an effect that they ended up creating their own blog which in turn has spawned all these other blogs."

He added: "One of the great things about blogs is that anything posted on them is there straightaway, and anyone subscribing to that blog knows who has produced that post.

"I like to think of a blog being used by a group of people almost like a Lego block which can be put together how you like."

Teachers, can feel secure in the knowledge that their students are kept bang up to date, and they can also keep tabs on their interaction and participation in on-going discussions in what is a public forum.

"A blog should be like a display board in the classroom," said Mr Simpson.

Not everyone loves blogs. Some observers fear they could be open to such misuse as bullying, but Mr Simpson begs to differ.

"Don't forget that anyone posting on a blog will leave their names alongside whatever they put there," he said. "While it would not be impossible, it would certainly be hard for someone to get away with such misuse.

"Education is the natural next niche for blogging. It took off in the geek community about five years ago but now it has so much more functional use."

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