Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Thing 2: Write your first blog post

Hopefully by now you've set up a blog - if not, don't panic, there's plenty of time, just follow the instructions in the previous post.

Before going any further you need to register your blog using this Google form. This officially signs you up for 23 Things (making you eligible for the £100 prize) and also collects the links to all the blogs in one place - in Thing 3 we'll share the link to the form so everyone can read each others' blogs as we go along. A bit part of why 23 Things works so well is everyone sharing their experiences, helping each other out when they get stuck, coming up with different ideas of how to use a tool, and so on. Registering your blog will also mean we can find and read your posts - we're going to try and read every single one in the 23 Things Team - and help out if you ask questions or have problems...

Activity: writing a blog post

So now we come to writing the first blog post. This activity should take 10 minutes or so, depending on what you actually write. Don't worry too much about the content - your first blog doesn't have to be a work of genius, it's just to get used to using the Software...

First of all, open again, and click on the title of your new blog to go into its dashboard. (Your blogger account is your York account, so make sure you're signed in with your IT username and password.) In the top left hand corner of the dashboard, there's a friendly orange New Post button - click this to get started.

Your screen should now look like this (minus my arrows and explanations):

Along the top is a space for the title of your post. Blog post titles are important later down the line, in terms of getting people to actually read your posts, but for now feel free to just call it something like '23 Things York - first post'.

Just below the title field are all the tools for actually writing the post - it's like a very basic version of Word, with options to make your text bold or italic, to change the colour or size of your font, to add in links or pictures, and so on. Take a second to click on each thing and see what it does. Generally speaking, you can leave the font size and type and colour alone - you won't often need a lot of the buttons along the top.

Down the right-hand side is the Post settings menu. At this stage you don't need to worry about Schedule, or Options, or Permalink. If you want to you can put York into the 'Location' field. But the most important one is Labels. Labels are a way to tag your post (sort of like basic metadata) - it enables you to group posts together later, and it helps people search for and find what they're looking for. For example, a post about Twitter might have the labels 'Twitter, social media, web 2.0' and anyone viewing the blog post could click on any of those labels and be taken to all the other posts on the blog on that subject. (You can see this in action by clicking on any of the labels for this blog post, which appear at the bottom. If you're reading this via email, click on the title of the post at the top to got and read this on the actual blog.)

We're going to put some labels in now - seperating with commas, write (or copy and paste from here) 23 Things York, Blogger, blogs and blogging, Information Directorate, Thing 2.

Finally, write your post! It can just be a quick hello, explaining that this is a blog made for the 23 Things programme at York. Or it could be about what you're hoping to get out of the programme, or the tools you are particularly interested in. Or really whatever you want.

If you want to stop at any time, press Save in the top right hand corner of the screen - you can then come back to it later. You can press Preview (next to Save) to see what your post will look like. And finally, when you're happy, press Publish and it will go live online. In the top-left hand corner of the screen, click View blog to see what it looks like. You can always edit it if you spot any errors.

That's it! Agan, if you get stuck, try asking a fellow 23 Thing-er for help. For those who want to experiment a little more, there's some (entirely optional) additional activities below.

Extra Assignment

An extra 5 minutes or so of quick things to try if you're keen:
  • Go into your Dashboard again, and click Posts from the menu down the left-hand side. You should see the blog post you've published - hover over it and an 'Edit' button will appear just below.
  • Click Edit and you'll be taken back into your blog post as the author - from here you can edit the post and then press Update in the top-right hand corner when you've made any changes you want. We're going to make a couple.
  • First of all, put a subheading into your post. Near or at the end, type Experimenting with images and then highlight the text you've just typed with your mouse. The from the menu along the top, click on the drop-down menu where it says Normal and choose Subheading instead. This will turn the words Experimenting with images into a subheading (as you've probably guessed)...
  • Then click the little picture icon, between Link and the clapperboard icon - this will allow you to insert an image into the blogpost. You can then click Browse and find a picture you already have on your PC. (Don't worry too much about the Insert from URL option now as we'll cover it later in the Multimedia section of the programme.) Once you've uploaded the pic, click Add Selected to add it to your post. Blogger tends to make pictures quite small by default - click on the picture and you'll see sizing options appear just below it on the left. Try 'Original Size' and then click Preview in the top right hand corner to see how it looks - if it's too wide you may need to resize it. 
  • Finally we're going to insert a link. At the very bottom of your blog post, write This blog is part of the 23 Things programme at York and then highlight the text with your mouse - then click Link from the menu at the top. In the Web Address field, type Then click OK.
  • You've now mastered Headings, linking and inserting images!

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