Tech Tips

Do You Know Blog Lingo?


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Blogging Mishaps by Shelly Terrell

English language teachers understand the importance of learning the language you use to communicate. Proficiency in a language allows us to communicate and connect with others. In the same way, proficiency in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript help us to effectively communicate and connect with our readers. If you are not a web head that is okay, because even knowing basic HTML can improve the way you communicate with your readers. Moreover, there are several online resources available to help you figure out what you want to say in your blog and how you want to say it!

HTML

HTML is the most basic language that a blogger should know. Maybe you are like me and you learned the language back in 1996 and forgot most of the codes since then. The following recommended sites will help you get your HTML up to speed!

  • Edublogger webinar host, Phil Hart, recommends the W3Schools Online Web Tutorials for beginners to learn about most of the blog languages- HTML, XHTML, CSS, JavaScript, and more. The link to the HTML tutorial provides information on tags, basics codes, and examples.
  • If you are a beginner, then you may also want to try this Interactive Tutorial for Beginners, which has you create code with the HTML you learn about in 17 minichapters.  You can always skip the parts you know.
  • Your blog’s host site will create much of the HTML for you. However, you have to know some more codes to fix some of the glitches. For this reason, I keep the HTML Playground open in a new tab as I work on my blog or make a comment. This easy to use program allows you to generate many codes for changing fonts, creating tables, making lists, embedding images, and so forth. You will have to know tag information. The wonderful part about this website is that you can immediately see what your code should look like in your post then copy and paste the code into your blog.

HTML Playground Web Site

For more information on issues with your Edublog you may want to visit this previous post. If you want to receive continual tips on how to improve your blog you may want to subscribe to Sue Water’s blog.

I would like to thank a very influential blogger, Karenne Sylvester, for inspiring this post through her blog. One of her secrets to having such a great site is finding tips on Blogger Tips and Tricks! She also is the one who showed me how to get this cool LinkedIn widget for my blog.

Your boot camp challenge for this week:

Have a friend provide you with constructive criticism of your blog. Aim to fix a few of these problems by the next blog post.

Do you want to share your CSS or JavaScript tips? Please contact me to host your post on this blog or for an interview!

18 Comments

  • July 15, 2009 - 10:24 | Permalink

    Interesting and I am probably going to be controversial by arguing that bloggers don’t need to know HTML but having a basic understanding is beneficial.

    If I broke apart what is helpful it is:
    1. Writing the HTML for links, lists, italics, bold and linking to images is beneficial.
    2. Knowing how to read the HTML embed code from web sites in terms of being able to work out how to change the width and height of objects.

    But we definitely don’t recommend bloggers embed tables in posts or pages. It is not a good idea. It is better to create an image of a table and embed the image.

    • July 15, 2009 - 10:50 | Permalink

      Sue Waters,
      Meaningful controversy is always welcomed! It keeps the conversation alive!

      Thanks for the tips! I think bloggers should know the basics you mentioned in order to fix errors. I have also found that I need to know various codes for embedding widgets. Right now I’m fiddling with some the JavaScript codes in my blog and still learning.

  • David Truss
    July 15, 2009 - 10:31 | Permalink

    When I started blogging it was on a small, open-sourced platform called elgg, which became eduspaces. There were no sidebar widgets, I needed to open up the HTML for my sidebar. Figuring out how to put anything beyond a simpe image in a post felt like htm-hell!
    3 years later I still feel like a rookie, but I’m actually thankful for having to go through what I did, learning how to use code to change font colours and formatting on my first blog. The challenge helped me to tinker with embed codes and get what I want… Rather than just what’s offered.
    I’m going to play with the sites you suggested, I wish I had access to tools like these when I started, Thanks!

    • July 15, 2009 - 10:54 | Permalink

      David Truss,
      Glad you found the information useful. I was having a discussion on Twitter the other day how my first website was hosted by Geocities. I had a printed HTML code book, which I referenced religiously. However, the site still looked pretty basic compared to this blog. It is wonderful that so many blog hosting services really do make blogging easier.

  • July 15, 2009 - 11:04 | Permalink

    Hi Shelly!

    Both of my blogs are hosted by edublogs which is very easy-to-use and flexible. However I started to feel the need to learn some basic HTML because I realise that it will make my life easier.
    For instance, I couldn’t stop the auto-play feature of embedded edublogs.tv videos for a long time. Although I uncheck the ‘auto-play’ box from the menu, it keeps auto-playing which is horrible for the visitors. Finally I decided to play with the codes and deleted a part that was saying it should ‘auto-play':-) The victory was mine! I wouldn’t have lost that time, if I had known some basic codes.

    Anyway, I’m hoping to find time to study:-)

    Thank you!
    Burcu

    • July 15, 2009 - 11:13 | Permalink

      burcuakyol,
      In the same way I am struggling with the retweet Tweetmeme button JavaScript. You may have noticed I changed to the Tweetthis button instead. It is easier to embed and use but I miss retweet which gave you a tiny url and nice image. So now I’m on to learning basic JavaScript!

  • July 15, 2009 - 11:20 | Permalink

    Thanks for the great ideas, as usual. As I’m still figuring out the basics, I look forward to trying out the tutorials!

    • July 15, 2009 - 12:59 | Permalink

      Barbara,

      I hope you find them successful! For quick references I think the W3Schools Online Web Tutorials and HTML playground are incredibly wonderful sites.

  • July 15, 2009 - 12:04 | Permalink

    I’m going to come down firmly on both sides of the fence in this debate. All knowledge is useful, on the one hand, and on the other, don’t learn it until you need it.

    Figuring out some html etc has really helped me out with some really irritating stuff from time to time, but I’ve never been able to sit down and learn this stuff systematically. I learn stuff when I need it and when i need it I can learn it quite quickly (and forget it almost as quickly)

    Best

    Nik Peachey

    • July 15, 2009 - 13:12 | Permalink

      Nik,

      That’s great advice and a great approach. I used HTML extensively in a college course way back when people had to know HTML for websites. Therefore, I learned HTML systematically, but was able to put the knowledge to use when creating a website. However, as you pointed out, I mostly remember what I used and forgot what I didn’t use.

  • July 15, 2009 - 13:56 | Permalink

    So, of course… as the one who wanted this posting for the blog carnival, am going to have to disagree firmly with a lot of the above –

    Learning some basic html has been invaluable to me and it’s without question one of the biggest faux pas I see on the other blogs that I visit in the blogospherre –

    Not understanding any of the code, leaves bloggers with a feeling of desperation when they’re not sure how to change the size of a video or picture (can’t tell you how often I see pictures that are bigger than the main blog posting space) or leaving relevant links in comments that aren’t actually linked – I do know EduBloggers software is quite different – but from a blogspot perspective there are so many little glitches that are never fixed and leaves some blogs looking quite untidy.

    Also, if a blogger wants to “fix-up” their page – control the size of the sidebars or turn the blog into a 3 column blog, it’s absolutely invaluable.

    I agree with Sue regarding tables – to a degree – sometimes a series of information simply looks better when it’s presented clearly in table format -and pictures can look quite elegant done this way!

    ;-) my 2 cents

    Karenne

    • July 15, 2009 - 16:05 | Permalink

      Karenne,

      If I had not learned HTML a long time ago, I would be lost as far as design is concerned. In the same way, I have actually looked at blogs and thought I wish the blogger had a tweet this button or RSS reader. I think the more options we leave for readers to promote our words the more we will be able to connect to larger audiences and start great conversations like the current one!

  • July 15, 2009 - 14:11 | Permalink

    As someoen who’s been blogging for a while, I remember when the only way you could add links or change your template was if you knew some html – then it was essential for bloggers to know this language.

    And that’s what put a lot of people off blogging – now that it’s not necessary, blogging is more accessible to the average teacher, and I think most teacher-bloggers aren’t going to be interested in learning html – after all, that’s not what blogging is about, is it? The whole point of a blog (to me) is that it allows people without any technical knowledge to quickly and easily publish on the Internet.

    It’s funny though, that what was originally designed as a system to highlight the words rather than design / appearance has become transformed into a far more design-focused website. Such is life I suppose.

    Despite this, I for one am happy that I know some html – it means I can easily change code if I need to. I don’t think I’d recommend learning it now though, unless the blogger was a techie…

    • July 15, 2009 - 16:02 | Permalink

      Graham,

      Great insights! I think you make a very valid point of this turning teachers away from blogging. I had not really looked at it from this perspective and this must be considered. However, I think there is a point when an experienced blogger realizes that some knowledge of HTML is useful for design purposes. As you observed, I have seen more blogs aimed at design and making their blogs reader friendly for their readers. At this stage, I think one almost has to know some HTML.

  • July 16, 2009 - 05:06 | Permalink

    Shelly,

    Your comment “I have actually looked at blogs and thought I wish the blogger had a tweet this button or RSS reader” is really very helpful. I tend to think less is more, just like I like very spare textbooks rather than dizzy, colorful ones. I’m still feeling my way forward regarding what our community really needs in the way of tools on blogs to promote a conversation. It does take quite some time for a low techie to fix functional things in HTML, and then you find it looks lbusy… So my wish post for your Teacher Bootcamp would be a list of tools that a good blogger should really have on her/his site… and of course I’d be very interested in the ensuing conversation…

    … if I may be so bold to make a request. :)

    Anne

    • July 16, 2009 - 05:24 | Permalink

      Anne,
      If I make challenges for readers, you definitely can make requests :-) I think this is a great idea and will have to go to my PLN for their opinions.
      You are always full of great suggestions!

  • July 16, 2009 - 06:11 | Permalink

    I (and my baby blog) thank you Shelly and the others that commented. I can now grow up my baby blog in a very responsible manner!

    Shonah :-)

    • July 16, 2009 - 18:44 | Permalink

      MissShonah,
      You’ve already made some great changes to your blog, which was already nice! I think it is great to receive all this feedback from such experienced bloggers so I can improve my beginner blog as well.

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