Today, a teacher-librarian colleague asked for what she called “an idiot’s guide” to getting started with a school library blog.

It got me thinking back to where it all began for me. In 1996, just after getting my first home Internet connection, I was eager to start my own home page immediately, and I bought the book “Creating websites for dummies” – which warned that the biggest mistake new web composers made was not exploring what’s already out there, good and bad, before creating their own site. Nothing worse than a pretty web site that took many minutes for the graphics to upload. “For dummies…” recommended a good three months of ‘Net surfing first.

Extrapolating that warning to Web 2.0, which was a whole new learning curve, I would encourage potential Web 2.0 educators to become a surfer and commenter on other people’s education blogs, wikis and library sites first – to satisfy themselves as to what works well, and what doesn’t work. Also, they can sample the list of blog links of their favourite library blogs. They’ll hopefully start to realise the strengths and weaknesses of various Web 2.0 software, the importance of currency/relevance of information, how well each web composer responds to their commenters, and so on. With Web 2.0, you can really only learn by doing. Try some links off this site’s blog roll, for example.

Then, I suggested, make notes of what your dream school library blog might include. What pages can be static, and what parts could be regularly updated via a blog or wiki? Are you planning to permit indivisual responses (beware of cyber bullying, and who will “approve” messages), or will group-negotiated student responses be done in cooperative cohorts with teacher guidance?

My colleague had asked for an “Idiot’s Guide” – I really like the commercial “For Dummies…” format myself, so if you feel you need such help after a few months of browsing/commenting, I’m sure there’s a great “Wikis and blogs for dummies” title out there. Also, most Web 2.0 sites have excellent user services attached to their pages. Edublogs has a bbs where questions, no matter how dumb, can be answerered by other users and Edublogs volunteers.

As for wikis, “pbwiki” is now known as “PBworks”, and all old “pbwiki” URLs are automatically reverting to the new confiiguration for the moment. I have found “pbwiki” to be very easy to use, although the new upgrades have taken some getting used to.

My school library wiki, which has been referenced in several “Scan” articles, is now at:
http://penrithpslibrary.pbworks.com

Our school’s two Kinder wiki projects are fully annotated – with attached pages of pre- and post-evaluations, student comments, teacher decision-making, etc. – so those pages might be useful for teachers wondering just how to take the plunge into Web 2.0.

I recently received an email from the “PBworks” team congratulating me on the popularity of our school library site. I don’t have any analytics program attached to it, so it was a nice surprise to realise how heavily it is being used across the world. I also recently noticed that our wiki URL popped up during a search for resources on “TaLe”. Here I was, looking for good online sources of activities using nursery rhymes, and my own work from the previous year was being suggested to me! ;)

I also suggested trying the next rap (using blog format) from NSW DET. This strategy gives a fledging Web 2.0 educator a change to see a blog working that is fully integrated into a school or class program, addresses outcomes, and encourages cooperative learning and collaborative teaching. There’s always a “Teacher” section, where teachers and teacher-librarians can chat about their learning curve, and receive prompt advice re problems.

The “Identity: sharing our stories” rap starts very soon, but there are also links to many completed raps and book raps on that menu page.