So what can a blog be for a teacher? A few purposes that come to mind are:
- A professional journal you write, aimed at colleagues
- A service blog for your community (like Ask Auntie Web)
- A teacher's course log you write for your students, posting materials and homework
- A collaborative work space for your students to post their own projects
- Individual students blogging and communicating using their own favored communication channels, and linking you into their network (Facebook, StudiVZ, twitter...)
- Part of a blended learning course, i.e. your own content linked to exercises and media you set up, along with workspaces for your students
- The news section of your website, with changing content that keeps clients and students coming back.
The Ask Auntie Web blog was set up for free by going to www.blogger.com. This is a service provided by Google, and it has proved to be very stable. Some of the best writers in EFL use this provider - for example David Crystal, for his DCBlog: http://david-crystal.blogspot.com. We could also have gone to www.wordpress.com for an equally good free provider. This is the provider Lindsey Clandfield uses on Six Things: http://sixthings.net.
A wide variety of templates let you personalize the look of your blog's layout, colors and fonts.
Here is a short tutorial on how to create a blog with Blogger:
The helplink given in the tutorial is http://help.blogger.com. Also feel free to Ask Auntie Web. If you have a question, there are probably dozens of others asking themselves the same thing. Be sure to make a note of the address of your blog and Google account e-mail address and password.
More advanced blogs
You can actually build a website with blog software, including static pages for contact forms and your imprint and so on (i.e. point 7. above). You can do this with WordPress (www.wordpress.org - not www.wordpress.com!) Pete Sharma uses this solution for his Technology for Business English (te4be) blog: http://www.te4be.com/pages/newblog. WordPress.org provides free opensource software, which means that noone is earning money on the programs, which are maintained by a professional community.
Blogspot and WordPress.com automatically provide you with everything a website needs, namely a host server (a computer that can be accessed by anyone on the internet) and a domain (a website address). If you set up with WordPress.org, however, you need to register those things yourself. That involves costs (ca. 10 euros for the domain and a monthly fee of ca. 10 euros for the host) but it gets you a professional website. I've found a very nice video tutorial on how to set one up at www.becomeablogger.com. One of the advantages of using WordPress for your website is that you can make changes to the static pages at any time all by yourself. In short, you don't need to have someone "hardcode", or program once and for all, a website for you anymore. If you ask a professional to set up a website for you, I can only recommend WordPress.
If you decide to start with a basic blog and later want to move on to the more advanced solution, it's no problem to import your old blog posts from Blogspot or WordPress.com into a WordPress.org blog.