UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Blogs – suitable for reports?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 17 Nov 2006

A recent Technorati search for JISC (which, incidentally, included a sponsored link suggesting that I search for JISC on eBay!) led me to a JISC-funded report on “the use of learning technologies in delivering art and design courses to HE students within an FE environment“.

The study was available using Blogging software, rather, than as one might normally expect, in PDF and possible static HTML. This approach was clearly described as an experiment:

The study is delivered as an interactive website based around a wordpress blog, the blog allows and encourages feedback and comments – at the end of each section feel free to leave any comments you may have, however there is a system of moderation of all comments that means they may not show up immediately.

Seeing this has made me reflect on the possible benefits (and possible weaknesses) of using Blogging software in this way – and also on other ways in which Blogs can be used.

Obvious benefits include:

  • The WordPress software provides comments as a standard.
  • The software provides ‘permalinks’ for the individual sections.
  • RSS feeds are provided as standard.

Possible limitations include:

  • Difficulties in obtaining a simple printout of the entire report
  • Printouts may not be designed for reading (i.e. Blog navigational features may be included).
  • The software may not support HTML and CSS standards (although this does not seem to be a significant problem in this case).
  • The URI structure may be imposed by the software and it may not be possible to manage preferred best practices.
  • The URI structure may impose a flat structure, which makes it difficult to exploit traditional hierarchical structures (e.g. select a directory for use by an off-line browser).
  • Users may chose not to make use of the annotation features, calling the use of this approach into question.

In this particular case, the experimental approach has been clearly identified, and I hope the project gains useful feedback.

In the meantime I’ll try and give some thoughts to ways in which Blogs may be used other than providing a personal set of opinions and thoughts, organised in a diary fashion.

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4 Responses to “Blogs – suitable for reports?”

  1. […] This posting contains the content of the “Risk Assessment For Use Of Third Party Web 2.0 Services” QA Focus briefing document. It has been posted here in order to explore the use of a Blog to receive feedback on a document, as described in my previous posting on “Blogs – Suitable For Reports“. […]

  2. Hi Brian, thanks for the interesting post – I hadn’t noticed that JISC had done this and I might get in touch with them myself.

    At the RIN we’re currently undergoing quite a major re-design, which will include a new group blog and a very experimental wiki section too. I wonder whether you have any thoughts on using a wiki to publish reports – comments and discussion comes as standard, and numerous versions of a printable report can be attached for reference.

    Keep writing :)
    James

  3. ukwebfocus said

    Hi James
    Thanks for the reply.
    We are having similar discussions about the strengths and weaknesses of Wikis. You’ve identified some of the strengths. One weakness is the flat structure you often get in Wikis – typically every page appears as a file in a flat hierarchy. This can have problems in terms of scalability (and also navigability). Will post more details later.
    All the best.
    Brian

  4. Hi Brian, thanks for that. Look forward to reading more from you about that in the future.
    James

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