Course Outline for Explore Blogging

Week 1

Lesson 1- Blogging 101

Welcome to the beginning of your blogging adventure! During the next six weeks, you're going to learn how to blog, produce your own audio and video podcasts to add to your blog, and market and promote your blog—all skills you can put to use on personal, business, educational, or even political projects, right away. In this first lesson, you'll get acquainted with blogging terms, the parts of a blog, and the important differences between a blog and a website. We'll also critique a couple of blogs and figure out what makes them work successfully. You'll learn the best way to search for and locate blogs on topics that interest you, and you'll discover ways to creatively use blogs to express yourself, teach, advocate for a cause, promote a product . . . the possibilities go on and on!

Lesson 2- Post Comments and Plan a Blog

It makes sense to give something a try before doing it yourself, right? So today you're going to learn how to participate in the blogosphere by commenting on a blog of your choosing. Before you click Submit Comment, though, we'll explore the process together and talk about the do's and don'ts of blog commenting etiquette. After that, it'll be time for you to start planning your own blog. We'll walk through a series of questions to help you develop a sustainable plan for your blog's content, setup, and long-term maintenance.

Week 2

Lesson 3- Set Up Your Blog's Look

In this lesson, we're going to explore your options for blogging software and hosting, and you're going to decide where and how you'll build and store your blog. You'll learn about free online blog software options, and you'll get hands-on experience working with two free blogging services, Blogger and WordPress, as you set up an account to use as a practice blog throughout the course. By the end of this lesson, you'll have a blog all ready to go, with a nice-looking design and a clean layout.

Lesson 4- Customizing Your Blog

Why settle for a cookie-cutter blog when you can create a custom blog look? In this lesson, you'll pick the perfect image for your background and spice up your blog's header on your Blogger and WordPress blogs.

Week 3

Lesson 5- Blogging Tools

Now that your blog has the perfect look, it's time to start to thinking more about your readers and what they'll need. In this lesson, you'll get to decide who can read your blog. You'll learn how to set your blog's privacy levels in case you'd like to limit who can read your blog. We'll also set up your comment fields so that you can manage who is able to comment on your blog. You have control over these features, so take advantage of them. Finally, we'll add a few gadgets that will help your blog readers navigate through your blog.

Lesson 6- Write and Format Blog Posts

Today you'll learn to write an effective first blog post, and you'll consider the writing style you'd like to use for your blog. You'll also practice working with formatting tools to make your first post look great online. You'll learn how to change the font, color, and size of your text, and you'll add lists and links to enhance the content and interactivity of your post.

Week 4

Lesson 7- Enhance and Promote Your Blog

You've mastered the process of formatting the text of your blog post, so now it's time to add some photos. After learning how to locate and incorporate appropriate images into your draft, you'll create labels to categorize the content of your post so that your blog readers interested in your topic will be able to find your post. Next, you'll learn the seven steps of how to promote your blog to boost readership. We'll finish this lesson by looking at how Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are useful blog promotion tools.

Lesson 8- Podcasts 101

Today we'll start exploring the podcast. You'll learn the podcasting terms you'll need to know to feel at home with this technology, and you'll discover the important differences between radio broadcasts and podcasts. You'll find out how to search for and locate podcasts you'd like to listen to, and you'll download and install a free podcatcher you can use to subscribe to your favorites. Finally, you'll take the first step in the PREP method of podcasting: You'll plan your own podcast, following our effective formula of developing strategies for content, setup, and long-term maintenance. By the end of this lesson, you'll be one step closer to adding this interactive tool to your blog, too.

Week 5

Lesson 9- Record Your Podcast

In this lesson, we're going to explore the minimum equipment you'll need to record your first audio podcast—as well as other equipment you may find of interest if you become a serious podcaster. You'll experiment with your telephone as a microphone, and we'll talk about how to make the most of your voice before you press the Record button. We'll discuss how to script or outline a podcast so you feel confident and comfortable in front of the microphone. And, after that, you'll continue to follow the PREP method of podcasting by recording your first podcast using Audacity, a free audio recording program.

Lesson 10- Edit and Publish Your Podcast

Today you'll work with the last two steps of the PREP method of podcasting: editing and publishing. I'll provide you with sample voice and music files for your practice edit. You'll learn how to cut out dead air and an unexpected sneeze, adjust the volume so listeners don't have to strain to hear you, and add effects so the sound fades in at the beginning and out at the end. Then, you'll use one of the sample files I've provided to add background music to the practice podcast. After mastering these skills, you'll use them to edit and enhance your own recording. When you're done, I'll walk you through the steps to get your file Web-ready, and then it will be time to publish your work.

Week 6

Lesson 11- Video Podcasting Basics

Now that you know how to prepare, record, edit, and publish an audio podcast, doing the same for a video podcast is going to be a lot easier. But, of course, there are some important differences between the two podcasting styles, so we'll begin today's discussion by exploring what makes video podcasting different. We'll discuss the equipment you can use for video podcasting—and you may be surprised to discover that even a simple cell phone with video capabilities will do! You'll learn about video editing software and video podcast hosts. We'll discuss how to develop a recording script so that everything runs smoothly when the camera's rolling. And, finally, you'll learn how to import and edit video using a sample file I've created for you to practice with. We're going to use Windows Live Movie Maker, but the principles you'll learn with this program can be adapted for use in other video editing programs, for example iMovie or Final Cut Pro for the Mac.

Lesson 12- Edit and Publish Your Video Podcast

It's time to fine-tune your video podcasting skills as well as your video podcast. In this final lesson, you'll learn how to add transitions and video effects to your video file, trim unwanted portions out, and make audio enhancements. You'll discover how to convert your video podcast into a file format suitable for the Web, upload to YouTube, and embed that file as an entry on your blog.

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