How to follow blogs

I didn’t publish anything last week because I was busy tidying up the blog. I realised that the menu with post categories wasn’t very helpful because it just linked to pages with complete articles, so the readers had to scroll through a lot of content to reach some of the older posts. To make it easier to access everything, I have created pages listing all the posts in each category: Colombia, Teaching, Professional development, Interviews, Visa. I hope that the readers who stumble upon the TEFL in Colombia blog will now find it easier to navigate this website and read posts dealing with those topics.

Anyway, going through the articles and organising all the links made me think of different ways to follow blogs. I guess the most basic one is accessing the website by typing the URL or using a bookmark in your browser. I used to do that for a long time, but the main disadvantage of that is that you often end up opening a website that hasn’t been updated since your last visit. Some blogs may go a long time without any activity before a flurry of new posts, so it’s not always easy to keep track of what is happening on the website.

Fortunately, there are a few better ways to follow blogs. If you prefer using email, look for a box that appears either in the blog’s sidebar or at the very bottom of the page (depending on the device you are using):

How to follow blogs

This old school method does exactly what it says, and you simply receive an email every time a new blog post is published. Of course, email doesn’t seem to be popular anymore, so if you prefer something else, you can explore other options. Following your favourite bloggers on social networks is a good idea since most authors use those platforms to promote new posts. It doesn’t always work well because social media algorithms work in mysterious ways and the posts may not appear in your feed. What you can do to avoid that is enabling notifications for a specific account. This screenshot is from Twitter:

How to follow blogs

When it comes to Facebook pages, you can click on the three dots, select Follow settings, and choose the Favourites option. That should make the posts more visible in your feed.

How to follow blogs

Such tricks will help you access more content, but they have their downsides too since you will see everything the author posts. You may be interested only in the blog posts, so receiving ten notifications a day about something else isn’t ideal. Fortunately, there is a more convenient solution available thanks to the fact that most blogs, including this one, run on WordPress. You can usually see a follow button in the sidebar, or you can subscribe directly through WordPress Reader.

How to follow blogs

This option is pretty cool because you receive web notifications when new posts are published, and you can decide which articles you are going to read. I believe it’s worth having a WordPress account even if you don’t have a blog because it will allow you to follow your favourite websites and write comments.  

Another convenient way to follow blogs is using an RSS reader. People used to wax lyrical about them some time ago, but it all seemed to be a little complicated to me. The good news is that aggregators such as Feedly are very user-friendly these days. You can create a feed with websites relevant to your interests, and the best thing is that it doesn’t matter if the blog is hosted by WordPress, Blogger, or any other service.

How to follow blogs

Thank you for reading this post, and I hope that you keep visiting this website. If you wish to follow the TEFL in Colombia blog, you can use all the aforementioned options: social media (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn), email notifications (available in the sidebar), WordPress Reader, and the RSS feed.

Webinar: How to use Web 2.0 for professional development

Centro Colombo Americano is a private language institute with branches in major Colombian cities. Last Friday, I delivered a webinar at a national ELT conference organised by CCA Bogotá. I had previously run a few workshops for students and teachers, but this was the first one focusing on a topic that I had chosen by myself. My webinar was one of many sessions taking place at the same time, so it was a low-key event attended mostly by people I know from real life.

How to use Web 2.0 for professional development

This is the abstract of my webinar:

Professional development is associated mainly with workshops and conferences, which are part and parcel of our teaching lives. It is also important to mention that there are additional sources of information available to teachers. This presentation aims to highlight the value of user-generated online content for professionals involved in ELT.

Social media sites can serve as much more than a platform for sharing memes and photos of food. They allow teachers to create their own personal learning network and learn from more experienced colleagues. It is valuable to stay in touch with teachers from around the world and share ideas with them, which can include ready-made lesson plans that can be used in one’s teaching practice.

There is also a plethora of useful information on ELT blogs. This type content is based on the author’s personal experience and it may provide the readers with inspiration for their own actions. Blogs also include guides for successfully obtaining advanced teaching qualifications.

Web 2.0 empowers teachers to get involved in the parts of professional development they find relevant to their own needs and interests. The presentation focuses on practical tips for taking advantage of this content and for getting involved in its production.

I know very well that Web 2.0 is just a buzzword that was popular fifteen years ago, and that it isn’t really used anymore. I figured that using fancy terms like that would increase the chances of having my proposal accepted. I was right because the organisers asked me to deliver a 40-minute workshop with a short Q&A session. This is how it went:

At first, I used Mentimeter to find out what ideas the participants associate with professional development.

Mind map: professional development

I then referred to Matt Ellman’s excellent blog post CPD is dead and here is why. I am sure that most teachers have attended workshops that turned out to be a complete waste of time. Ellman provides valid explanations for ineffectiveness of some CPD sessions, and suggests combining expert-guided learning with self-guided development. In my webinar, I stressed the importance of taking responsibility for your development as a teacher.

The main part of the session comprised of demonstrating how teachers can benefit from using social media and blogs. As I have mentioned before, there is a really nice community of ELT professionals on Twitter. I also find blogging very useful because it makes me reflect on my own teaching practice. By the way, I recommend watching Jim Fuller’s interview with Rachel Tsateri because they talked about the benefits of blogging and discussed other topics that developing teachers will find relevant.

There most likely isn’t a recording of the whole session, so I will leave only my slides here. I hope that you find some of the links to social media posts and blogs interesting. I imagine that a couple of the images may seem a little bit weird without an accompanying commentary, but I’m sure it’s obvious that they weren’t meant to be taken completely seriously.