Saturday, May 5, 2012

Blogging? What tools to use?

If you have been thinking of using a blog for your self as a teacher to share resources or to use with your students. Keep on reading here are some helpful tips and tricks that I have compiled for you!

I was trying out different blogging tool to see what would be the easiest for teachers to use especially if you have never blogged before. I set up my own account to see how easy it would be to navigate, customize and figure out how to make posts so that I could teach others how to do it. I don't mind winging it when I am helping people but it is nice to know that I have seen the interface before.
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Anyway, if you are brand new to blogging and are not planning on having your whole class blog with you, then I think might be the vehicle for you. It is run by google so it integrates seamlessly with googles other tools. Maybe I am impartial because I have been using many of the google tools including Google Docs and Gogle Apps for education. I have learned the interface and how works so it is now second nature to me.

I continued my blogging journey and noticed that when I read blogs and even website many of them used wordpress. I really liked how completely different and how very professional many of these blogs looked like so I set up a wordpress account as well. When I googled wordpress I encountered 2 websites. and So what was the difference between the two? Easy... is a quick set up, hosted by wordpress on their server and fairly easy to set up, it is web-based, so therefor you can add posts to it as long as you have access to the internet. was a little more complex, you need to download the wordpress blogging application, install it on your computer, find a webhost for your blog (costs money) then start blogging. If you are friendly with the IT people at your school they might allow you to host your blog on the school server.
I then turned my eyes to blogging tools used by teachers with their students and the first one I encountered was Edublogs was pretty easy to set up, the interface looked exactly like wordpress so I suspect they are partners. I liked the fact that you as a teacher can upgrade your account and for $3/month  get 50 student accounts to your classblog. $3 per month is not a lot of money but it is still money for a teacher to shell out. Maybe they can get it paid for by the school but with budget cuts and so forth I am not so sure about that.I also looked at what controls the teacher had in form of monitoring comments and monitoring who can access the blogs. Different schools have different policies on displaying students work so I wanted to make sure you could make it really secure. Edublogs fulfilled my requirements in that arena.

Another blogging tool I looked at was a blogging tool provided by David Warlick and the Landslide project. I looked at that one mainly because my favorite Kindergarten Teacher Maria Knee from Derfield, NH uses it to blog with her kids. I know it is secure and allows for many controls. This is where I got a little frustrated, I tried to sign up for an account but it keept asking me for a school pass code and it did not give any  further instructions. I have now e-mailed David Warlick to see what my next step should be.

The final classroom blogging tool I looked at was This application is very bare bones, but super easy to use. So for those of you that just wants to have a forum for your students to blog but don't care about it being flashy and fancy, this is the tool for you! Here is a link to my friend Mr. Gagnon, he uses it with his 3rd grade class!
Please feel free to comment to this post and add suggestions for other blogging tools I should explore. I did look into the blog feature offered by Apple as part of the iWeb application. However, many features like comments etc is only available if you host it on Apple's own mobile me server.

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