Getting Started with Class Blogs 21 April, 2008Posted by paralleldivergence in blogging, Brad & Phil, children, education, ICT in Education, Internet, Life, technology, Web 2.0.
Tags: blogs, classroom, education, schools, students, Web 2.0
In the article “Why Teachers and Schools Should be Blogging“, I discussed the reasons and benefits of blogging in the classroom, but for the blogging-novice, there are student privacy, security and policy concerns that must be considered. Assuming you took notice of the content of that first article, this one will take you through the first steps of creating a class blog and is part of a series that will clarify and develop this process for teachers and schools starting out.
Firstly, parental permission should be obtained for any student who will participate in the class blogging process. An introductory statement for parents should explain the benefits of Internet Publishing via a class blog and how it applies to 21st Century Education. Following this should be a request for permission for the child to participate in the class blog. An example consent form in MS-Word format can be downloaded here and adapted to your own needs to get you started. Explicit permission needs to cover the publishing of student work on the internet including student photos and videos. It should be made clear that students will not be identified by full name.
Secondly, the teacher needs to keep control of any and all class blogs that are created. Keeping control means keeping the blog passwords secure. Students should not be provided the password to the class blog. Remember, with that password, the blog can be edited from any internet connection point in the world. If you don’t control the password, you can’t control the class blog.
Thirdly, it’s important in a classroom situation to control the comments and feedback received at the blog. All blogs can allow for two-way communication. Students can publish their work and visitors to the blog can comment on what they see, with students then replying to those comments. When comments are open, anything submitted is instantly published and visible on the blog. For this reason, it is important that the teacher configure the blog for MODERATED comments. With moderated comments, the teacher is alerted via email whenever a comment has been posted and is asked to check then approve or delete the comment. This way, only approved comments will ever appear on the blog.
Having said this, once the blog has been created and a good set of work published to it, comments and feedback should be strongly encouraged. Ask your students to tell their parents and relatives about their class blog. Have the students proudly discuss their work and get their parents to contribute their thoughts to the blog. That way the blog becomes both a valuable education AND communication resource. Contact other schools that have class blogs and ask if you could setup reciprocal links. Have your students converse via the blog with the students from other schools. Consider joint projects that can be published to the blogs. The other school could be in the same city, in another town in your state or in another country altogether. And when you’ve found a school to work with, don’t stop there, find another one and setup a wider-linked global community.
Lastly, once you start blogging, don’t think of it as a one-off project that dies after a term. That initial blog should be a springboard to a series of blogs covering a wide range of topics, all of which are linked to the curriculum and to your school environment. Once a classroom blog proves successful in one class, work out how the concept can be extended to other classes. The classroom of the 21st Century must lead to the School of the 21st Century and ultimately to an education system for the 21st Century.
The next article in this series will look more closely at the blog-naming process and introduce you to some appropriate on-line blogging services. Why not share your experiences with classroom blogging in the comments section?
Part Three: Still Interested in a Class Blog?