How to Get a Classroom of Kids Blogging in Under 5 Minutes!
<firstimage=”//static.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/shutterstock_62685388.jpg” />Don’t you just love it when someone thinks logically about a problem and comes up with a simple solution to solve it which everyone can enjoy? Well, this time it’s teachers who are on the receiving end of a well-thought-out plan.
Kidblog.org is a service designed by teachers for teachers. They have made the process of creating and monitoring a class blog safe and efficient. Sign-ups are fast and simple, making it easy to co-ordinate a whole class of new students. At the same time, the blog’s privacy and security is protected by default. This makes life incredibly easy for the teacher, allowing you to get straight in to the fun bit of blogging!
The primary differences between Kidblog and any other free blogging platform is the default class-only privacy level and the superbly easy way of bulk-adding user accounts for students without requiring email addresses and confirmation of invites. Anyone who has ever tried to set up a group-run blog can attest that it’s sometimes a little tricky to ensure the technophobes verify their invites. Imagine doing that with a class-full of kids! The Kidblog system means you skip all of that fuss and move on to the blogging straight away. If you have your .csv file ready, you could sign up and have your kids blogging in less than five minutes!
Setting up a teacher account
The teacher account is a straightforward sign-up: choose a password, add a few details and you’re in.
Create a New Class
The blog creation is controlled by “classes”. The theory is that you’ll want the class to collaborate on a blog together, with all members as users of that blog.
The class name is the blog name, which becomes part of the URL for the class blog too. You’ll want to set up initially as one class, even if there’s smaller group projects within the class, since the default privacy level is for students to be able to see other classmate’s work. If they’re not in the same class, they won’t be able to see it (or you’ll need to change the privacy).
You’re limited to 200 kids per class, but it’s suggested that if you need more usernames you simply start a new class, add the new users to that and then invite them to the original class. You can easily keep adding classes every school year and importing the users from older classes. This gives the kids a little continuity, too.
Privacy and Security
Permissions for viewing posts are set by default to “Class members only”, so only the people you’ve added to this class will be able to see posts. It’s also possible to add more teachers to administrate and to add parent accounts as guests if you want to enable parents to see the classwork. Comments are set to be moderated by default, so teachers will be able to block any of the nasty comments made by certain kids. If you do choose to make the blog public, you can continue to filter unsolicited comments.
Adding users can be done individually or as a bulk upload, which is recommended.
The bulk upload involves creating a .csv file with just name and password. You can do this easily by using a spreadsheet with a column for name and a column for passwords, then exporting it as a .csv file.
Once the users are added, they can log in and start writing straight away. Don’t worry about the usernames – your kids won’t need to memorise those!
If you’ve got several groups of kids in the one class all working on different group projects, you’ll want to set up appropriate “Groups” each with relevant names.
Once the groups are set up, kids viewing the blog can look at posts just by one person or filter to show just relevant groups.
Tell your students to go to the blog URL (you find your blog URL by clicking on the “Go to Class Blog” link at the top of your dashboard). Kids can click on the “Log In” link and they are given a drop-down list of names to choose from. So, they only need to remember a password!
Once logged in, they can browse their friend’s posts or filter for groups using the drop-down menu. They can write posts which must then be moderated by the teacher before publishing.
Kidblog is based on WordPress, but has been customised with a teacher’s needs in mind. It’s free, uncluttered, ad-free, easy to set up and private by default. No information is collected from students and the teacher remains in control of all activity. My only request to Kidblog would be to add a few more default themes so that there can be a little more variety!
I strongly encourage all teachers and other facilitators of kids activities to have a go at using Kidblog. The possibilites are endless: writing groups; book clubs; assignments; group work; uploading photos of artwork; team spirit and post-game analysis; practise blogging in a second language; or getting kids to simply list off the most interesting things they learned that day. What will you use Kidblog for?
If you want more to read, here’s some articles you’ll love:
- 10 Online Learning Tools
- 2 Sites for Teachers to Download Teaching Resources
- Make History Fun by Teaching CSI Style
- 5 Free Online Encyclopedias Suitable for Kids
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