I've been intrigued by the potential of Twitter and microblogging in education, yet I have had concerns about security and privacy. A few days ago, I ran into Will Richardson's blog post about the new WordPress theme Prologue. Prologue provides a "twitter" or microblogging environment on a WP installation. Since we have WordPressMU on our school's webhost account, it was no big deal to create a new blog to give it a try. We have total control over privacy and access. One can only read, post or comment when logged in and accounts must be created by an administrator.

I created a "Prologue" site for my class and it has really opened my eyes to microblogging. I'm writing about my experiences on my blog.

Tags: blogging, microblogging, twitter, wordpress

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This looks really interesting Steve. Thanks for the links. I look forward to seeing how it works in your classroom.
This is really a cool plug in. After playing with it off and on most of the day (I did actually have to teach at some point), I have to sadly conclude that while this makes a really cool personal Twitter, it can only be a private Twitter with the MU version of Wordpress. I probably should've guessed that, but I had to know. =)
Hmm. The developers blog referred to above talks about a password protected security option and gives this link to the Privacy Options under the options menu.

I don't see the last option option in my regular WordPress Blog either. In fact I did not see it in WordPressMU until I dropped in the "More security Options" Plugin. I find that sometimes things accidentally disappear when WordPress code is updated. I will look into this more.

This is way too cool to pass by. There has got to be a way! Let me poke around.
I looked at the WordPress forum where other have noted this. If you are not adverse to copying and pasting a little code into a file, here it is:

Hi, under WP2.0, I've created a "registered only" blog by adding the following lines to wp-blog-heading.php (between "require_once( dirname(__FILE__) . '/wp-config.php');" and "wp();"...

// Is there a user logged in?

if (! $user_ID ) :
include './wp-login.php';

// end

Wanted to put the check in as early as possible. Stops anyone who isn't registered viewing the blog and redirects them to the log-in page. Simple and effective.

I have not tried this--yet. If you like, I can install a wordpress blog and give it a whirl. Nonetheless, it seems strange that a WordPress Developer is not ware that current releases do not allow this option. I might comment on his blog regarding this because he touts the utility of the private Prologue WordPress so much!
It's probably me, but I can't get this to work. I really don't know much of anything about php, so that might be part of the problem.
I'm going to try to work this out over the weekend. I'm no php coder, but I've done my share of hacking code.

On another note, that aforementioned privacy option is an option with WordPress.com as opposed to the self hosted WordPress. You could always go to WordPress.com and set up a free account, then use the Prologue theme (which is one of the theme options with WordPress.com).
I'd considered that and even played with that a bit (it works fine at WordPress.com). The disadvantage of WordPress's site is that all your students/colleagues/co-workers/friends all have to be WordPress members in order to join your blog/Twitter.
Agreed--this is why I almost always look for a self hosted solution.

I have found plugins that allow you to password protect the blog--not the most elegant solution. From there you could allow anyone to comment, but you would not have the accountablity of a login. Of course, you could require users to log in to an account after entering the password protected blog--but two logins would be somewhat onerous.

Give me a couple days and I'll see what I can hack together. If I succeed, I will package it up to make it easy.
Here's a plugin that may do it for you. FTP to wp-content/plugins and activate in the backend.

I'm still going to set up a test WordPress blog to hack that snippet code. I might even try to package all the modifications I've made to WordPress and Prologue to make it easier if anyone is interested.
I just tried this and it works really nicely. That's a very nice find. Once you login you're right on the front page and not in the administrative area. That's just how you'd expect a Twitter/blog to work.
Okay--I got the hack to work fine.

Go to the blog and the login page come right up. Log in and you get to the user's backend. I'd like it better if it went directly to the front side, but WordPress MU does the same thing.

Give me a few minutes and I'll have a link to the entire modified wp-blog-header.php file on my blog. I've also made some minor changes to Prologue itself that improves its utility in my opinion and makes it just a little less confusing to the kids.

As I said before, I'd gladly put together the whole WordPress package complete with the privacy change and the hacked Prologue bundled in a zip if there is interest. That way you could just install it, select Prologue as the theme (unless I figure out how to make it the default) and get going!
This is a big issue in trying to protect a class blog using a self hosted wordpress installation. Please keep tinkering. I'd love a tutorial.. It is a little hard to follow the thread.



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