3/21/08 UPDATE: Has anyone used the blog function that's part of ePals? I'm checking now, it looks promising.

I've been trolling the murky waters of blog platforms and after lots of trial and error and reading of these clrm2.0 discussions I'm still having trouble finding the perfect classroom blog for not-so-tech-savvy 3-5 teachers to use with their students. Here's what I've tried and the associated issues... I'd love your input.

WordPress MU - Our dist recommends, hosts WPMU. Problem: Bar for use is too high. You have to learn quite a bit just to create the blog. Embedding lively content (flickr photos, video from teacher tube) is hard.

Blogger - Very easy to use, easy to embed lively Web content, but requires a google acct w/ email (AUP policy no-no, go with bogus email accts?) then there's the pesky "next blog" button that I still can't seem to strip out of the template even after reading lots of advice.

Classblogmeister - Nice features, including easy embedding and easy association of student blogs with the "mother" teacher blog, but there are broken bits. Can't get student blogs to show "assignment", (the prompt kids reply to), can't approve st. comments to teacher blog without all kinds of hinky duplication of comments.

Edublogs: It appears I would need the school account ($) to associate student blogs with teacher so teacher can approve posts/comments before they go live. Kids need email, too.

Drupal: Don't get me started. Beautiful, great functionality, and I'd have to hire a drupalmaster to set it up. UNLESS Nancy Bosch has easy solutions: Look at her wonderful blog. I want one that functions just like this. :)

NOW, I've heard about a closed blog system you can create and host locally, giving kids the blogging experience, all the functionality you'd really need for this age... I can't remember the platform. Ideas?

The power of blogging is so great and I want teachers and kids to experience that, but I've GOT to lower the bar for participation or it's a nonstarter.

Tags: blogging

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Hi Jane, our school has started individual student blogs this year.So often we are filled with fear about student content and what might happen. In my relatively short experience, I have found that students from grades 4-10 have not disappointed me and they are constantly reminded of the fact they are in a public space and the world is watching them. I think it is a great learning activity and one where we can show students some trust and responsibility in an educational setting. I have joint administration rights with them and am setting up google reader rss feeds so I know when they post new entries. I can keep an eye on the ones I think might let themselves into trouble. The odd spam comment has come through but students have been very quick to delete them.
Hi Jane,
Wondering if you have looked at the Gaggle blogs. Many of our schools use Gaggle free email, but I don't know much about the blogs. I'd be interested in your opinion.
Jane,
We're using a hosted blogging/podcasting community for our students developed from ELGG. It's Open Source and our IT director has made it user friendly for both teachers and students. You can take a look at it at: https://webapps.saugus.k12.ca.us/community4students/

The great thing is that if you are interested he will happily share the source code and information needed to start the program. It allows both blogs and podcasts along with embedding of Quicktime, Voicethread, Slideshare and the like. Leaves room for lots of creativity. Also it has safety built in so that no student post goes public before a teacher approves it. Same for comments. They go through the teacher first. We've had great success with it.
If you want more information on this, email me and I can put you in touch with him.
A
I was just wondering about it myself. I just started to create this Ning network for 8th graders and I hope I'll get cooperation there. I think the Ning platform offers it all, plus, if you state it's for education you can ask them to remove the advertisements.
I'd create a Ning but while it's not prohibited for use with younger kids exactly, you do get ads unless you get the edu one meant for 13 and up. I guess that means Ning doesn't want little kids using. Kathy's suggestion to keep it closed.... hmmm. Or-Tal I'm interested in how it goes with your 8th graders. I love Ning, belong to eight different ones of very different flavors.
Well, I am planning on introducing it to them next Friday. Will bring you up to date.
Ning is ad-free for all k-12 I think...
I swear by blogger. For an example check out http://classofambrose.blogspot.com

To disable the next blog check out this post
http://ambrose.edvibes.com/how-to-disable-bloggers-next-blog-button/

good luck.

Alex
thank you!!!
edublogs has simplified adding large numbers of blogs AND usernames. You can read about it here; http://edublogs.org/2008/03/11/simply-create-blogs-and-usernames-fo...
Thank you, Alice! I'm giving Edublogs and 21Classes a good once-over...
It may be my imagination but I think Edublogs is ridiculously slow.
I'm going to agree with James and put in a plug for 21classes. It's very easy to use and manage for both students and teachers...not a lot of bells and whistles, but a very good place to start with elementary age students. I used 21classes to set up student blogs for six 5th grade classes, four 4th grade classes, and even 1 3rd grade class at my school. I have over 220 students blogging now, and they love it! Teachers are finding lots of ways to use them. Good luck!

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