Hi,
Does anyone use WordPress MU? My school started using it this year and I'm looking for other examples by classrooms and schools. I'm want to move beyond the features of the basic templates and am interested in seeing what widgets/plugins (i.e. hit counter, clock, clustrmap, etc.) teachers use and/or recommend. I teach second grade. Here's my classroom blog:

Views From the Third Floor

Thanks!

Tags: blogging, elementary

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Hi Lisa,

I used to use Wordpress MU and found it to be too complicated for my students in grades 7 and 8. Some of them found it to be "too technical." Don't get me wrong - I really liked it and it did most of the things I wanted at the time. However, the fact that it had to be installed on our own servers was a bit problematic because I needed to speak with the IT department every time I wanted to add a plug-in or make any modifications.

So, I started looking for other solutions and eventually found 21classes. I've been using their services (web-based) for a while now and am very pleased with both the platform itself and the tech support. If you are interested in moving beyond the basic functionality, I would highly recommend it.

One of its most useful features in regards to community-building is the fact that it aggregates all blogs, entries, and comments on one main portal page. That page is our community portal where all the recent entries and comments can be easily tracked. It's also a central location for the students to log into their accounts.

21classes also makes it easy to modify individual student templates. Students can modify colours, fonts, the top banner and many other aspects of their blogs. I do admit that one of the strengths of Wordpress MU is the wide selection of templates. However, the software does not allow students to easily modify their templates once they select the one that they want. As a result, when we were using WordPress, many of my students still ended up with the same templates and the feedback I received from the students was that they wanted more freedom to personalize their spaces.

I've written about 21classes on my blog. Take a look to get a better picture. I think your second graders would enjoy adding their own images to their blog in order to make it more personal.

- Konrad
Thanks for the tip. Does that mean I should definitely abandon edublogs with my third graders? My blog isn't really taking off because I'm so worried about privacy all the time.
I am also limited by strict privacy rules at my school. I've developed a simple strategy: the students use only their first names, and the name of the school and our location are never disclosed. Would that work for you?

If you are comfortable with your blog right now, don't abandon it. I find that moving blogs halfway through the year is not a good idea, unless it's absolutely necessary. After all, the students get used to their place and a sense of belonging and maybe even community can develop over time if the same familiar platform is used. But, if you decide that the advantages of moving outweigh the disadvantages of the current platform, then it might be time to move.

As I said in my previous post, I liked the flexibility of 21classes and the fact that it encourages creativity and a sense of belonging in my students. So, I decided to move, but not after a lengthy period of deliberation.

Also, your blog does not have to be publicly accessible in order to be an effective community. It's just a question of encouraging the students to share their voices and (this, I think is huge) interact with each other and each other's texts.
Thank you so much for your response. We're nearly at the end of our school year now anyway, so I have an opportunity to start afresh. I will have a look at your recommended platform. Certainly, the opportunity to write for someone other than the teacher shoud be enough but I'm always looking for more. We're an isolated little community in Australia and the idea of shutting out the world because we're scared of cyber predators will limit our opportunities for interaction. Fortunately however, they won't limit MINE. I love Classroom 2.0 and I really appreciate the supportive and encouraging environment it offers beginners like me.
Yes, I've been using WordPress MU to get blogs underway at my school.

For plugins, the main ones we use are Role Manager (to better fine tune what each student has control over), Dashboard Lite (to make the Dashboard simpler), GT Post Approval 0.3 Beta (so teachers can monitor posts before they're published) and Angsuman's Authenticated WordPress Plugin (to keep blogs private for parents who are worried about that sort of thing.)

For widgets, we haven't made much use of those yet. I'm not sure students have access to that section at this time. Something to think about!
Our school division took a subscription to edublogs this year. We mostly use the blogs for projects or teacher training at this point. We'll be getting more classroom teachers involved shortly Here are some samples for you:

http://ppsblogs.net/tech_cadet_boot_camp/ this was a summer camp that was focused on technology immersion for students in grades 4-6

http://ppsblogs.net/camp_coral_reef/ was technology camp for middle school student for the summer

http://ppsblogs.net/write2 was a technology camp for teachers the teachers each were given their own blog, but only a few have kept them up...

http://ppsblogs.net/crimescene/ was used for my supervisor's NECC 2007 presentation

http://ppsblogs.net/deborahdaniels is one of our fifth grade teachers who has really taken off with the blogs. Her blog links to her student blogs which she hosts on http://classblogmeister.com/

You shouldn't have to worry about the privacy issues with Edublogs. They have lotts of settings that you can use to make your blog a private world for your kids. That's what Debbie Daniels did...I did a post on the student privacy guidelines on my blog http://ppsblogs.net/ruthokoye/2007/10/17/52/ Hope this helps...
Ruth
This post is so close to what I was about to cross-post from newlearning
I am struggling - could use your help.
What is the perfect combination of software applications (web 2.0) for a K12 school district?

What criteria should we be searching out?
I'm starting a wiki page for this here.
Feel free to add to the wiki by joining (also gives me a chance to check out Wetpaint)

a copy of wiki post:

Requirements
1. ease of use
monitoring / private? / grouping
2. wiki functionality
3. blogging
4. downloading / archiving

Do these fit? How?
Ning

Wetpaint

Wikispaces

PBwiki

Edublogs


Blogmeister


other blogging software: Lifetype / b2evolution / more

Any help would be appreciated - or at Newlearning, too.
Any updates to this? Anyone have anything to add. I am looking at WordpressMU as an option to use for blogging (install on our own server?)

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