I would like to see my middle school (8th grade) students launch a school blog designed for the other students on campus. I envision it taking on the form of a student newspaper that tackes student issues and contains: staff interviews, student created resources dealing with positive character traits, podcasts with daily announcements, surveys, etc. The possibilities are endless... While I can envision it, I would prefer my students be able to view some student-run blogs or wikis that are already in use so that they can see what other students have put together. If you are working with students in this capacity please pass along any information that you believe might of benefit. Thanks so much!

Tags: blogs, newspaper, student, student-run, wikis

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You might want to look at this blog post for an example of a middle school student newspaper.
Ann, Thanks for the link... The students have pulled some ideas from it.
Although you could use blog software (WordPress certainly could be configured to do so), you may be better off with a Content Management System for such. Joomla and Drupal come to mind, but they may be more complex than necessary or desired (particularly the latter).

Joomla, with which I have more experience, can be set up so that students can submit content to be approved by an administrator or teacher. There is a large supportive community with many free templates and plugins. It really isn't that complex once it is set up.

I really don't have anything to show as examples, I am doing blogs and wikis with my students, rather than online newspapers.
Steve, We will be using Edublogs to host our site -- so I guess that means we will be using WordPress. : ) I am hoping we can get the newspaper idea off the ground so that students coming in next year have something to build on and those who have moved on have something to look back at. I am afraid if we keep do invidual blogs the students will remain me-centered... I would like them to start looking outside of their immediate circle for inspiration.
WordPress will work, but be aware that if you use free edublog pages, they will insert inline ads in your content. It is probably worth paying the niminal fee to have them removed.

Replying to another post of yours regarding security. WordPress can be configured so that you moderate all content that appears to the public. If students are configured as authors, they can submit content for approval by a publisher or admin.
Steve, I am already a Edublogs supporter so the ad issue has been addressed. : ) The issue of admin approval is one I am working through this week...
You got it covered then. Admin approval is very simple and pretty much works out of the box. Make sure that you have comments as well as posts moderated. I found Peter's collaboration Email a useful plugin for notifications of content pending approval.
I've often thought that a school wiki would be a great idea. Public school web sites are usually so bad and are often not kept up. They seldom offer any truly current and useful information. Much like a staff of students might have published a school newspaper 10 years ago, having students run a school wiki would 1) provide valuable social media experience to the students involved, 2) make the school site a fully inclusive and student-driven exercise and 3) save the school system the cost of paying someone to update the web site.
The problem with a wiki is they generally cannot be moderated. Most content management systems are set up so users can submit content that is, in turn, reviewed and published if appropriate.

Otherwise, I agree. I think it is a great idea to have students provide content for a school web site. I'd love to get our journalism teacher on board with it, but I haven't had much luck.
Steve's got a point. Though wikis such as wikispaces can be monitored by RSS, teachers are often concerned about what is shown in public.

A common solution is to protect the wiki so that it is publicly viewable but you must be a member to post, and then have students understand the guidelines for appropriate content.

If you wanted to give students more latitude, e.g. to simulate the editorial process of a newspaper, I could see having a totally private wiki where students worked on their drafts, and then a public (still protected) wiki where a subset of articles were "published" to the public.

What other strategies are teachers using?
The power of wiki is accessibility. There's currently a debate raging at Wikipedia over whether new user contributions should be moderated by more established editors. I say no. Wikipedia wouldn't have become what it is with those kinds of restrictions.

As a school web site, there are two things I'd put into place to curb vandalism:

1. Don't allow anonymous contributions. By simply requiring registrations to use a full name (not necessarily published on the site, but available to admins) allows anyone who wants to contribute to do so and also avoids the kind of vandalism anonymity might produce.

2. Establish a staff of students (overseen by a teacher as is deemed necessary) to monitor changes and roll back anything inappropriate. It would be important to educate these students as to what is appropriate (essentially the same kind of editorial guidelines a school paper might follow).

I'd love to hear about any school trying this. I plan to concact my local high school's web master and see if I can help them get started with a project like this.
I love wikis, I use wikis all the time and maintain several wiki sites. Some are wide open and others are more restrictive.

I just don't see wikis as the best tool for a school website. I have learned (sometimes the hard way) to keep myself from becoming so attached to a particular software that I try to bend into something that it is not. Sure I can use a crescent wrench, but the job is easier with a 7/8 in socket on a three inch extension.

Wikis have a different look and feel--although that too can be changed. A CMS generally has a submission, moderation, publication work flow in place. It can be just as accessible as a wiki if you set it up that way. Database driven calendars can automate the appearance of events and take them off the page automatically. New articles can displace old ones on their own. There are numerous other advantages. CMS are not fashionable Web 2.0 tools, but they are every bit as much a great means of web publishing.

I don't know about the culture of your school, but in ours, a mistake that leads to inappropriate content on a school website could shut the whole enterprise down. Everyone should be concerned about what is shown to the public. If it is the school website, it represents the school.



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