Blogging (whether personal or for educational purposes) is a popular form of communication with others online. Those who chose to blog should also consider some best practices to get people interested in reading their posts and interested in returning to read other posts. Some best practices for educational blogging include establishing norms/guidelines and safety issues.
When a teacher decides to use a blog with their students some norms/guidelines need to be established with students so they follow the rules and become successful with the process. Teachers should model how to post a blog and how to comment on a blog. An acknowledgement of proper language usage and how to respond respectively to others needs to be modeled. One way to get students involved is to create a blogging contract with them. Once the rules have been established a “contract” can be signed by the students acknowledging they understand, will follow these rules and participate in Internet safety. Parents should also be notified of the intended use of blogs in the classroom and be allowed to access the blogs to see the learning that is taking place.
Part of using blogging platforms in schools is adhering to the school/district’s Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). Many families and students sign these policies at the beginning of the year but a review of what these policies are in relation to the blogging world can be useful and helpful for students. This review can help protect the teacher and their students with what can and cannot be done with the Internet and social media platforms.
With the access to Internet by the students, safety issues arise. Digital Citizenship is guidelines that educators and students should follow while accessing the Internet. There are nine guidelines that include communication, etiquette, rights, and responsibilities. These guidelines should be reviewed with students prior to accessing the blogging website. Part of Digital Citizenship is not sharing personal information with others online. Teachers should set up accounts for students with just their initials or some form of identification that only they know.
Teachers should also discuss the possibility of cyber bulling between classmates and others. If a blogging platform that is used allows others outside of the class to access it, teachers need to be aware of what is being posted and protect their students from inappropriate comments. Students need to be aware that once something is posted they cannot take it back. Teachers also need to monitor posts between classmates when they are responding to others. Going back to modeling appropriate responses can decrease the change of classmate’s cyber bulling each other. The students should also feel comfortable enough approaching or contacting the teacher if anything was happening.
Other safety features when it comes to blogging with students include: blocking personal information, using a password protected site, blocking or being aware of pop-up advertisements, using a site geared for students, and monitoring the site and postings on a regular basis.
American School of Bombay. (n.d.). Best Practices in Blogs. Retrieved from http://estig.asb-wiki.wikispaces.net/Best+Practices+in+Blogs
LABS. (n.d.). WordPress in the Classroom: Best Practices. Retrieved from http://labs.da.org/wordpress/wordpress-in-the-classroom-best-practices
Office of Instructional Assessment. (n.d.). Extended Learning. Retrieved from http://elearn.arizona.edu/blogs/bestpractices/bp-extendinglrn.html
Ribble, M. (2014). Nine themes of digital citizenship. Retrieved from http://www.digitalcitizenship.net/Nine_Elements.html