Over two years ago, I wrote a blogging post giving some ideas for schools to get started and with the news that Posterous is closing, it makes sense to look at this and see if it is all still relevant. I must declare an interest in that I was a Blogger user, but moved to WordPress, so I do prefer the latter but maybe this is just because I am more used to it? But at the end of the day, just get blogging. Whether this is for you as a teacher sharing ideas or if it’s with your class, it doesn’t matter. Just do it.
When starting a blog, there are a few choices.
1) Blogger - This is free. This is very simple to use and takes seconds to setup. It’s easy to post to, manage and share your posts. An example from @shelibb is here. Simply sign-in with your Google login.
You can enable Blogger through Google Apps, but I wouldn’t suggest it because then your children can post without any input or control from the teachers. The first time a teacher would see the post or any comments, is when they are live to the world. Not great. Guy Shearer has written about a way around this. His article is here.
- This is free. I’ve never used this but it comes highly recommended. This provides logins for your pupils too.
3) Primary Blogger
– This is free. It uses the WordPress service, but has been tweaked with primary schools in mind. This means it comes with a stack of plugins and upgrades to improve it for school use. Takes a little bit longer than Blogger, but gives more customisation. I would avoid WordPress.com, although free, as it isn’t as good as Primary Blogger. One great option within WordPress (and I don’t know if it’s available in Blogger – I did try looking but couldn’t find anything) is the ability to have different levels and roles. So in my class, the teacher can write and post automatically, but when a child logs in, they can only write a draft post, which the teacher needs to check later.
This guide here
says that Blogger is quicker, easier but with less options. It says:
So the choice is clear: If you want the fullest set of blogging features, you want WordPress, but if you’re looking for simplicity and streamlined blog creation and posting, Blogger is the way to go.
Now I know many people will want simplicity, but there are reasons for spending the extra time and going with WordPress.
Another way of blogging is to use a self-hosted WordPress. This is where you go to WordPress.org, download the WordPress software and install it online using a web hosting service. This will probably cost around £50 for 2gb of space and a domain name (via CS New Media
). There are people that can do this for you though, such as John Sutton
and Creative Blogs
! It then gives you the option of having all of your blogs under one roof. Although financially this will only cost around £50, it is worth noting that there may be considerable time setting this up, learning how the software works and customising it for your school. There are many people that can help with this though, do get in touch for more information.
Our school blog www.stjohnsblogs.co.uk
works using the self-hosted blog. I have the main, whole school blog, then there are 15 or so other blogs across the school that all follow the same rules and have the ability to have the same users. So, giving Issy in my class as an example, with her one login, she can login to my class blog, the School Council and the whole school blog. She simply logs in and chooses which one to post to. I can also then have one admin user which can manage every blog while every other teacher just has the login for their own blog. I get control, they get simplicity.
We have also recently started giving children their own blogs which they have been using to share a few ideas (www.stjohnsblogs.co.uk/children) As I said, WordPress does take a little bit longer to set up, but once it’s done, you only have to update it now and again (this takes a few clicks). So even if you have 100s of options, you don’t need to use them all do you? We have six year-olds that can blog on WordPress, so it’s not that difficult is it? In Reception, we blog with an app via our PlayBooks and there are also apps for Android and Apple too. You can also enable plug-ins to turn on the feature that lets you email your posts to your blog.
Why a paid WordPress over a free one? Embedding content e.g. Animoto, Photopeach and Youtube tends to work better in a paid blog.
As I said earlier, it doesn’t matter which tool you use, just try and start blogging with your class and share their learning with the world.