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Being a novice, myself at blogging, I have spent the last two weeks, pouring over different topics The ultimate guide to getting started with blogging! -Edublogs – education blogs for teachers, students and institutions on how to get started with blogging. My reason–not because I needed help with this blog–I wanted to start making blogs for the elementary teachers in my school and to assist them by learning how to eventually set up student blogs that could be linked to their class blogs. So far I don’t think I have the elementary teachers convinced yet that class blogs and eventually student blogs are important enough to spend time learning about them. I think the idea overwhelms them since they are already busy. The important question comes down to:

Why Blog?   Here is a list from EduBlog about why teachers should blog:

  • extend the classroom walls
  • create a class website
  • replace newsletter
  • connect with parents
  • create 24/7 learning environment
  • connect with a global audience
  • improve literacy
  • develop a voice
  • express creativity
  • obtain feedback
  • facilitate online discussions
  • share ideas
  • to reflect
  • interact with others
  • connect with others
  • share resources
  • discuss ideas
  • for digital literacy
  • integrate technology into the classroom

If I can get our teachers to see the importance of blogging. How can I assist them in the initial setting up class blogs and student blogs so they only have to adjust the content for their classrooms? So I set out to become the expert on how to set up blogs in EduBlog and the more I worked in dashboard the more questions I had. After spending about a week working on setting up 32 student blogs, I finally went to help and support and found out some answers pretty quickly. Wish I had done that in the first place! I guess now I know to direct teachers to the EduBlog’s teacher challenge of how to set up a class blog in 30 days. The next challenge is how to set up student blogs in 30 days starting on Monday. I think I will now join this professional development blog and try not to cram 30 days into two weeks.

As I struggle with making student blogs, I ponder over how to set the privacy settings. Ultimately I will have to abide by our school’s technology policy, but I also know that if we want students to have an authentic audience then we need to be a little more relaxed in our concerns. In keeping with how to keep our students safe I have set up the following parameters for now:

  • student email accounts are not linked to the students’ blogs
  • first names only
  • avatars instead of personal photos of students
  • teacher’s blog is set at only logged in users who are subscribers can see the blog
  • student blogs are set to only logged in users can see blogs (this might be changed later)
  • student blogs are set at author level with two teachers as administrators of their blogs

I wish I could leave the permissions set for students as administrators at first, to allow them to choose their own theme and set up widgets for their pages, start a wiki (so that it can be added to later), change their Nickname to their first name rather than their EduBlog account name, etc. But I’m not sure I can take the chance to give fifth grade students full administrative powers because they could delete me, or change my password so that as the administrator I couldn’t get back in. I guess I have to leave it at author first, and then log in as the administrator to make changes to their blog themes one at a time. How do other teachers do this? Do you choose the theme for them and make all the widget changes you want before you tell the students about the site?

I found out how to have all the accounts set up so that it would send the activation announcement to my own gmail account. The first time I set up accounts, I made the mistake of using the student’s own email accounts and they all received notification about the blog before I wanted them to know about it. Live and learn. I deleted their accounts because it was linked to my blog rather than their classroom blog, so it was a mistake that I could learn from and apply it when I tried setting up the fifth grade student accounts.

I have learned that the more I learn the less I know. But at least I am enjoying the challenge! If anyone has any suggestions on how to set up student accounts, please share with me your knowledge. I also need ideas of how students can use their blogs to convince the teachers that this is a very important part of their educational experience and it shouldn’t take a back seat to their content but rather interwoven into it.