|Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com, after J. Howard Miller|
My students blog over here at my Kidblog site. It's on their own blogs that they control the content and have the ability to manage their own posts and comments. I have my class set up so that I moderate all posts and comments prior to them becoming public. This is an option. Although you can turn this feature off, you can only do it for your entire class, not individual students. There are lots of features that make Kidblog perfect for young bloggers. Some middle school students and probably all high school students would probably feel Kidblog.org is too primary for them. Wouldn't it be great if all students started with something like Kidblog.org in elementary school and by the time they graduated to middle school, they would be ready for the real world of blogging outside the Kidblog space? Here are some reasons why Kidblog is such a good blogging solution for young bloggers:
- Simple Wordpress interface - Your students will learn to work in a real blogging environment (Wordpress) but a very simplified version.
- Usernames & Passwords- You give the students usernames and when they're ready to log in, they choose their username from a drop-down window. They don't have to remember their usernames (and the usernames do not need to be unique to the Kidblog system - Kidblog takes care of that on the back-end). They WILL need to remember their passwords. Students can't change these, but you can.
- Normally on regular blogs, when a new comment is received, the blogger gets an email from the service. On Kidblog however, students don't have email set up, so in order for the students to acknowledge new comments they (up until recently) had to go back and manually check older posts. Now thanks to a recent Kidblog upgrade, when students log in, they can see new comments on their sidebar. This is great for kids who may not remember to go back to older posts to check for comments.
- Comments - With a simple checkbox, people can send private comments to the blogger. Teachers can also comment to the blogger without publishing the post. This is important if you want the student to make changes to the post before you publish it. Providing feedback in this manner, really helps students take ownership of their blogs. You can also set the option so that only certain users can comment. Setting it so that only logged in users can comment makes everyone accountable and gives your students a chance to learn how to be a good blogger and commenter. On the other hand, if you are moderating comments and in frequent conversations with your students, you may not feel the need for such tight controls. Either way, these granular controls are nice options to have.
- Privacy Options - You can make the blogs as private as you choose. You can even make the posts so private, that only the teacher can read the posts. This might be useful if your students are competing against each other, for example on an essay contest, and you didn't want them to see each other's posts until all submissions are posted.
- With the new Wordpress App for the iPhone, you can approve your students posts and comments on the go! I love this. Be sure to enable XML-RPC (required for publishing via iPhone). This is a setting found on your Kidblog dashboard.
Will we be able to keep our blogs next year?
The latest question from my students is, "Will we be able to keep our blogs next year?" This is something I am struggling with. These are the thoughts that have been running through my head:
- They will no longer be my students so it would not be appropriate for me to host/moderate their blogs.
- Will next year's teachers be willing to set up something similar and encourage them as have I?
- How do I stop them from creating new posts while preserving the current content? Do I just stop approving new posts? Change their passwords?
- How do I create a new class space "Mrs. Kolbert's Class" while the old class space is there without breaking the links? (... and so it all makes sense and is easy to navigate.)
- How do teachers who blog with their students every year move their students along?