Student Blogging Activity 7 (Beginner): Set up your student blogs

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Class blogs are an excellent starting point.   But the most incredible outcomes are observed when students are progressed onto their own individual blogs.

Why?  Human nature!

As individuals we’re all driven by personal ownership; class blogs have less sense of ownership than an individual blog.

In this seventh activity you will:

  1. Learn about the recommended approach to setting up individual Student Blogs
  2. Gain tips for creating student blogs
  3. Learn how to create student blogs using the Blog & User Creator – Edublogs Pro/Campus users only
  4. Learn how to create student blogs using the Edublogs Signup page – free Edublogs users only
  5. Complete the extension activity (if you have time).

Step 1: Recommended Approach to Setting up Student Blogs

As highlighted in Student Blogging Activity 5 (Beginner): Add Students To Your Class Blog So They Can Write Posts the best approach to student blogging is to take it slowly.

Benefits of this approach include:

  1. Gives you time to increase your own skills while educating your students on appropriate online behaviour.
  2. You’re less likely to have problems if you take this approach.

If you decide to increase your students’ blogging roles it’s a good idea to introduce it slowly in the following three steps:

Step 1 Write comments on class blogs

Step 2Write posts on the class blog

Step 3Write posts on their own student blog

The idea is as they show increased responsibility you move them onto the next stage of blogging.  And remember you can stage granting students rights to post on the class blog and having their own student blog.

For example, you might gradually allow three students at a time rights to post on the class blog.  Then use these students to teach the next group of three students how to post on the class blog and so on.

Once they’re working well on the class blog then you start creating and assigning them their own individual student blog.

Step 2: Tips for creating student blogs

#1 Choosing Usernames and Blog URLs

Educators normally use the same name for both the student’s username and blog URL.  Keep them simple and easy for the student to remember.

Most use a combination of their student’s first name followed by numbers that might represent the year, class number and/or school initials.  They do this to protect the identity of the student by not including their last name and to ensure their username is unique (as Edublogs has close to 1,000,000 users).

For example, username misty16 or mistybp16.  For example, username mistybp16 and blog URL mistybp16.edublogs.org.

If you want the students to use the blog for their entire school life then use a combination of letters combined with a number that represents the year they started school or are finishing school.

#2 Adding yourself to  your student blogs

Always add yourself as an administrator to your student blog.

This means if you need to edit/delete a post, page or comment you can quickly access their blog from your blog dashboard.

The easiest way to do this is to set up your student blogs using the Blog & User Creator inside an Edublogs Pro blog — making sure you select add as Admin.

Accessing a student blog’s dashboard is as simple as:

  1. Click on Dashboard > My Blogs
  2. Click on the Dashboard link under the Blog Title you want to access and this will take you to the dashboard of that student blog

#3 Moderating Comments

Educators either prefer to let their students moderate their own comments or they moderate all the comments for their students.  There are pros and cons to each approach.

For those comfortable with students moderating comments we recommend you subscribe to the comment feeds from your student blogs — here is how to subscribe to their comments using Google Reader.

If you want to moderate all comments, so comments are only posted once you have approved them, you need to create the blogs using the gmail+ method.

How it works is you set up one Gmail account for your class and then add a + sign and a different number and/or letter(s) to the end of your email name for each student.

Gmails ignores anything in the first half of an email address after a plus sign.

So if you create each email with the format [email protected] all emails will be sent to the inbox of [email protected]

REMEMBER:

  • You must use a real gmail account– educators either use their own gmail account or set up a gmail account for their class e.g. [email protected]

#4 Assigning Student Role

You need to think about how much responsibility your students are given.  Do you want them to be able to write own posts/pages, change themes, add widget and approve comments or do you want (or need) to limit their level of responsibility?

The five roles for users you can give students on their student blogs are: Administrator; Editor; Author; Contributor; and Subscriber.

Deciding which role to assign them is a balance between:

  1. How much responsibility you’re comfortable with assigning your students
  2. School and District guidelines
  3. Providing them with an environment that’s motivating

If you want to approve all posts before they can be published then assign them the role of contributors.  If you do assign them the role of contributor it means their posts will be submitted as pending and you’ll need to visit their blog dashboard to approve their posts.   If you’ve added yourself as an admin user you can see all pending posts and comments on your student blogs by going to Dashboard > My Blogs.

For more info refer to Managing Students on Blogs…What Role Do You Assign Students?

For those comfortable with students having a higher level of responsibility I recommend you subscribe to the post feeds from your student blogs — here is how to subscribe to their posts using Google Reader.

Here is a summary of their differences based on User Capability:

Roles you can assign student users

Here is a summary of their differences based on access to features in the dashboard:

Access to menu items based on user role

Step 3: Create the student blogs

You can use any blogging platform you would like including Edublogs, WordPress, Blogger and TypePad.  These detailed instructions are for those using Edublogs.

How you create the blogs depends on the type of Edublogs blog you have:

  1. If you are using an Edublogs Pro/Campus blog – you create the student blogs using the Blog & User Creator inside your dashboard.
  2. If you are using a free Edublogs blog — you’ll need to create the student blogs using the Edublogs sign up page.  You’ll need to add yourself as an admin user once the blogs are created.

Remember spam filters, especially strict ones for institutional email addresses, often block activation and password reset emails from Edublogs.org. If unsure use free webmail accounts such as gmail, hotmail that don’t block these invitation emails.

There are no limitations on the number of student blogs you can create!

#1 Creating Student blogs using the Blog & User Creator

The Blog & User Creater is designed specificially to save time and make it easy for educators to mass create student blogs.

This feature is available only on Edublogs Pro and Edublogs Campus blogs.

Creating the blogs is a simple as:

1.  Go to Users > Blog & User Creator in your Dashboard.

2.  Click on Create Blogs tab.

3.  Select their role on their new blog, their role on your blog, your role on their blog and select ‘Upgrade to give access to new premium features and other features’.

  • We recommend the use of pre-set passwords as it means students will be able to log in if you got the email address wrong or their login email is blocked by filters on their email account.

3. Add the usernames

  • Use only lowercase letters and numbers, with no spaces, in the username
  • The username is what they use to sign into the blog dashboard and is displayed on posts and comments they write. You can’t change a username, however you can change what name is displayed.
  • If you are creating a new username and see ‘Sorry, that username already exists!’ it means you need to use a more unique username. Remember there is over 1,000,000 users in Edublogs.org. A simple solution for students is to use a combination of their first name, school initials and their room or year.

4. Add their email address

  • You can’t create several usernames with the same email address because the system resets password based on email address. But you can trick it using the gmail+ method
  • Spam filters, especially strict ones for institutional email addresses, often block these activation emails. If unsure use free webmail accounts such as gmail, hotmail that don’t block these invitation emails.

5. Add their password

  • Leave this blank if you want to let the system automatically create the password

6. Add their blog urls

  • You can’t change a blog URL once a blog is created so choose carefully

7. Add Blog title

  • This can be changed later in Settings > General

8. Click Submit at the bottom of the page


#2 Creating Student blogs using the Edublogs Signup page

If you are using a free Edublogs blog you’ll need to create the student blogs using the Edublogs sign up page.  You’ll need to add yourself as an admin user once the blogs are created.

Here is how you do it:

1. Go to Edublogs.org

2. Click on the ‘Free’ image

Click on Free image on Edublogs sign up page

3. This takes you to the Edublogs sign up page where you need to enter your desired username, email address, tick you agree to TOS (terms of Service) and then click Next.

Tips:

  • You will be sent an activation email once your account is created. This email normally arrives within 30 minutes.
  • You have 48 hours to click on the link in the email to activate your blog otherwise you will need to reset up your account.
  • Spam filters, especially strict ones for institutional email addresses, often block these activation emails. If unsure use free webmail accounts such as gmail, hotmail that don’t block these activation emails.
  • Use only lowercase letters and numbers, with no spaces, in your username
  • Your username is what you use to sign into your blog dashboard and is displayed on posts and comments you write. You can’t change your username, you can change what name is displayed.

Creating a blog

4. On the next page enter the blog domain (i.e. blog URL), blog title, select your preferred privacy and language, enter the Captcha word and click Signup.

Tips:

  • Use only lowercase letters and numbers, with no spaces, in your blog URL
  • Blog URLs can’t be changed once created
    • Use a blog URL that reflects what your blog is about and is unique
    • Keep in mind people need to be able to remember and easily type your blog URL into their browser – where possible try to keep your blog URL short but meaningful
  • Don’t stress too much about your blog title as this can be changed any time.

Add your blog details

5. Next you should see a page with the blog title and instructions to check email inbox. This email should arrive within 30 minutes.

6. Click on the link in the email to activate the blog account.

Activating the blog

7. This activates your account and takes you to the activation page on Edublogs.

8. You should also receive another email with the username, password and login details which the student’s use to log into their blog dashboard.

9.  Once the blog is created you’ll need to add yourself as an admin user to each student blog by going to Users > Add New in each student blog dashboard and following these instructions.

Step 4: Complete the extension activity (if you have time)

Write a comment on this post or your own post to share your tips for creating student blogs such as:

  1. What worked well?
  2. What caused you problems?
  3. What are the three most important tips you would give other educators when using individual student blogs?
  4. What would you like explained in more detail?

And remember to leave a comment with a link to your post (if you do write a post) so we can drop past to check it out!  We like to include these links to your posts in our weekly reviews!

Here is where you find the other activities from this series:

Thanks to everyone who is participating in the 30 Days to Get Started Blogging with your students!

And if you missed out, it is never too late to work through the challenges at your own pace!

You can always form your own team with other educators and work together!

  1. Student Blogging Activity 1 (Beginner): Setting Up Your Class Blog
  2. Student Blogging Activity 2 (Beginner): Setting Up Rules & Guidelines
  3. Student Blogging Activity 3 (Beginner) – Teaching Quality Commenting
  4. Student Blogging Activity 4 (Beginner) – Helping Parents Connect with your Class Blog
  5. Student Blogging Activity 5 (Beginner): Add Students To Your Class Blog So They Can Write Posts
  6. Student Blogging Activity 6 (Beginner): Add A Visitor Tracking Widget To Your Blog Sidebar
  7. Student Blogging Activity 7 (Beginner): Set up your student blogs
  8. Student Blogging Activity 8 (Beginners): Add your student blogs to your blogroll
  9. Student Blogging Activity 9 (Beginners): Add Your Student Blogs To A Folder In Google Reader

11 thoughts on “Student Blogging Activity 7 (Beginner): Set up your student blogs

  1. Hi Sue,

    This is a fantastic post and I know I’ll be recommending it to others!

    In my grade two class students have to earn their own blog. You can read more about how I go about this here.

    I like the way you suggested that you could teach three students who then teach the next three. I have done this sort of thing and found it very helpful! This peer coaching made my life easier and the students love it.

    Good luck everyone with setting up student blogs!

    Kathleen

  2. As I am new to blogging, having created my first blog with the Teacher Challenge in January, I was a little nervous when some students indicated they wanted to start a blog. Many questions flooded my thoughts relating to student privacy, expecting and achieving high standards of posts and how I could monitor and assist while still giving the students some freedom. With this in mind I did lots of reading and decided that teaching about commenting and then allowing a student guest post was the best way to go. The students were happy with this. Tahlia has made her first post and has received her first comment which is very encouraging for her. This week I’m hoping cosy corner will have a couple more guest post. It is a great way for us to learn together.

  3. I have classes of adults and had the opportunity to ask each student to set up his or her blog before our semester started. Students chose their blogging platform, edublogs, wordpress, blogger and blogspot being the four platforms they chose. Once they set up their own space, they had to send me an email to let me know the URL of their blogs.

    Most of my students had never blogged before, being Mexican, which is not on the whole a reading and writing culture. I give my students very directed topics to post about so they feel supported to post in their second language. They find it easier to post than to comment in http://teachingknowledge.wordpress.com.

    I manage another class the same way, http://writingcu.wordpress.com but have intentionally guided them more through the posting and commenting process. They have recently edited their blogging guidelines. They also find it difficult to blog, however, some of the advanced students are slicing posts in Two Teachers Blog.

    The most positive aspect of working with adults is how they have started to proofread what they write, instead of sending it on to the teacher, who in turn shows where corrections need to be made. It has taken a load off of me, and cemented the importance of the writing process.

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  5. I am really enjoying this Challenge. My class is also loving our class blog and with their encouragement some parents have started to comment also.

    I have decided to just keep a class blog for right now. In a couple of months I may create a way for the students to have their own blogs. I really appreciate what Kathleen Morris has set up for her Grade Two students with them earning their own blogs. The blog that I am referring mentioned in her comment above.

    The students are really focusing on their comments and working hard to be approved with their first attempt. I am very encouraged by what I am seeing in our discussions about comments. The kids are seeing right away what they have done incorrectly once we start to talk about it.

    I also have divided them into groups and they are either creating our next blog post on our Viking boat creation or commenting on other teachers blogs. They have responded to a number of blogs and are hoping to hear back.

    Heather

    http://year4atalks.weebly.com

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