Normally when a class blog is initially set up you’ll be responsible for writing posts, and the students respond by writing comments.
This gives you time to increase your skills while gradually introducing your students to blogging and educating them on appropriate online behaviour.
However, ultimately you’ll need to make decisions:
- Do you want students to write posts on the class blog?
- Do you want them to have their own student blog?
In this fifth activity you will:
- Consider reasons why you would add students as users to a class blog.
- Learn about what role you can assign student users on a class blog.
- Learn how to add students as users to a class blog.
- Learn how to organise student posts on a class blog.
- Complete the extension activity (if you have time).
Step 1: Why Add Students As Users To Class Blogs?
Factors you need to consider include student’s age, time and motivation.
As student’s age increases you are more likely to want them to write posts on the class blog or their own blog (i.e. as a general rule Kindergarten and Grade 1 students write comments only).
#1 Ownership and Motivation
Ownership is an important part of blogging; as it’s an important part of life.
We all take better care of and have increased motivation when we feel personal ownership.
Students are no different from adults.
Ever tried to set up adults on a group blog? Incredibly challenging — often one person does the bulk of the publishing! Yet each individual happily posts on their own blog.
#2 Time Involved
Increasing student’s blogging role increases the time spent providing guidance and monitoring their online activities.
However, your students learn more, are more motivated and their writing improves faster.
Check out these student bloggers to see for yourself: Best Student Edublog 2010
PS You can create your own GraphJam here!
#3 Introducing Blogging To Students
If you decide to increase your students’ blogging roles it’s a good idea to introduce it slowly in the following three steps:
Step 2: What Role Do You Assign Students on Blogs?
When you add users to a blog you have the ability to assign and control what other users can do on the blog depending on the tasks you want each user to be responsible for.
The five roles a user can be assigned on a blog in decreasing level of responsibility are: Administrator; Editor; Author; Contributor; and Subscriber.
On a class blog you would assign students the role of contributor or author:
- Contributor – used if you want to approve all posts before they are published. As a contributor they’ll submit their post as pending and the post won’t be published on the class blog until you’ve approved it.
- Author – used if you are happy for them to publish their own posts. As a author they can’t edit or delete anyone else’s posts.
When the students log into the dashboard you’ll notice they have less menu items. This is because as a contributor or author they don’t have the same level of access as an administrator.
You can read more about what role to assign students on blogs here.
Here is a summary of their differences based on User Capability:
Here is a summary of their differences based on access to features in the dashboard:
Step 3: Adding Students As Users To Class Blogs
There are two main ways to add users to a class blog on Edublogs:
- Using Blogs and Users Creator – use on Edublogs Pro and Campus blog.
- Using Add New – use on a free Edublogs blog.
- There are no limitations on the number of users you can add to a blog!
- The Blogs and Users Creator is the fastest and best way to add students quickly to your class blog
Bulk adding students using the Blog and user creator
The Blog & User Creator is designed to bulk add users to blogs and is the fastest way of adding new users to your blog. Click on Add more button at the bottom of the page if you want to add more than 5 users in a batch.
1. Go to Users > Blog & User Creator
2. Click on the Add New Users tab
3. Add suitable usernames.
4. Add their email address.
5. Add their password
- It’s best to use a preset password (and unique password for each student) and record all student login details in a spreadsheet — in case they lose, delete or don’t receive their login email.
6. Select their role.
7. Click Submit at the bottom of the page to create and add them to your blog.
8. The students will be immediately added as users to the blog and you’ll see them listed on your Users > All Users page.
Adding students using Users > Add New
Refer to these instructions on adding users using Add New if you are using a free Edublogs blog.
- The Blogs and Users Creator is the fastest way to add students quickly to your class blog
- Most use teachers 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 misty10 or mistybp16.
Student accounts and email address
An email address is required when you create student accounts — it’s important for password resets, comment moderation etc
If your students don’t have email addresses the simplest solution is to set up their accounts using one Gmail account and then add a + sign and a different number and/or letter(s) to the end of your email name for each student.
How it works is Gmails ignores anything in the first half of an email address after a plus sign.
So if you create each email with the format firstname.lastname@example.org all emails will be sent to the inbox of email@example.com
- You must use a real gmail account– either use your own gmail account or set up a gmail account for your class e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org.
- This also means that if you want to moderate comments on student posts they will be sent to your email address.
Step 4: Organsing Student Posts on Class Blogs
Educators new to blogging often struggle with when you write posts as opposed to pages.
The best way to manage your student work is they write posts and assign their name as a category to the post before they publish their post. This makes it easy to find and manage their work.
You display the categories assigned to posts in your blog sidebar using the categories widget (here is how to add widgets).
This means when you click on the name of a student in your sidebar it’ll loads a page with all posts that use that student name as a category — check this out in action on Mr.Toft.ca!
Watch Nathan Toft’s excellent video to see how he adds students to blogs and assigns them categories!
Here is more information on:
Before you get them writing posts just create a category for each student as follows:
All you need to do is add the categories widget to your blog sidebar (here is how to add widgets). Then when you click on the name of a student in your sidebar it’ll loads a page with all posts with that category assigned to it — check this out in action on Mr.Toft.ca!
1. Go to Posts > Categories in your blog dashboard
2. Add the first name of your student (if necessary include initial of last name)
3. Click Add Category
- Set up Category Parents before you create a category for each student if you want to sort your categories into groups.
- For example, you might have Student as a parent category and then all Student names underneath. Then you might have another parent category for subjects and have all the subject names underneath.
Below’s what your categories might look like in your blog sidebar.
- Please note that categories won’t display in your category widget until the category has been assigned to a post.
Adding a category to a Post
Now when your students write their post it’s as simple as:
- Write their post
- Select their name as a category
- Click Publish post or Submit for Review
Step 5: Complete the extension activity (if you have time).
Write a post (or leave a comment on this post) on one of the topics below:
- Your thoughts on what roles students should be assigned on a class blog (and why?)
- Design a check list sheet or instructions for your student bloggers in terms of what you expect from them when they write their posts.
- Check out and review some of the class blogs that were shortlisted for the Edublogs Awards where students are involved with writing posts. Types of details to review include: what types of posts do the students write; how is the teacher organising students posts on the blog.
And remember to leave a comment with a link to your 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!
- Student Blogging Activity 1 (Beginner): Setting Up Your Class Blog
- Student Blogging Activity 2 (Beginner): Setting Up Rules & Guidelines
- Student Blogging Activity 3 (Beginner) – Teaching Quality Commenting
- Student Blogging Activity 4 (Beginner) – Helping Parents Connect with your Class Blog
- Student Blogging Activity 5 (Beginner): Add Students To Your Class Blog So They Can Write Posts
- Student Blogging Activity 6 (Beginner): Add A Visitor Tracking Widget To Your Blog Sidebar
- Student Blogging Activity 7 (Beginner): Set up your student blogs
- Student Blogging Activity 8 (Beginners): Add your student blogs to your blogroll
- Student Blogging Activity 9 (Beginners): Add Your Student Blogs To A Folder In Google Reader