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Welcome to our latest free professional learning series on personal blogging!

This series guides you step by step through the process of setting up your own personal or professional educator blog.

Refer our class and student blogging series if you want to set up a class blog.

The activities can be completed at your own pace and in any order!

Wherever you’re at – we’ll step you through the tasks designed to increase your skills while providing help to support your learning.  Don’t stress, have fun, and remember to ask for help by leaving a comment any time you need assistance!

The aim of this first activity is to:

  • Help you learn more about what is a blog and why educators have their own personal or professional educator blog.
  • Help you set up your blog, customize your settings and change your theme.


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What is a blog?

One of the biggest challenges educators new to blogging face is understanding the basics of how a blog works.

So we made this quick intro video to explain.

We’ve recommend you start by watching this video.

We’ve included explanations of key blogging vocabulary which will help as you work through this series including Footers, Headers, Menus, Pages, Posts, Comments, Sidebars, Theme and Widgets.

Feel free to share this video on your own blogs, with students or teachers, or with whomever you think may enjoy!  Later in this series we show you how easy it is to add videos to your blog.

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Why educators use blogs

The main reasons why educators have personal / professional blogs include:

  • Share information and tips with other educators.
  • Collaborate with a global audience. Increased collaboration with others, leads to greater innovation and ideas, because each individual sees a different perspective – giving all involved greater “food for thought!”
  • To reflect on their learning or their teaching /work practices.
  • To learn how to blog themselves so they can use blogs effectively with their students.
  • Create an ePortfolio.

Blogs are an important part of many educators’ PLN (Personal Learning Network).

Refer to The State of Educational blogging in 2014 for more information on why educators use blogs.


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Example of Personal Educator blogs

Your personal / professional blog extends your relationships outside of your school and allows you to connect with global educators who all willingly help each other.

Here’s some examples of real Personal / Professional Educator blogs to see how they are used:

  1. Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day
  2. The Edublogger
  3. The Principal of Change
  4. Free Technology for Teachers
  5. Cool Cat Teacher Blog
  6. Teacher Reboot Camp
  7. Dangerously Irrelevant
  8. Edublog Awards Best Individual Blog 2015

Below are some examples of how educators use blogs for ePortofolio and to document achieving Teaching Standards:

  1. Paul Heubl’s blog
  2. Jarrod Lamshed’s Connect Learning.


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Sign up for your blog

Your first step if you don’t currently have your own blog, or you would like to use a new blog for this challenge, is to sign up for a blog.

You can use any blogging platform you would like including EdublogsWordPress and Blogger, however when we write detailed instructions they will refer to Edublogs.  You will be able to adapt this information to the blogging platform you are using.

Here is some important things to consider before creating your blog:

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1.  Your Username

Username

Your username is what you use to sign into your blog dashboard and is displayed on posts and comments you write.

While you can’t change your username, most blog platforms do allow you to change how your name is displayed on posts and comments.

Most teachers don’t allow students to use first and last name online and it is common for them to model this by using display names like Miss W or  Mrs. Waters on their class blog.

Whereas on their personal blog they are more likely to use their first and last name because their primary goal is often to connect with other educators.  Using their full name helps others connect with them better on a personal level.

So you are more likely to see them use a username like suewaters and a display name like Sue Waters.


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2. Blog URL (Domain)

During the creation of your blog you have to select a URL for it.  When you want others to visit your blog you give them the URL link of your blog.   For example, the URL for the Teacher Challenge blog is http://teacherchallenge.edublogs.org/

Think carefully about your blog URL.

Once your blog has an established audience you’re less likely to want to change your blog URL.

A simple option is to use your name in the blog URL or use something that has meaning:

  1. Sue Waters Blog ( http://suewaters.com/ )
  2. Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day ( http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/)
  3. The Edublogger ( http://theedublogger.com/ )
  4. Free Technology for Teachers ( http://www.freetech4teachers.com/ )


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3.  Blog Title

Your blog title is one of the first things a reader sees when visiting your blog.  Choose a name that reflects the purpose of your class blog and your students can relate to.

But don’t stress too much!  You can always change your blog title any time via Settings > General in your dashboard.

Some teachers organize a class activity so students can help choose the blog title.

Check out the Edublog Awards nomination lists for ideas of blog titles other educators have used.

Blog Title

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4.  Password

Passwords are our line of defense for protecting our online accounts.

The stronger your password the more protected your accounts are.  You should always use strong passwords for all accounts and use strong passwords that are different for each of your important accounts.

While remembering multiple strong passwords can be annoying, at least all your other accounts are protected even if a password is compromised for one account.

A strong password:

  • Is at least 8 characters long
  • Is unique and different from your other passwords.
  • Doesn’t include terms that are significant to you like pet’s name, username, real name, date, phone number that are easy to guess or use complete words that make it easier for hackers who use dictionary attack programs.  Also avoid common word misspellings and words in which letters have been replaced by numbers or symbols because some dictionary attack programs also check for these.
  • Contains a combination of uppercase and lower case letters, numbers and symbols (keyboard characters that aren’t letters or numbers).

A common method used for creating a strong random password is to turn a sentence that you can easily remember and turn into a password by using the first letter of each word, parts of words, substituting numbers and symbols as appropriate.  Choose phrases that are meaningful to you or includes your favorite hobby or sport to help you remember.

For example, my phrase might be:

Rush Hour 3 is my favorite movie might become rH/3iMfm

or

I love football could become iLuVfb

You’ll find more tips for creating strong passwords here.

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Create your blog

Now you’ve done all the research it’s time to create your blog!  All you need to do is follow these instructions if you would like to set up your blog on Edublogs.

Alternately, check out The State of Educational Blogging 2014 to read more about the different blog platforms used by educators.

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Update your Profile

Your Profile page is where you can control the global settings for your username including where you set up your display name, change your password and email address.

Your Profile is most commonly used to update display name. password and email address so we’ll focus on this.   You’ll notice there are lots of personal settings options in Your Profile and you can read more about each Personal setting here.

The most important thing to update is your display name.  Setting up a display name makes it easier for some who leaves a comment to quickly look at your first name to personalize their comment.  If your username is displayed on posts means they have to search to see if they work out your first name.

Here’s how to update your Profile:

1.  Log into your blog dashboard.

2.  Go to Users > Your Profile in your blog dashboard.

Your Profile

3. Scroll to near the bottom of the page to  Nickname in the Name area.

4.  Change the Nickname to the name you want displayed on posts and comments.

Type your preferred display name

5.  Click on the drop down arrow and select your preferred publicly displayed name.

Select your preferred display name

6.  Now look at the email under Contact info.  All comment notification and password reset emails are sent to this address.

If you’ve set up your blog using our no email option it will look like this:

No email option

If you would like to receive comment notifications and be able to retrieve your password using the Lost Password link then we recommend you add your email address.

Please  note:

Your email address is required. You may change this, but you can only use one e-mail address per username.  This email address must be valid because to confirm that change an  email will be sent to this address and it won’t be changed until you click on the link in the email.

Change your email address

7.  Now scroll to the bottom of the page and you’ll see the new password field.

Change  your password by typing your new password into both boxes.  There is no need to update your password (unless you want to).  We just wanted to show you how it is done.

  • Using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols makes it hard for others to guess your password.
  • The strength indicator provides an indication of how good your password choice is!
  • Read more about creating strong passwords here.

Changing your password

8.  Now just click on Update Profile to apply the changes.

Remember to always click on Update Profile whenever you make any changes on Your Profile page!

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Upload your user avatar

Your avatar is an online representation of you.

The user avatar is also known as your comment avatar.  You upload the user avatar via Users > Your Avatar and it displays in places where you leave comments and next to posts you publish on some themes.

The default avatar set in Settings > Discussions is automatically display next to comments you leave unless you upload your own Avatar.

Your user avatar helps your readers visualize who you are.   It helps create a personal connection with  your readers.

Below is an example of a user avatar and display name next to a comment.

Comment avatar

Uploading your avatar is as simple as:

1.  Select a photo.

Most educators use a photo of themselves on their personal blogs.

2.  Resize your image to 200 pixels wide by 200 pixels high.

3.  Go to Users > Your Avatar.

Your avatar

4.  Click on Browse and locate the avatar you want to upload.

5.  Click on Upload.

Upload your photo

6.  Move the crop area to one corner, then expand the crop area to include your full image and click Crop image.

Crop image

7.  Now when you view a post where you’ve left a comment you will see your new comment avatar.

Important tips:

  1. If you change your avatar and still see the old avatar it may be your web browser remembering your old image.
  2. Hold the Ctrl key and press F5 to clear your browser cache.


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Check your settings

The General Settings is where you configure the broad settings of your blog including your blog title, tagline, blog admin email address, timezone.

The most important setting to update in General Settings is your timezone.  Educators often assume that blogs are automatically created set to their timezone and weeks later wonder why the post and comments date and times are weird.

The other important thing to consider is the blog admin email address.  This email address is where all comment moderation emails are sent; and is used for payment receipts (if you are an Edublogs Pro subscriber). If you would like to receive comment moderation emails then we recommend you add your email address.

You’ll find more information on the configurations options in General Settings here.

Here’s how to change your timezone:

1.  Go to Settings > General.

Settings

2.  Select your timezone from the drop down menu option.

Timezone

3.  Click Save Changes.


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Customize your blog theme

Your theme is what controls the look and appearance of your blog; this is what people see when they visit your blog.

This is how you give your class blog its personal touch.

Like most things in life, first impressions count.

Great blog themes make good impressions on readers so that visitors are more likely to check out your blog.   Overwhelming themes detract from your blog content, and make visitors less likely to read your content.

Every newly created blog normally has the same default theme.  The last thing you want is to look like all the other blogs.

Customizing your blog theme is normally one of the first thing most people want to do when they first log into their blog.

So lets finish off getting your class blog started by showing you how to customize your theme!

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Using the theme customizer

With the theme customizer you can customize your theme and see the results in real time before activating the theme.

Here’s how to change your theme using the theme customizer:

1.  Go to Appearance > Themes

Theme

2.  Click on ‘Live Preview‘ below the theme you want to use.

Click on Live Preview

Or if you want to customize your current theme, click on ‘Customize‘ under the current theme.

Click on Customize

3.  This loads the customizer.  Now all you do is work through the control panels on the left to customize the theme to preview the theme changes in real time before activating it on your blog.

4.  Once you’re happy with the changes you just click ‘Save & Publish’.

The customizer

Below’s a quick summary of each customizer control panel:

Control Panel

We recommend you leave the static front page set to ‘Latest Posts’.

Most class blogs use a blog post page for their homepage and we’ll explain why you might use a static page in our next post.

You’ll find more detailed information on using the customizer here.


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Almost all Edublogs themes include an option to upload your own custom image header.

A custom image header means you can obtain a much more customized look and feel adding your “own personal touch” to your blog.

Uploading your own custom header image is as simple as:

1.  Click on Add new image in the header image section of the customizer.

Click on Add Image

2.  Choose an image from your media library or upload a new image from your computer.

  • Only .jpeg, .gif, and .png files can be used for image headers.
  • For best results we recommend you re-size the image to the exact dimensions recommended for the theme before uploading by using an image editing program.

Select image

3.  Click on Select and Crop.

Save and publish

4.  Click on Crop image.

Crop image

5.  Your new header image should appear in your blog preview window.

6.  Click Save & Publish on the Customizer to activate the new header on your blog.

Save and publish


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Uploading your own Background Image

On many themes, much like custom header images, you can add images to your blog’s background.   A background image  is another great way of adding that personal touch to your class blog.

Uploading your own custom background image is as simple as:

Click on Background Image in the Customizer.

  • If you don’t see the Background Header section in the Customizer it means the theme doesn’t support this option.

Click on Background

3.  Click on Add new image.

4.  Choose an image from your media library or upload a new image from your computer.

  • Only .jpeg, .gif, and .png files can be used.

Add your image

5.  Click on Choose Image.

Click on Choose Image

Once you have selected an image the background image options will appear:

  • Background repeat:  controls if the background image is repeated.  Choice are:
    • No Repeat -background image is only displayed once on the page.
    • Tile – background image is tiled horizontally and vertically.
    • Tile horizontally – the background image only repeats horizontally.
    • Tiled vertically – the background image only repeats vertically.
  • Background position:  allows you to control the position of the background image.  Options are left, center and right.
  • Background attachment: determines if you want the image to scroll with the content or to remain ‘fixed’ in place when a reader scrolls down the page.

For best results we recommend you use Tile, left and Scroll.

6.  Your new background image should appear in your blog preview window.

7.  Click Save & Publish on the Customizer to activate the new background on your blog.

Click Save and Publish


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Common asked theme questions

Here’s answers to commonly asked theme questions we receive into Edublogs Support:

1.  Can I upload my own theme?

Because of  the way blog platforms like Edublogs, WordPress.com and Blogger work you can only use the themes provided and can’t upload your own custom themes.  Most themes are designed to work on single installs and many don’t work or can have compatibility issues on blog platforms.

Remember that custom image headers and backgrounds  are an very effective way of customising your theme to meet your needs.

2.  How do I change the font color, font size and text color?

Some themes have extensive theme customization options which aren’t supported by the theme customizer.

They often include options to change font color, font size and text color.

These types of themes add a theme option menu item under Appearance once the theme is activated.  To do more extensive customization you just need to go to Appearance > Theme Options.

You can also change font type, size and color in posts or on pages using the Supreme Google Webfonts plugin.

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Your Task

Blogging is about sharing, collaborating, and learning from each-other. So here’s your chance to ask a question, comment, and get involved!

We’d like you to add your voice and ideas to our ongoing conversation about blogging by undertaking one or more of the following challenges:

  1. Visit some of the blogs on the examples of personal educators blog list then leave a comment on this post to tell us which were your favorite blog(s) on the list and why they were your favorite blog(s).
  2. Leave a comment on this post and tell us how you went setting up your blog.  For example, you could tell us what theme you chose and why?  Or what you found easy? What aspects were hard and you would like to know more about?
  3. Leave a link to your blog in a comment on this post so we can have a look at your new blog.

233 Comments

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  1. Hello,
    This is my first blog! I’ve thought about the idea for awhile but didn’t really know where to start. I will use my blog to reflect and record my thoughts about what’s happening in my classroom. http://missweir2017.blogspot.co.nz/ – it’s a work in progress!

  2. Here’s my new blog. It is a work in progress!
    kbocklage.edublogs.org

    • Hi Ms. Blockage, and welcome to the Teacher challenge!

      I love the title of your blog! You have also structured your blog content well within the framework of the theme you have chosen.

      Eugene Brown, Edublogs Support
      @Edublogs_Eugene

  3. I’ve been reading blogs for a few years now, and over the long weekend I took the plunge and started my own education blog at susancornish.wordpress.com . There are so many things to write about – I can see I’ve taken on a big project. The biggest challenge for me is how to find an audience and make connections with the other blogs I’m reading. In the mean time my blog is a good place to record my thoughts about what’s happening in education.
    My favourite blogs are ones I can subscribe to, so that I don’t have to remember to go visit. I get a tap on the shoulder. Thanks for the tips – very helpful!

    • Susan Cornish
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    • Hi Susan, and welcome to the Teacher Challenge!

      Your blog is looking really good, and we look forward to following your progress.

      Eugene Brown, Edublogs Support

  4. I liked Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day. The site was appealing and the page was easy to navigate and interesting. I liked The Edublogger and Free Technology for Teachers sites because of the topics and resources shared. I didn’t have too much trouble with setting up because I have a class blog already. However, I did have trouble deciding on a theme and finding a picture of myself for my avatar that wasn’t too big (couldn’t get alternative method to work). I’m ready to set up pages and see what else I can add to my blog! Find me @ http://sbathrick.edublogs.org

    • Hi Stephanie, and welcome to the Teacher Challenge!

      It is not unusual to change your theme a number of times until you decide on a theme that best suits your blogging needs.

      For your avatar, did you try and make the image smaller using an image editor before uploading it?

      Eugene Brown, Edublogs Support

  5. Here we go. This is my first blog EVER! I’ve toyed with the idea for awhile but didn’t really know where to start. I will use my blog to get info out to my students and their parents.

    Because I am so new to this, I had a little (possibly a lot) of help setting it up. (THANKS Myles!)

    I am excited to give this a go!

    https://jannaslye.edublogs.org/wp-admin/customize.php

  6. Hi everyone.

    My name is Art Goldberg. I teach college-level Composition and Literature courses and have written an unpublished novel.
    This is my first effort at Blogging. I would like to share the novel with other creative writers and solicit feedback, and also blog about the writing process.

    Art

  7. Hello everybody,

    I am using this personal blogging series to revamp a blog that I started in 2010, but have not updated since 2012. teacherwithoutborder.wordpress.com

    My blog was already set-up, so just picked up some tips on how to revise it. Thank you very much.

    • Rashida Outlaw
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    • Hello everyone:
      i look forward to setting up my first Blog. Ihave a MFA in Cretaive Writing and currently
      teach College-Level English Comp and Freshman Literature courses in South Florida. I have written an unpublished novel tht I plan to serialize on my Blog as a series of Posts.

      Hope to get followers who will give me feedback.

      Art Goldberg
      Gypsy Adjunct.

  8. Hi,
    Wow – it was a great experience. The steps were really simple to follow, and I must commend the person who has painstakingly put it together – not a single problem!

    My Problem areas: Wherever there were options to choose from, or creative thinking involved, I found it hard – real hard and it literally swallowed time!

    I am referring to the choice of URL /Domain name and choice of the theme. Both took time – a lot of it.

    Your first “task” of deciding my favorite blog – was very educative. It made me think , and actually clarified my own thoughts on what I would like in a my blog!

    Interestingly, I liked the blogs which had least written material in their front page, had lots of pictures (easy browsing) – gave only snippets of what to expect in the main article and were not cluttered with too much information.

    The Edublogger, in my opinion, was the best.

    By the way, each one of the blogs (frankly I could go through only the first three) of the “Best Individual Blogs – 2013” was super.

    All of them conformed to my observations above i.e. more pictures, less written material and not too many widgets on the Front Page.

    Thanks and Regards

    Prof (Brig) Raghavendra Rao

    • Prof. (Brig) Raghu Rao
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    • Hi Prof. (Brig) Raghu Rao, thank you for your insights, and welcome to the teacher Challenge!
      Eugene Brown, Edublogs Support

  9. I got started a bit late due to illness, but had a wonderful time starting to set up my Edublog today– http://travelwithmrst.edublogs.org/ I plan to launch the blog officially on June 1, 2015, to be used in tandem with my travel website http://travelwithmrst.weebly.com which I launched in January 2015 to share my world travels. I’ve been an educator for over 25 years, and recently finished my Master’s in Educational Leadership in the US before moving temporarily to the Netherlands. While in the Netherlands, and not working physically at a school, I wanted to learn more about the tools of technology, including social media, and how they can be used in the classroom. Now, I want the final piece in place–a blog for educators about ideas to use in the classroom utilizing students’ personal experiences traveling, as well as my website, and other web-based sources.

    When I went to select a theme, I limited myself to mobile-friendly themes, since I believe this is extremely important; I see how much my two adult children utilize their phones for web access. As a Curriculum Tech Coordinator from 2010-2014, I saw how many of my elementary-aged students had tablets at home. I also limited myself to the free themes, since I am looking for ways to help teachers utilize the tools of technology in as cost-effective a manner as possible. After narrowing it down to Designfolio, Hatch, MyLife,and Oxygen, I finally decided to use Designfolio for its simplicity, as well as legibility of the font.

    I found many of the examples of Personal Educator blogs to be quite busy and prefer the simplicity of The Edublogger and The Principal of Change, though I do prefer an image with each blog post to help hook the readers and then jog their memory (and mine) later!

    Thank you for the opportunity to participate in such a great Challenge!

      • Hi Michele

        Welcome to the Teacher Challenge and thanks for sharing a link to your new blog!

        I’ve fixed the issue with the link in your other comment.

        Designfolio is a great theme choice. Text is easy to read and is a very clean theme. Thanks for sharing your reflection on the personal educator blogs. Some of the more popular educator blogs tend to be more busier due to extra content they want included in their sidebars. I personally prefer less busy. I think my personal blog ( http://suewaters.com/ ) is slightly less busy than The Edublogger ( http://www.theedublogger.com/ ).

        Images in posts are a great way to grab attention!

        Sue Waters
        Support Manager
        Edublogs | CampusPress

    • I am wayyyy behind but I decided it was “better late than never”. I enjoyed these blogs: Free Technology for Teachers, Teacher Reboot Camp, and Dangerously Irrelevant. I liked them because each blog provided “relevant” and practical information.

      Literacy is my blog’s platform. I am a former educator and current Learning Coach of our two teenagers. I taught them how to read and I truly love the reading process!! The title of my blog is; “Learn2Read2Learn” – https://mrsgertha.edublogs.org/. I chose several themes before I decided to use “Able”. I liked its simplicity. However, I may change it, again. Finding a theme isn’t proving to be easy for me.
      For my background image, I am using a photo of “Cotton Hill School”. A one-room schoolhouse my grandfather, mother and several of her siblings attended. It’s been there since the 1800’s. I may change it to my header image and find something else for my background image. I am gathering my content and thinking of ways to organize it on my blog.

      I am looking forward to this challenge!!! Thank you EduBlogs creator(s) and staff for this opportunity!!

      • Welcome Gertha! I love the title of your blog; Learn2Read2Learn. It gives site visitors an immediate sense of what your blog is about. Hopefully you will add some content soon so we can help you through the process of setting up your blog.
        Eugene Brown, Edublogs Support

        • Thank you!

  10. Hello!
    This is my blog https://marinaegorova.edublogs.org.
    I’m just a beginner & it’s rather difficult for me to choose just one theme or a set of categories. I guess it’ll take me more time to try everything until I come to the best variant for me. I liked the Misty Lake theme as to my mind it’s simple but still attractive. I can’t say that something was difficul for me to do. All the given instructions are clear.
    As for the blogs which I liked most I can say that they are all great & have all neccessary points to get information and share it.

    • marinaegorova
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    • Hi Marina, and well done on taking up the Teacher Challenge! Choosing the correct theme is worth taking time over. I suggest you create a few posts that include images and videos; this will give your blog some substance to work with and help you choose a theme. Which categories you choose will be determined by the content of your blog posts. As an English teacher, you could have “Parts of Speech”, “Figures of Speech”, “Literature”, etc, as possible categories.
      Eugene Brown, Edublogs Support

    • Hi Ruth, thanks for taking part in the Teacher Challenge! I look forward to following the progress of your blended learning approach. If you haven’t already done so, I suggest you create categories (labels) to group your blog posts. Listing the books you’ve written, and adding app reviews, will broaden your viewer base.
      Eugene Brown, Edublogs Support

    • Hi Chris, what a great idea for a blog; Reflecting on a 41 year teaching career. I look forward to following your blog as I am sure you have many stories to share. I suggest you place widgets on your sidebar to allow your site visitors to easily find your blog posts. A top menu and an about page will also be useful.
      Eugene Brown, Edublogs Support

  11. I found that setting up my blog was an easy process overall. I have some other blogs on other websites but this is my first education related blog.

    The purpose of my blog is to share information with students and educators. Being an instructor of a student success seminar at a community college, I was hoping to store my ideas in a place where my former students can still access them after their class with me is completed.

    My theme is an oldschool blackboard because it appealed to me, seemed easy to read and is gender neutral.

    • Hi Sheriann, I love the idea of your blog! It’s such a positive approach. I suggest you place widgets in your sidebar and footer area that will help your visitors more easily navigate around your blog. This includes the category and tags widget, as well as widgets that list, or highlight, your blog posts. Placing graphics in your posts will draw attention to them. http://blogforstudentsuccess.edublogs.org
      Eugene Brown, Edublogs Support