As I have mentioned before on this blog, I am a member of the great oz-teachers listserv. Ever so slightly more regularly the posts are taking on a Web 2.0 focus which is encouraging. So it was on the weekend that Marie, a distance education teacher posted a query as to how to facilitate a blog for her junior students. As is usually the case on such a supportive community , Marie received a number of very helpful suggestions including a small commentary from this blogger. One of those who gave some very relevant advice was the very creative and astute Anne. Anne decided to paste her response as a post on her blog and suggested that I do likewise on this blog. As a result of Anne’s suggestion I have pasted my response below which should be read in conjunction with Anne’s posted response to Marie.
Given that you are working with junior distance ed students, like Anne said my experience is that when introducing blogging to students it is easiest for a number of reasons to set up a class or group based blog. Class blogs take the pressure off of all students to write all of the time yet have the blog continue to grow. It also means that you, the students and parents have only one webspace to have to focus on initially and that things are easier for you from an administration point of view.
Especially in your situation with Distance Ed it would be relatively tricky I would have thought to set up a closed blog. That apart, at the schools I have worked in, and that is in excess of 300 blogs, we have always had the blogs completely live to the web. Part of the process of working with blogs is educating the students about the fabulous opportunities as well as the many pitfalls that can occur from using the internet. This can only be done by working live to the web. Students draw so much encouragement when they embed maps such as Clustrmaps which show where their readers live.
As far as personal images go, as Anne says there are a number of ways in which these can be altered. It can also be useful for students to discover ways of showing images that don’t include facial features. Again this is part of educating the students about being aware of the pitfalls of using the internet, Most parents also, once they realise what the images are to be used for are only too ready to allow appropriate pictures to be inserted into the blogs.
Hi Marie, like Anne suggested, I would definitely start out with just a general blog probably with the aim of telling about what is happening. In the class situation, this is relatively easy, and probably in the distance ed situation where students maybe doing lots of diverse things, there will also be lots of things to talk about.
One thing you might like to take account of the is the fact that blogs, especially into blogs allow you to set up categories. This is a powerful way of allowing individuals to access just their work. In the case of Middle P Prattlings, http://mrpbps.learnerblogs.org/ ,you can see down the left-hand side the list of all the students in grade, listed as categories. You can also see in the posts, the name of the post-author and the category in which the post belongs.
As far as safety goes, there are lots of resources out there that may help. On all of our later blogs, we have included a set of rules that you can access and copy at http://mrpbps.globalstudent.org.au/the-rules-rule/ . The Commonwealth government cyberquoll site http://www.cyberquoll.com.au/hub.htm is also worth a look at. As far as Copyright goes the smartcopy site http://www.smartcopying.edu.au/allright/index.htm is well worth a look at especially to yourself and you might also like to consider the copyright for kids linked on my test blog http://mrpbps.globalstudent.org.au/ .
To get some idea of the other tools, and which it is in things it you can use to spice up your blog, you might like to have a look at http://saltysolutions.pbwiki.com/ and http://projectingpassionately.pbwiki.com/FrontPage which both have short discussions and examples of a range of other add-ins some of which Anne has mentioned in her post.
Are there are a number of blogging portals out there, the one that I like use edublogs http://edublogs.org/ . To help get you started with edublogs, you can find a tutorial handout http://www.box.net/shared/mhta5gtc0c , that you can download at my blog https://johnp.wordpress.com/ at under the tutorials tab. On my blog, you’ll also find a link to a new book that I and a colleague have written as an introduction to blogging and lots more elements of Web 2.0.
As Anne suggested once you start blogging there are lots of other skills, and things to learn about, which will no doubt be challenging but also very exciting.